LUCEDALE, Miss. (AP) – A Mississippi county has agreed to a $2.75 million settlement in a federal lawsuit for the wrongful death of an insulin-dependent inmate held in the county jail.
William Joel Dixon, 28, died in his cell at the George County Regional Correctional Facility on September 24, 2014, after seven days without insulin. Former George County Prison Nurse Carmon Sue Brannan, 58, is… serving a 15-year prison sentence for manslaughter before Dixon’s death.
“Put simply, this case arose from a senseless and tragic combination of a lack of human compassion and policies that prevented those who wanted to help Joel from helping him,” said Garner Wetzel, one of the attorneys representing the inmate. estate.
Dixon died despite the prison having insulin on hand to treat him. His mother delivered a batch of insulin to the prison, and a George County warden retrieved another batch from the glove compartment of Dixon’s car at the time of his arrest on September 17, 2014. While in prison, Dixon repeatedly pleaded for help when his condition deteriorated; Brannan ignored those pleas and blamed his symptoms on methamphetamine withdrawal.
The wrongful death lawsuit was filed on behalf of Dixon’s estate; his mother, Donna Dixon; and his children against George County, Brannan and the city of Lucedale. A judge later dismissed Lucedale as a defendant.
The settlement represents more than half of the county’s overall $4.3 million fund budget, The Sun Herald reported. George County regulators on Monday approved the resolution and agreed to the settlement amount. The county’s insurance company has paid more than $500,000 in attorney’s fees and agreed to pay $250,000 of the total settlement amount.
U.S. District Judge Sul Ozerden has ordered the county to pay $1 million within 14 days of the May 31 ruling in federal court in Gulfport. The remaining $1.75 million must be paid within 90 days of the settlement date, Ozerden’s order said.
The verdict also calls on George County officials to write an apology letter to Dixon’s family.
“The Dixon family has endured eight heartbreaking years of criminal and civil lawsuits and an unfounded claim against Joel’s mother for defamation,” Wetzel said. “Despite their loss, the Dixon family behaved with dignity throughout and rallied behind Joel’s children.”
Wetzel said the county’s agreement “closes a chapter in this sad ordeal.”
The Dixon family expressed their appreciation for the public interest in the case, but asked for privacy “so that Joel’s children can move on with their lives, just like all other young people.”
The family also thanked their team of attorneys and former District Attorney Tony Lawrence and Assistant District Attorney Cherie Wade for their successful prosecution of the criminal case against Brannan.
Wetzel said the family hopes the verdict will motivate officials across the country to ensure inmates receive proper medical care.
“Their fervent hope is that the tragedy of Joel’s death will lead to meaningful change to prevent these avoidable and unnecessary losses of life,” he said.