CLEARFIELD – A second lawsuit has been filed against Clearfield County in relation to the death of an inmate at the county jail.
In July, the first suit by Mikayla Duffalo, concerned the suicide of Michael Duffalo at the jail on March 10, 2019.
Earlier this month, Trina A. Corson filed a new lawsuit against not just the county, but also against the warden, a probation officer and corrections officers of the facility regarding her daughter, Kristen E. Corson’s death.
In the complaint, it states that Kristen E. Corson, was visited by her probation officer on Oct. 10, 2019 around 10:30 a.m. for a routine urine test to determine if she was using any controlled substances.
She told him she wasn’t feeling well and was having trouble breathing. The probation officer “demanded that decedent produce a urine sample,” but she was physically unable to do it.
She reportedly explained to him that she was “medically incapable of complying.”
He “accused decedent of willfully refusing her drug screening, and placed her under arrest” for violating the terms of her probation.
She was transported to the jail “rather than a medical provider or allowing her additional time to produce a urine sample.”
The suit claims the probation officer was “aware of decedent’s serious medical need” but did not inform corrections officers at the jail about it.
Upon her arrival at the jail at 11:30 a.m., “she was visibly ill, exhibiting labored breathing and complained of her condition” to the COs.
“These defendants, although aware, ignored decedent’s serious medical need and her complaints of the same.”
It states that the policies and procedures of the jail required the COs to deny her entry and transport her or arrange transportation to a medical provider “for further evaluation and or treatment, which was not done.”
Instead, she was placed in a holding cell with other inmates “without properly addressing her serious medical need.”
While in the holding cell, the suit claims that she continued “to demonstrate visible signs and symptoms of illness and labored breathing,” which the COs witnessed but “ignored and or failed to properly address.”
Around 2 a.m. on Oct. 11, 2019, she was found unresponsive in the cell.
When an employee of the jail called Trina Corson to tell her of her daughter’s death, he allegedly stated that “she should not have been taken to the jail in the first place.”
An autopsy determined her cause of death was pneumonia.
The complaint states that there is “a high risk of inmate deaths involving illnesses and or medical emergencies” at the jail, and it has a history of “failing to provide timely and or adequate medical evaluations to its ill inmates and or those suffering from medical emergencies,” and has failed “to implement policies and procedures to address these concerns.”
According to the Duffalo complaint, Duffalo was involved in a domestic incident at his home in Brockway on March 4, 2019 after which he was arrested and taken to the Jefferson County Jail. Shortly after, he was transported to the Clearfield County Jail for an outstanding bench warrant.
“At this time, decedent was experiencing an obvious mental breakdown, was under the influence of narcotics/suffering from withdrawal symptoms and was in need of immediate medical care.”
A booking report “indicates that decedent was crying in the car” during his trip to the Clearfield County Jail and “was very worried about his situation.”
He was also described as being “in and out of it at times” and under the influence of narcotics.
The complaint states Duffalo was not considered to be a risk for suicide.
On March 7, 2019, he was given a mental health screening from an employee that was “not a licensed medical professional” despite working for a mental health facility contracted by the jail.
During this evaluation, he expressed “feelings of hopelessness, had frequent mood changes, was depressed, had worries he could not get rid of, felt like he was on an emotional rollercoaster, was irritable to the point that he would shout at people, lacked interest in activities that once excited him, repressed certain feelings and memories, constantly felt on guard and had a history of mental health treatment.”
He was also a “daily narcotics user and had experienced withdrawal symptoms in the past.”
Duffalo was diagnosed with major depressive disorder by the mental health employee but was not deemed a suicide risk.
A few days later, he asked for a second bed sheet, which he used to hang himself in his cell.
Both lawsuits filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania are being represented by Dylan T. Hastings of Philadelphia.