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WEDNESDAY, JUNE 20, 2007
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Former inmate suing Lawrence

By Kristen Bishop
kbishop@decaturdaily.com 340-2443

MOULTON — A former Lawrence County Jail inmate and admitted alcoholic said jail employees were "deliberately indifferent" to his "life-threatening alcohol-withdrawal symptoms" during his nine-day incarceration.

Clyde O'Neal Parker, 54, of 906 Lawrence County 106, Moulton, is suing the county and jail employees for deliberate indifference to serious medical needs.

According to the suit filed May 31 by Parker's attorney, Henry Sherrod III of Florence, officers arrested Parker on March 22 for driving under the influence.

It states that he was jailed but did not receive an "appropriate medical examination," and was not monitored for signs of withdrawal.

By March 27, Parker began hallucinating, slurring his speech, stumbling when walking and "appeared to be...suffering from some form of mental disorder," according to the complaint. Though family members tried to persuade jail employees at that time to take Parker to the emergency room for treatment, he was not released until March 30.

"(The) defendants released Parker rather than taking him to the hospital in order to avoid responsibility for Parker's medical bills," it states.

Because of his delayed treatment, Parker "experienced unnecessary pain and suffering, was hospitalized for over a month, incurred over $100,000 in medical bills..., is in need of rehabilitative services and has likely suffered a permanent loss of brain function."

Parker is seeking compensatory and punitive damages in U.S. District Court, and has requested a trial by jury.

The suit names the county, Sheriff Gene Mitchell, jail administrators Kenneth Mitchell and Mary Brown, jail day-shift supervisor James Baker and jailer Thomas Jones as defendants.

Medical care at jail

Mitchell, who declined to discuss the pending litigation, said jail employees generally take inmates with medical problems to the Lawrence Medical Center.

A doctor also visits the jail once a week.

The sheriff is working with the county to obtain funding for a full-time nurse at the jail, he said.

"I'd like to contract a full-time nurse, but that doesn't have anything to do with (the suit)," he said.

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