In a federal lawsuit filed in April, the relative of a deceased inmate blames his wrongful death on a private inmate healthcare company and a for-profit inmate transportation company.
The lawsuit accuses Advanced Correctional Healthcare and Prisoner Transport Services of neglecting and even mocking the serious medical needs of William Weintraub, PhD, as he died a slow and painful death from a perforated ulcer, shackled in the back of a crowded van. The lawsuit also alleges ACH falsified records to make it appear as though Weintraub did not report any pain or distress on the day of his death.
Weintraub began complaining of stomach pains as an inmate at Colorado’s Boulder County Jail in April, before his scheduled extradition to South Carolina. Jail officials treated his pain with Maalox, milk of magnesia, and Miralax.
But when Prison Transport Services took custody of Weintraub on April 14, 2014, all of his medication and treatments were abruptly stopped. Officials shackled his hands and feet and sent him on a five day drive to the Daviess County Detention Center in Kentucky, where he would wait seven days for the his trip to resume.
Advanced Correctional Healthcare was contracted to provide medical care to inmates at the facility in Daviess County. While Weintraub waited for enough inmates to be placed on the transport list for PTS to make an “efficient trip,” his pain began to get more severe. His medical requests received no response for three days, at which point medical staff prescribed him one antacid tablet and sent him back to his cell, making note to “contact the MD.”
ACH medical staff decided this was appropriate even though Weintraub told them he passed out in the shower from pain that morning. Reports filed by ACH noted his obvious pain and discomfort and that he’d lost 46 pounds.
On April 24, ACH noted Weintraub said he vomited blood, but “no one saw it.” However, the next line of the same note states, “I/M did vomit after lunch, witnessed by RN … Appears in pain. Will notify MD.”
Later that day, Weintraub received 30 minutes notice that his transport van would be leaving that day. Records show ACH staff contacted their doctor, but nothing was to be done for him because he was about to leave the jail.
This note was ACH’s last in records seized on April 25 by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. However, the lawsuit claims that the records obtained via public records request were different, and show that ACH staff tampered with evidence after Weitraub died.
The additional entries “purport to ‘record’ that Dr. Weintraub had become miraculously symptom free with no signs or symptoms of any distress and with no complaints whatsoever” when he left the jail. However, multiple eyewitness accounts described in the GBI investigation describe Weintraub as in terrible condition. He looked like “the walking dead.” He had sweat pouring off of him in a “freezing cold jail.” He was pale and groaning.
Guards were reportedly mocking him as he was taken from the jail to the van. When he went to board, he was unable to muster the strength to step up and enter the vehicle. PTS agents allegedly “picked him up by his pants and just threw him in the van … from the back of the van to the front of the van on top of the other guys.” They also mocked his pain and imitated his moans.
PTS agents also questioned ACH officials about whether Weintraub was medically fit for transport. PTS Agent Arnold reported to the GBI that:
The male nurse or doctor in Daviess County first came out and said WEINTRAUB was fine for transport. The doctor said WEINTRAUB complained all the time. ARNOLD observed that when WEINTRAUB came out he was huffing and puffing. He looked “mental” or not right in the head. WEINTRAUB was complaining that his stomach hurt. ARNOLD was concerned enough that he asked the nurse or doctor a second time if WEINTRAUB was okay and the doctor or nurse said that WEINTRAUB was okay.
Weintraub was cleared to leave the jail.
The Prisoner Transport Services van was fifteen minutes from the Union County Sheriff’s Office in Georgia in the early morning hours of April 25 when Weintraub slumped forward in his seat and urinated on himself. Other inmates in the van called out to PTS agents for help but they were ignored.
Fifteen more minutes passed once the van arrived at the Sheriff’s office before authorities checked on Weintraub. When they did, they found his “eyes wide open and bloodshot, that he was pale, his lips were purple, he was unresponsive and he was drooling.” EMS pronounced him dead at 4:13 AM that morning.
An autopsy by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation found his cause of death to be a perforated duodenal ulcer resulting in sepsis.
It’s worth noting that ACH and its doctors have several pending federal lawsuits against them, many of which contain complaints of medical neglect that closely mirror the account described here. PTS is no stranger to federal lawsuits either, and has been accused of horrific behavior such as urinating on inmates and using their debit cards at gas stations to buy themselves cigarettes and food.