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Lawsuit Claims Prison Staff Ignored Addicted Inmate's Dying Cries for Help

Posted by Steve Karimi | Mar 09, 2020 | 0 Comments

The family of a woman who died in police custody has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against those responsible for her care after obtaining video surveillance that allegedly shows her pleas for medical care were ignored by law enforcement officials. Madelyn Linsenmeir died in police custody in Springfield, Massachusetts. She was just 30 years old. 

Ms. Linsenmeir had a history of battling opioid addiction. She was taken into custody in Massachusetts in late September 2018 on charges of criminal impersonation and having a fugitive warrant in New Hampshire for a parole violation stemming from a drug-related offense. The last time Ms. Linsenmeir's family heard from her was September 28, 2018. She spoke with her mother via a phone located in the booking area. She complained to her mother, in front of jail staff, that she was in pain and that she felt she needed to go to a hospital.

A portion of the evidence obtained by the family was a video in which Ms. Linsenmier was interviewed by officers. During these interviews, she states: "... I'm very ill right now. I can't even think straight. I'm gonna like literally pass out from pain... I have a really, really, really bad chest, like I don't know what happened to it, it feels like it's caving in, I can't even breathe ..." Officers denied her requests for medical attention and sent her back to her cell.

According to the lawsuit, Ms. Linsenmier was transferred to the corrections center, where staff "determined [she] had a diagnosis of, among other things, 'alcohol abuse' and 'opioid abuse.'" She was treated for detox, and nothing more. The suit alleges that she pleaded with guards that she was "sick and not 'dope sick,'" and that her chest was tight and that her heart hurt. Prison staff did not take her complaints seriously until it was too late.

The whole time Ms. Linsenmier was complaining of chest pain and other symptoms, she was experiencing infective endocarditis, a life-threatening, but treatable, infection of the heart, usually involving one of the valves. According to the lawsuit, jail staff repeatedly told her the pain and symptoms she experienced were "her own fault for using drugs." By the time Ms. Linsenmier finally was taken to the hospital, she was diagnosed with tricuspid valve endocarditis, 'innumerable' pulmonary emboli and cavitary lesions of the lungs, and acute hypoxemic respiratory failure. She died four days later.

Ms. Linsenmier's family gave a statement about the lawsuit, which is being brought in part by the ACLU, "We are also very concerned about people being arrested by the Springfield Police Department and other police departments across the country, and how they treat those with substance-use disorders. It's a disease and requires medical attention. This is a healthcare crisis that is playing out in courts, jails, with cops and corrections officers, which play a huge role."

Defense Attorney Steve Karimi

The consequences of an arrest, even when not as catastrophic as seen in this case, can still be life-altering. A seasoned defense attorney can make a significant difference in your fight. Steve Karimi is a former King County prosecutor who knows how to fight within the criminal justice system. Call 206-621-8777 or fill out an online contact form today to get started.

About the Author

Steve Karimi

Steve Karimi attended Pepperdine University School of Law. After graduation he worked as a prosecutor in Seattle where he gained valuable insight to the criminal justice system. Attorney Karimi uses his experiences as a prosecutor everyday only now he fights for the justice of those accused.


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