$3M settlement OK'd in Arizona jail case
PHOENIX -- Officials approved a $3.2 million settlement of a lawsuit by a diabetic woman's family members who alleged she was denied medical treatment while incarcerated in one of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's jails.
The 3-1 decision on Tuesday by the county's Board of Supervisors ended the civil case brought by the late Deborah Ann Braillard's family after she was brought to the jail in January 2005 and died more than two weeks later at a hospital.
The settlement is the latest in a 20-year history of jail-related claims paid out by the county. Excluding the Braillard settlement, the county has paid out $24 million in such claims since Arpaio took office in 1993, according to records.
Tuesday's vote marked the third time the settlement proposal has come before county officials.
A mid-October vote on the settlement was postponed when the sheriff's critics disrupted a Board of Supervisor meeting. The settlement then failed on a tie vote about two weeks later. Supervisor Max Wilson, who voted against the settlement in late October, switched his vote and broke the tie. He offered no explanation for the change and, through a spokeswoman, declined to comment after Tuesday's meeting.
"This could be a case that could have cost taxpayers even more than we are paying right now," said Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox, who voted to approve the settlement. In addition to the settlement figure, the county has paid $2.1 million to defend itself in the lawsuit.
The Braillard family's lawsuit alleged that detention officers and health workers within the jail system knew of her condition but did nothing to treat her.
Braillard, who was insulin-dependent diabetic, received no insulin or a diabetic diet after she was brought in the jail system in January 2005, the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit said she was found face-down and non-responsive in her cell after her daughter called the jail. She was eventually taken to a hospital and suffered from kidney failure, pneumonia and had become septic. She died 18 days after she was taken to hospital, the lawsuit said.
Lawyers for the county said Braillard failed to advise the jail of her condition, denied that she complained about her condition and that Braillard's daughter had expressed a concern to health service employee that Braillard was deliberately hiding her condition in an attempt to get out of jail.
Mike Manning, an attorney for the Braillard family, declined to comment. Dan Struck, a lawyer representing the county, didn't immediately return a call late Tuesday morning.
Randy Parraz, leader of a citizens group that's critical of Arpaio, questioned what would have happened to Arpaio's re-election chances if the settlement had been approved earlier. "This should have been done before the election," Parraz said.
Arpaio won a sixth term in office earlier this month.
The sheriff's office declined to comment and referred calls to Struck.