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Woman Dies in Brooklyn Holding Cell, Family Sues

In recent news, a Brooklyn woman died due to an alcoholic seizure in a New York City holding cell. In response to her death, the woman’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit in a Brooklyn Federal Court. The lawsuit claims that the woman required medical attention which she did not receive from the police at the jail where she was in holding, and that her death was a direct result of their lack of adequate attention.

The Brooklyn woman was arrested and booked last July after she consumed an entire bottle of vodka and violated a protection order that was filed against her by her elderly grandmother. An inmate who was present at the jail during the time the now-deceased woman was there said that the woman was complaining of stomach pain and diarrhea, but that no one came to treat her. The other inmate said that the officers brushed off her comments because she was drunk.

This case will hinge on the duty owed by the City of New York to the incarcerated decedent. The City owes its citizens and even incarcerated persons a ‘duty’ to act reasonably and provide proper, efficient and competent medical care when holding a person in custody. That duty cannot be delegated to another entity or person and even if it was, the City still would be liable if that delegated duty was breached.

The difficult issue faced by this plaintiff’s lawsuit will be “proximate cause”. This is a legal concept that is defined as follows:

An act from which an injury results as a natural, direct, uninterrupted consequence and without which the injury would not have occurred.

Plaintiff’s lawsuit will have to prove that the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s death was the City’s failure to provide proper medical care and NOT the seizure induced by excessive alcohol consumption. As the medical examiner, a seemingly disinterested, objective organization has ruled the cause of death was alcohol related, plaintiff has a difficult preliminary finding to overcome.


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The Law Firm of Steven I. Fried, P.C. - Bronx Personal Injury Attorney
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