Pittsburgh PA Inmate Claims Guards Denied Her Epilepsy Medication, Files Lawsuit
01/03/2011 // West Palm Beach, FL, US // Sandra Quinlan // Sandra Quinlan
Pittsburgh, PA—A Pennsylvania inmate filed a federal civil rights lawsuit Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010, claiming three Allegheny County jail guards denied her epilepsy medicine, causing her to suffer a seizure. The plaintiff also contended one of the guards broke her shoulder and used a racial slur during the episode, according to information provided by the Associated Press.
Tonja Jackson, a 40-year-old woman, who is African American and suffers from epilepcy, claims in an 11-page civil rights lawsuit that after she was arrested on Jan. 29, 2009, officials confiscated her anti-seizure medication, Dilantin.
Jackson alleges she was denied the daily medication for a week and was denied again on Feb. 6, even after she told a guard she was experiencing “auras,” an indication that she might suffer a seizure. The guard apparently told Jackson that it wasn’t “medication time” and would not call on a nurse to evaluate her.
Jackson subsequently told the guards that “if she was going to die from lack of medication, she would do it on the spot in front of the [surveillance] camera rather than alone in her cell.” Her announcement spurred officers to put the inmate in cuffs and escort her to another area of the jail.
The lawsuit claims a jail captain then threatened to use a Taser on her, though she told them that the stun gun could kill her. Jackson was then purportedly transferred to a mental-health unit, where she walked by the guard who initially denied her medication.
That guard then allegedly told her, “Just because Obama is president don’t mean you’re still not a [slur].” Jackson then suffered a seizure.
The civil rights suit goes on to accuse the guard of “assaulting her,” fracturing her shoulder, after using the racial slur. The guards named in the lawsuit were “instructed not to speak to the media” with regard to the pending litigation.
The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, names Allegheny County, the jail warden, three guards and the officer who investigated the incident as defendants.
Reports stated Jackson, who has a lengthy criminal history, was in jail on a bad-check charge when the episode occurred. Jackson was later accused of spitting on a guard and threatening to assault another. She now apparently faces charges of harassment and making terroristic threats.
The case is underway.
Phone: (866) 598-1315
Url: Sandra Quinlan: West Palm Beach Injury News