Our client, a 35-year-old man named James, was arrested while he was extremely intoxicated early in the morning on February 3, 2017 and was subsequently booked into County Jail in Missouri. Later that night, James suffered a vicious and unprovoked attack at the hands of a fellow inmate that left him with life-threatening injuries. Despite repeated requests for medical attention, jail personnel did nothing to get him the help he so desperately needed.
James ultimately sought assistance from three highly-regarded area attorneys to bring a lawsuit against jail staff and the county for the attack and lack of medical supervision that followed the attack. Those three lawyers each declined to represent him in a lawsuit. That is when Foster Wallace, LLC stepped in and helped him obtain the compensation—and the justice—he deserved.
Assault by a Fellow Inmate Left James Severely Injured
On the night of February 3, 2017—his first night in County Jail—James was involved in an unprovoked attack by a fellow inmate. The inmate entered James's cell and locked his neck into a chokehold. James collapsed during the assault, unable to feel his hands.
Jail Personnel Refused Repeated Requests for Medical Attention
James was still on the ground when jail personnel came by on their nightly rounds. James told them he was injured and needed to see a doctor or a member of the medical staff as soon as possible. Instead, he was simply moved to a different pod in the jail. James was forced to spend the next four days in agony, as his repeated pleas for medical attention went unanswered.
County Jail personnel refused to get James help. It wasn't until February 7—after he'd complained about his injuries to the judge during his arraignment—that they brought a portable x-ray machine into the jail to examine his neck. With a neck fracture visible on the x-ray, James was taken to two different hospitals for further evaluation. The medical professionals at both facilities diagnosed him with a life-threatening “hangman's fracture,” which required him to undergo an emergency spinal fusion surgery to prevent his death. This surgery, while life-saving, left James unable to move his neck.
We Agreed to Assist James in His Fight for Justice When Other Attorneys Wouldn't
James was determined to hold the negligent jail personnel accountable, but finding an attorney to represent him proved difficult. His case was declined by attorneys at three well-known firms before he decided to take legal action on his own and file a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri.
Foster Wallace was contacted by the federal judge assigned to James's case and asked if we would talk to him and consider becoming his legal counsel. After meeting with James, we agreed to represent him.
How We Helped James Resolve His Lawsuit
James initially filed his lawsuit naming John Does as defendants, as he did not know the names of the staff members at County Jail who refused to give him medical attention. We quickly got to work gathering documents from the County prosecutor regarding the underlying attack, amending the complaint, and sent discovery requests to County in an attempt to identify the appropriate defendants. Not only were we able to find out who the culpable parties were and interview potential witnesses with what we had discovered, but through discovery we were also able to determine that jail staff had manipulated James's records to cover up what happened to him.
When we had enough information, we sent a demand letter asking for the insurance policy limits of $1,414,418 (this was the sovereign immunity cap in 2017 plus $1,000,000.00), as neither jail personnel or the county itself had significant assets to collect from. The defendants accepted our settlement offer and James elected to structure a portion of his settlement, allowing him to receive monthly payments until 2049.
Civil rights lawsuits or claims against the government can be complex, confusing, and intimidating. At Foster Wallace, our knowledgeable and experienced attorneys help victims understand their legal rights and options, and fight for a fair recovery. To find out how we can help you, contact us to schedule an appointment for a free initial case consultation.