Refusal to Provide Prescribed Medication to Schizophrenic Inmate Leads to Attempted Suicide, Lawsuit against Alameda County, Wellpath

Scattered pills, free public domain CC0 photo

By Gabriela Rose

DUBLIN, CA – Wellpath LLC., a national jail medical provider, and Alameda County are accused of providing inadequate services to schizophrenic Santa Rita inmate Julian Martinez and causing his attempted suicide, according to a federal civil rights lawsuit filed in late March.

According to the lawsuit, Martinez suffered from schizophrenia and required prescribed medication. During his arrest, Martinez’s wife communicated to the Fremont police officers of his diagnosis and prescription, but officers did not inform Santa Rita Jail staff of this information.

While in custody, Martinez told Santa Rita Jail staff about his schizophrenia and the medication he needed, and staff additionally spoke over the phone with Martinez’s wife about his diagnosis.

The lawsuit states a Wellpath nurse in the Santa Rita Jail “called Mr. Martinez a liar and denied him his medication,” refusing to move him to a medical observation unit or evaluate his preexisting health.

The actions of the Wellpath medical staff ultimately led to Martinez’s schizophrenia symptoms worsening without his required medication, and his mental health rapidly deteriorated, according to the pleading.

After being unmedicated for six days in the Santa Rita Jail, Martinez tried to hang himself, according to the lawsuit, noting Martinez survived, but suffered “injuries, emotional distress, fear, terror, anxiety, and a loss of sense of security, dignity, and pride…” identified by the lawsuit as a “direct result of the defendant’s negligent and careless actions.”

Martinez’s civil rights attorneys said Wellpath’s services “exhibit a pattern and practice of exposing pre-trial detainees and inmates to unconstitutional detention conditions and procedures at Santa Rita Jail,” and cite in Martinez’s lawsuit eight instances of previous alleged misconduct by Wellpath medical staff in Santa Rita.

These instances detailed in the lawsuit include Monk v. Wellpath, in which detainee Maurice Monk died in his cell after efforts by his family to provide jail staff with his prescription information, but medication for his schizophrenia was ignored and his condition went untreated.

Cole v. Santa Rita Jail describes permanent disfiguration suffered by detainee Peter Cole in his face, jaw, and gums after three different medical requests for treatment from the jail for badly abscessed teeth were ignored. The lawsuit states Cole’s face was badly swollen and infected for at least a month and a half until medical care was finally rendered.

Martinez’s lawsuit also charges widespread examples of Wellpath providing constitutionally deficient medical care and conditions, systemically providing inadequate psychiatric care, and condoning misconduct at various other jails to which Wellpath is contracted.

About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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