» Family Of Man Who Died in Custody Awarded Nearly $1 Million

Family Of Man Who Died in Custody Awarded Nearly $1 Million

Chicago, IL (Law Firm Newswire) November 26, 2013 – A federal judge has awarded damages to the family of a man who died in a Chicago jail cell.

Saying that inadequate medical care led to the inmate's death, the judge awarded nearly $1 million in damages to the man's wife and daughter in a wrongful death lawsuit. Habib Solebo was found dead in his cell in the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in May 2007.

According to the lawsuit, jail staff took no action when Solebo refused to take his anti-seizure medication, and a blood sample intended for testing was found to be unusable due to faulty procedures. On the day that Solebo's body was found, no one licensed to practice medicine was present at the facility. Both staff physicians were on leave, and the warden, who was at a training event, had not appointed anyone to take their place, according to court records.

The MCC, a 28-story jail on West Van Buren Street, saw two inmates escape last December by rappelling down the side of the building using a rope made of bedsheets. Medical care at the jail has frequently been criticized by inmates and their attorneys, though the judge in the present case noted that some problems had been remedied.

The judge reduced the damages from $1.5 million to $920 thousand, saying that Solebo bore some of the responsibility for his own death due to his refusal to take his medication.

Solebo was an immigrant from Nigeria who was studying nursing. He was arrested in January 2006 for allegedly selling heroin to an undercover officer. He began suffering from seizures while he was in a county lockup, falling and hitting his head on the floor on one occasion, according to court records. Solebo was prescribed the anti-seizure medication Dilantin. After he was transferred to MCC, his prescription was increased and he was ordered to be given a lower bunk in case he fell again. An MRI was also ordered, but was never performed, the judge said in his opinion.

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