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Lawsuit against Forsyth County's jail medical provider over pregnant inmate's death settled

Lawsuit against Forsyth County's jail medical provider over pregnant inmate's death settled

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The family of a Winston-Salem woman has settled a lawsuit that alleges Forsyth County jail officials neglected the woman’s care, leading to her death in 2014.

The lawsuit was filed Aug. 17, 2016 in Forsyth Superior Court on behalf of the estate of Jennifer Eileen McCormack Schuler. Schuler spent 17 days at the Forsyth County Jail on charges that she fraudulently obtained prescription drugs. She died Sept. 18, 2014, at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center from a “severe cardiac event” caused by a lack of oxygen to her brain, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit named as defendants Correct Care Solutions LLC and Grand Prairie Healthcare Services, both of Nashville, Tenn. Grand Prairie is a subsidiary of Correct Care, and both companies provided medical care to jail inmates.

The lawsuit said medical providers failed to provide proper care for Schuler, who was three months pregnant and had a history of severe nausea and vomiting associated with her pregnancy when she arrived. According to the lawsuit, Schuler didn’t eat or drink much, suffered from nausea and vomiting and didn’t have access to medications for opioid withdrawal, anxiety disorder, depression and prenatal vitamins for her unborn baby.

“I can confirm it has been settled,” John Vermitsky, one of the attorneys for Schuler’s estate, said Thursday. “It has been settled to the mutual satisfaction of the parties.”

Vermitsky said he could not comment further because the terms of the settlement are confidential.

On Dec. 12, Vermitsky and John Taylor, also an attorney representing the estate, filed a notice of voluntary dismissal of two other defendants, Miriam Cornatzer Hauser, a registered nurse, and Emma Aycoth, a nurse practitioner.

A notice that voluntarily dismisses Correct Care and Grand Prairie as defendants will be filed at a later date.

Another lawsuit centered on the death of an inmate at the Forsyth County Jail was partially settled last week.

The Forsyth County Board of Commissioners approved a resolution to pay $180,000 to settle claims against the county, Sheriff Bill Schatzman and Robert Slater, the jail’s bureau commander. The county did not admit liability.

The $180,000 settlement involved a lawsuit that Diane Nixon filed July 31, 2015 in Forsyth Superior Court on behalf of the estate of her husband, Dino Vann Nixon. Dino Vann Nixon died Aug. 5, 2013. Diane Nixon’s lawsuit alleged that jail officials refused to provide Dino Vann Nixon medication and that they mistakenly believed that he was suffering from alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Nixon did not have a history of alcohol abuse.

The lawsuit also alleged that jail officials failed to pay attention to Nixon’s worsening medical condition.

Diane Nixon’s lawsuit against Correct Care is still pending.

In addition to the two lawsuits, two men at the Forsyth County Jail died in May — Deshawn Lamont Coley and Stephen Antwan Patterson. Coley, 39, died May 2. An autopsy report released in August concluded that he died as a result of complications from asthma. The State Bureau of Investigation said in October that it had completed its review of the matter and turned over its report to the Forsyth County District Attorney’s Office.

An autopsy has not been publicly released for Patterson. Patterson’s uncle, Frederick Patterson Jr. has said his nephew told detention officers that he had high blood pressure and asked the officers if he could see a doctor at the infirmary. He also asked for blood pressure medication.

It wasn’t clear Thursday if the SBI has finished its review of Patterson’s death at the Forsyth County Jail. Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O’Neill said he has not made a decision in either case whether he will file criminal charges.

The jail deaths sparked protests and scrutiny of Correct Care Solutions. The Forsyth County Board of Commissioners recently approved a $13.2 million three-year contract to Correct Care Solutions to provide medical care at the jail.

mhewlett@wsjournal.com 336-727-7326 @mhewlettWSJ

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