After a nearly two-week trial and three hours of deliberations, a Baltimore medical malpractice jury determined on September 24, 2019 that a Baltimore hospital was not liable for the death of a prison inmate who broke the glass in the window of his hospital room and jumped five stories to his death. The man was in the custody of the Baltimore County Department of Corrections at the time of his death – Baltimore County conceded the negligence of its correctional officers who had custody of the man at the time of his suicide (the plaintiff did not sue any defendants employed by Baltimore County).
The Alleged Underlying Facts
The 31-year-old inmate was brought by Baltimore County correctional officers to the defendant Baltimore hospital on August 18, 2015 after he was arrested by Baltimore County police officers and made comments indicating that he suicidal thoughts. He was evaluated by hospital staff and released back to jail with instructions to place the man on suicide watch. Two days later, he was returned to the same hospital after he hit his head in his cell after he lost consciousness.
Two Baltimore County correctional officers transported the man to the hospital, where he was placed in restraints. The man stated that he had to use the bedside toilet that was behind a privacy screen, and his restraints were removed. A nurse entered the inmate’s room and observed him on the windowsill, banging on the window. The glass in the window broke before the two correctional officers could pull the man down from the windowsill, and the man fell through the broken window and plummeted five stories to his death.
The Baltimore medical malpractice lawsuit filed by the man’s estate and his minor child claimed that the hospital was medically negligent and that its negligence was a cause of the man’s suicidal death. The defendant hospital filed a third-party complaint against the Baltimore County Department of Corrections. The hospital’s lawyer stated after the jury’s verdict, “There’s a pretty strong logical argument that if you’ve got two correctional officers plus the guy’s supposed to be (restrained), you’re not really relying on the hospital for security.”
Source Samantha Washington et al. v. University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center, Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Case No.: 24-C-16-006488.
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