Inmate’s Family Files Wrongful Death Suit in Hunger Strike Case
Chicago, IL (Law Firm Newswire) July 20, 2012 – A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed against the Lake County sheriff's department in the case of a jail inmate who died after a prolonged hunger strike. The lawsuit alleges that prison officials ignored the woman's mental illness and failed to give her proper treatment.
Lyvita Gomes, 52, died at a Waukegan hospital on January 3, five days after she was transported there from the jail. She had been incarcerated after missing a court date. Gomes was diagnosed as psychotic by a jail psychiatrist. She refused to consume food or water for 15 days before jail officials ordered her hospitalized, according to the lawsuit filed by family members on June 7 in federal court.
"This tragic case highlights the importance of providing medical care for people who are incarcerated, as they are completely dependent on the government for their care, even if they have not been convicted of a crime," said Robert Briskman, a Chicago wrongful death lawyer with Briskman Briskman & Greenberg.
According to the lawsuit, Lake County officials failed to provide Gomes with due process rights, including the right to accommodations for disabled people. International law has also been invoked, as Gomes was Indian and the Indian Consulate was not notified that she had been detained.
Defendants named in the suit include personnel, the Lake County Sheriff, jail and health services administrators, and Correct Care Solutions, a private company with a $2 million contract to provide health care services for the jail.
A lawyer for the officials has denied the claims in the lawsuit. Jail officials said that they could have sought a court order for Gomes to be force-fed, but that she appeared to be in a stable condition up until the point of her hospitalization.
Gomes, a former employee of Delta Airlines, first came to the attention of Lake County authorities when she failed to respond to a jury summons.
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