Woman sues state jail authority for brother's death

CHARLESTON -- A woman is suing the West Virginia Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority after she claims they are responsible for her brother's death.

Primecare Medical of West Virginia, Inc.; K. Estep; M. Castleman; B. Marcum; and J. Hatfield were also named as defendants in the suit.

At approximately 6 a.m. on Aug. 14, 2010, John Charles Justice was arrested by the West Virginia State Police on a misdemeanor charge of allegedly reporting a false emergency incident, according to a complaint filed Aug. 7 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

Bonnie Morris, Justice's sister, claims prior to his arrest, Justice exhibited strange and unusual behavior, including driving through a McDonald's drive-thru in his underwear and advising the employees that someone was trying to burn his house down; a neighbor advising Wayne County 911 that Justice claimed he had been robbed by a 12-year-old girl; and advising his arresting officer that two persons had just ran into his residence and were robbing him.

Justice arrived at Western Regional Jail at approximately 6:15 a.m. and the arresting officer advised the receiving corrections officers that Justice was not fully aware of what actions he was taking due to his mental status, according to the suit, and Justice was received, booked and placed in Holding Cell H1.

Morris claims at approximately 9:40 p.m. on Aug. 15, 2010, 39 hours after he was received at the jail, Justice was found unresponsive in Holding Cell H1 and had died while in the holding cell.

It was noted that Justice was "talking crazy" when he came in and it was also noted that Justice was "talking to persons not there," according to the suit.

Morris claims an initial medical screening was attempted shortly after Justice was booked, but was unsuccessful and pursuant to jail protocols, Justice should never have been received and booked, but should have been refused by jail staff.

No physicians were ever contacted or consulted regarding the serious medical condition exhibited by Justice, according to the suit, and Justice died as a result of the serious medical condition he exhibited during his incarceration.

Morris claims the defendants violated the fifth, eighth and 14th Amendments to the Constitution of the United States and had the defendants turned away, properly evaluated and/or treated Justice, he would not have died as a result of his medical condition.

As a result of the defendants' breach of duty of care, Justice incurred pain and suffering prior to his death, according to the suit.

Morris is seeking compensatory and punitive damages. She is being represented by Michael C. Walker and Bert Ketchum.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge James C. Stucky.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 12-C-1581

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