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Inmate Claims Epilepsy Went Untreated At Santa Rita Jail

An inmate suffered a Grand Mal seizure after deputies at the Santa Rita jail in Alameda County, California denied his repeated requests for epilepsy medication, according to a federal lawsuit [PDF] filed against the county and various sheriff’s deputies at the end of July.

Christopher Robert Flores claims that he told authorities he requires a twice-daily regimen of anti-seizure medication as soon as he was arrested by the Emeryville Police Department. Flores has Acquired Epilepsy, stemming from a traumatic brain injury he sustained when he was attacked with a tire iron in 1997.

Flores’ continued to request medication upon arrival at the Santa Rita Jail. He warned the sheriff’s deputies that without his medication he would suffer a seizure. The deputies allegedly told Flores there was “no nurse on duty” to address his complaints. He was not given any medication.

Flores’ suffered from a Grand Mal seizure soon thereafter, “resulting in severe physical, physiological, psychological, mental and emotional damages.” He contends his mistreatment constitutes cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution. He is seeking an injunctive order for the Alameda County Sheriff’s office to “establish appropriate procedures for handling inmates with epilepsy and related seizure disorders.” Flores is also seeking $1 million from the defendants and payment of his legal fees.

The Santa Rita Jail’s medical care and staffing has been subject to increased scrutiny in recent months. Corizon manages the healthcare of the county’s inmates under a multi-million dollar contract.

Recently, around 150 people protested the quality of medical care provided to inmates outside the Alameda County Board of Supervisors after Mario Martinez died from a serious breathing condition that was left untreated behind bars. Corizon also broke California’s record for the highest amount paid in a wrongful death settlement: the company paid $8.3 million this year to the family of Martin Harrison, who was beaten to death by deputies while suffering from delirium tremens from unsupervised alcohol withdrawal.

Read the lawsuit: “Flores v Alameda County Sheriff’s Department, et al.” [PDF]

Immigrant rights activists gather at the Federal Building in lower Manhattan on Saturday April 5, 2014 to protest the 2 millionth deportation of an undocumented immigrant by the Obama administration. (Michael Fleshman / Flickr)
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Brian Sonenstein

Brian Sonenstein

Publishing Editor at Shadowproof and columnist at Prison Protest.