Estate and family of man who became ill at Trumbull jail and died files lawsuit


By Ed Runyan

runyan@vindy.com

WARREN

The estate and wife of an inmate who was found unresponsive while incarcerated at the Trumbull County jail, and died a short time later, has filed a lawsuit, saying there was a failure to provide proper medical care.

The lawsuit, filed in federal district court in Youngstown, names as defendants the county, jail, Sheriff Paul Monroe, the jail’s medical director and others.

It alleges the defendants “knew or should have known, of the substantial and obvious risk of serious harm which could result from the denial of the necessary medical treatment” to Gregory Wright, 60, of Sheridan Avenue Northeast, who died May 5.

Dr. Humphrey Germaniuk, county coroner, ruled in September that Wright’s death was natural, probably the result of a heart attack connected to high blood pressure and multiple heart problems.

Germaniuk said Wright also tested positive for fentanyl in his blood but not in the lethal range, “thus making this a drug-related death unlikely.” Fentanyl is a frequently cited overdose drug.

Wright had been in the county jail two days when he was found unresponsive in his cell at 12:01 p.m. May 5. He was pronounced dead at 12:44 p.m. at St. Joseph Warren Hospital.

Wright was sentenced April 26 in common pleas court to 18 months in prison on convictions of drug possession and failure to comply with the orders of a police officer.

The suit alleges the jail’s policies and procedures “failed to provide measures adequate for the treatment of inmates with serious medical needs including the life-threatening effects of unassisted drug withdrawal and the physical and mental emergencies that result.”

The suit says Wright informed the jail staff of his medical issues, including his recent hospitalization and heroin withdrawal, but the staff did not put him in a monitored cell block.

The suit also alleges Wright was “deprived of his medication due to the jail and/or medical staff’s negligence.”

The suit alleges the jail’s medical director, Dr. Phillip Malvasi, failed to hire supervisory LPN nurses and failed to properly train and supervise the jail’s medical assistants.

Major Dan Mason, the jail administrator, said of the suit: “It’s too early in the process for us to have any information.” A call to Dr. Malvasi and to Monroe on Wednesday were not returned.

The suit seeks at least $75,000 in compensatory damages on each of nine counts, as well as punitive damages.

The suit, filed by Atty. Gilbert Rucker III, is assigned to Judge Benita Y. Pearson.

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