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Hospital, jail deny allegations of negligent inmate care
Court filing only acknowledges a small number of claims in lawsuit
FARMINGTON — The San Juan Regional Medical Center and other defendants have denied most of the allegations in a negligent care lawsuit filed by a former inmate of the San Juan County Adult Detention Center.
The court document was filed on July 14 in response to a complaint filed by Oregon resident Jared West, 30, who accused the detention center and the hospital of depriving him of adequate medical care and improperly restraining him while he was incarcerated in April 2015.
West's Albuquerque-based attorney Eric Sirokin filed the complaint seeking unspecified damages on March 31 against a list of defendants that includes San Juan County, jail administrator Tom Havel, and jail and hospital employees.
Ellen Kelly, an attorney representing the hospital, filed the response to West's amended complaint. She did not respond to requests from The Daily Times for comment.
According to court documents, the defendants deny most of the claims in the complaint due to a lack of sufficient information.
The response also states West failed to state "sufficient enough" facts to prompt the lawsuit against the defendants, and denies accusations of bodily harm and excessive force.
Sirokin believes the denial of allegations from the defendants is because the lawyers haven't started their investigation yet. He added that when the investigation is complete, it will demonstrate that West did not receive adequate care.
Previous lawsuits have been filed against the hospital — the jail's health care provider at the time — and the jail, claiming inmates died or suffered injuries because of substandard or denied medical care.
West, who as been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, makes several claims in the lawsuit, including that he was assaulted by corrections officers until he lost consciousness, that he placed in a straitjacket and a restraint chair for allegedly being "non-complaint" and that he did not received medical attention for a broken hand.
He also claims he was never taken to the behavioral health unit at the San Juan Medical Center, that he was not adequately treated or evaluated by psychiatric personnel, and was that he was deprived of food and water because he allegedly assaulted jail employees.
The court filing only acknowledges a small number of claims levied against the defendants.
The defendants acknowledge that three doctors named in the lawsuit work at the hospital and that West's mother contacted law enforcement officials to advise them about West's bipolar disorder.
The defendants also acknowledge West made a trip to the emergency room at the hospital.
The defendants acknowledge West was diagnosed with bipolar disorder by a hospital employee but deny a claim that doctors declined to treat West for what later was determined to be a fractured hand.
Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.