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Macomb County sued over another jail death

Crosses placed outside the Macomb County jail to remember inmates who have died there. Friends and relatives of the deceased inmates hold regular protests on the site.
Sarah Cwiek
Michigan Radio
Crosses placed outside the Macomb County jail to remember inmates who have died there. Friends and relatives of the deceased inmates hold regular protests on the site.

Macomb County is being sued yet again over a death in the county jail.

Alverez Milline died in March 2016. He was serving a year-long sentence on drug charges.

The federal lawsuit claims that as far back as May 2015, Milline complained of chest and lung pain, and shortness of breath.

He sought medical care 12 times over nine months, and allegedly told the jail’s medical staff about his history of pulmonary embolisms.

Despite his repeated and worsening symptoms, and abnormal EKG results, Milline was never treated with anything more than over-the-counter painkillers and heartburn medication.

On March 7, 2016, Milline reported trouble breathing. He was taken to the hospital, and later pronounced dead from a pulmonary embolism.

The lawsuit accuses Macomb County, Sheriff Anthony Wickersham, jail medical contractor Correct Care Solutions, and a number of individuals of “gross negligence” and “deliberate indifference” to Millene’s serious and deteriorating condition.

“Defendants repeatedly ignored Mr. Milline’s life-threatening symptoms and failed to give him adequate medical care despite obvious signs and abnormal EKG tests, directly resulting in his death,” the complaint alleges.

The lawsuit says this amounts to a federal civil rights violation, creating a “cruel and unusual punishment” that led directly to Milline’s death.

It also accuses the defendants of allowing “unconstitutional policies and procedures” to continue at the jail, despite knowing they caused harm and created dangerous conditions for inmates.

This is the sixth federal civil rights lawsuit Macomb County is facing for the alleged wrongful death of a jail inmate.

In 2013, Jennifer Meyers died after suffering for days from acute sepsis. In 2014, Ryan Hagerman was beaten to death by a fellow inmate, and David Stojcevski diedfrom protracted benzodiazepine withdrawal. In November 2015, Dan Byrd died of a drug overdose. In February 2016, Vanessa Sexton committed suicide by hanging. 

Macomb County has denied any wrongdoing, and is vigorously defending itself in those cases.

The jail and Correct Care Solutions report a total of 18 deaths at the jail since 2012. Family members of some of the other deceased inmates say their deaths were also preventable.

The Macomb County Jail has drawn increased scrutiny over the past several years for some of these deaths, as well as several overcrowding “emergencies” that have forced the early release of some non-violent inmates.

Todd Flood, the attorney representing Milline’s estate, did not respond to several requests for comment on the case. Flood is also a special prosecutor with the ongoing criminal investigation into the Flint water crisis.

Macomb County Corporation Counsel John Schapka says none of the county defendants has been served with the lawsuit yet, but the county will defend itself against the new charges.

Update 9/15/2017, 2:35 pm: This story was updated to include a sixth federal lawsuit regarding the death of inmate Dan Byrd. His family sued Macomb County, the jail and Correct Care Solutions Sept. 7.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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