Family Wins $3M in Wrongful Death Settlement




Family Wins $3M in Wrongful Death Settlement

The City of Denver, Colorado has recently been ordered to pay $3 million to the family of Emily Rice, a 24-year old woman who died while being detained in the Denver Jail. 

Rice was arrested Feb.18, 2006 for suspicion of driving under the influence. Following a car wreck, Rice was treated for her superficial injuries at the Denver Health Medical Center and then booked into jail.  

The morning after her arrest, Rice was found dead in her cell. The city has been found guilty of wrongful death charges. 

An Investigation Reveals the Details of Rice’s Death 

Colorado authorities conducted a thorough investigation of both the hospital and the jail following Rice’s death. Among the investigation's many findings was: 

  • The hospital failed to properly examine and treat Rice before transferring her to jail. This negligence in her treatment caused her internal injuries to go undetected, ultimately causing her to bleed to death while incarcerated.  
  • The state investigation also found that, in the hours before her death, she screamed in pain and begged for help. Both guards and nurses assumed that she was simply drunk and ignored her pleas. 
  • Witnesses to this tragedy testified that Rice was told to "stop being dramatic." According to witness testimony during the trial, her screams were so piercing that other incarcerated individuals even started screaming in an effort to get guards to check on her. 

Despite these efforts, however, no one came to Rice’s help, and she was found dead the following morning. 

Settlement, Policy Changes Resulting from this Suit 

In addition to the $3 million that Rice’s family won from the City of Denver, the plaintiff also won $4 million in a malpractice suit against the Denver Hospital that failed to detect and properly treat her injuries. 

What's most comforting to the family, however, is the fact that Colorado has now implemented 23 legally binding changes known as "Emily's Protocols."  

These new policies will affect the way that arrested individuals are transferred to prisons following hospitalization. Some also require prison guards to perform simple medical tasks in order to monitor inmates' health to prevent tragedies like Rice’s death.  

(Source: Rocky Mt. News)

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