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Suit over jail ordeal alleges civil-rights violations, wrongful death

Published: Mon, December 27, 2010 @ 12:10 a.m.

By Jordan Cohen



The mother of a Trumbull County jail inmate who died after being Tasered last year has filed a federal lawsuit against the county, Sheriff Thomas Altiere and Dr. Philip Malvasi, the jail’s medical director and physician.

The lawsuit charges civil-rights violations, wrongful death and medical malpractice.

Altiere said he has not seen the lawsuit and declined to comment.

Joan Padula, of Ravenna, said her son, Kurt Platzer, 32, of Warren, suffered seizures due to advanced alcohol withdrawal. She claims that jail corrections officers were aware of his condition but still shocked him when he became belligerent. The lawsuit also claims that Dr. Malvasi never met with Platzer, did not prescribe any treatment or order him to a hospital.

The suit states that Platzer had been sentenced to a 30-day jail term in June 2009 after he appeared in court while he was under the influence. According to the lawsuit, Platzer had been drinking a fifth of rum daily.

Padula says her son suffered three seizures his first day at the jail and became delusional on the second day. He suffered a fractured skull from banging his head against a cell wall, which Padula says was confirmed in a coroner’s report.

The lawsuit alleges that on his third day of incarceration, Platzer was Tasered after refusing to cooperate with corrections officers and stopped breathing three hours later. He was pronounced dead at St. Joseph Health Center.

Padula’s suit claims her son suffered at least four seizures during his confinement.

“To be [Tasered] while in custody is completely unreasonable,” said David Malik, Padula’s attorney. “There were multiple people on hand who should have managed the situation.”

The lawsuit charges Platzer’s civil rights were violated by use of excessive force and the failure of the jail staff to provide appropriate medical treatment. Malvasi is accused of malpractice and his medical assistants, of negligence.

The lawsuit asks for compensatory and punitive damages but does not specify a dollar amount.

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