| CRIMINAL JUSTICE
By Royal Calkins
This list includes most of the jail litigation involving Monterey County jail deaths dating to 2013.
Joshua Claypole, May 2013
Claypole, a longtime mental patient, was arrested for fatally stabbing a cab driver. Shortly after his arrival at the jail, his mother provided his medications but the jail staff refused to accept them. Claypole was placed in a suicide watch cell initially but was soon moved to general population, where he hanged himself.
Settled just before trial for $1.1 million.
Jacob Parenti, January 2015
Parenti, 33, was in jail for a drug violation and developed flu-like symptoms. Twice he filed medical request slips but they were ignored. He started coughing up blood and his cellmates noticed that he had stopped breathing. The lawsuit says the cellmates called for help but none came for an hour. Too late.
Settled before trial for $385,000.
Mark Parjas Sr., March 2015
Parjas was arrested in King City for resisting arrest after police stopped him for riding his bicycle the wrong way on a one-way street. At the jail he reported that he was a heroin addict who had used that day. The nursing staff recommended that he be placed in a narcotics detox protocol but CFMG, Wellpath’s predecessor as the jail’s medical provider, didn’t have such a protocol. He died hours later.
Plaintiffs won a jury verdict of $1.6 million and settled for additional fees for a total of $2.875 million.
Sandra Vela, May 2015
The Soledad woman, 52, had recently undergone brain surgery when she was arrested during a domestic disturbance. At the jail she was not provided with her medications or medical treatment despite repeated requests. Within the next week, she became delusional, accusing the sheriff of killing her husband. Two weeks into her stay, she hanged herself with a pink bed sheet.
Settled for $2.85 million after the family won a summary judgment against the county. In the above cases, the families were represented by Oakland lawyer Lori Rifkin, who previously worked for the federal Department of Justice Civil Rights Division.
Emeryville lawyer Jamie Goldstein also has sued Monterey County on behalf of inmates who have died in Monterey County Jail. Those cases include:
Lara Ann Gillis, December 2015
Gillis was arrested in Marina on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. Shortly after her booking, she was unresponsive in her cell and was taken to Natividad Medical Center, where she died. An autopsy showed that she had died of multiple organ failure caused by a urinary tract infection, a highly treatable condition that was ignored by the jail.
Gillis’ children received $825,000.
Emeryville lawyer Jamie Goldstein represents or represented clients in the following jail deaths.
Rafael Lara, December 2019
Rafael Ramirez Lara, 57, of Greenfield was a longtime mental patient who was in the jail on and off for eight months without receiving any psychiatric treatment. In December 2019 he compulsively drank so much water that he essentially drowned in his own vomit. A jail deputy who twice stepped over a pool of water coming from Lara’s cell was not questioned as part of the ensuing investigation.
Wellpath agreed to a settlement of $2.5 million.
Carlos Patino Regalado, March 2021
Regalado had been in custody for about a month and was on suicide watch off and on because he had attempted to kill himself. On the day he hanged himself, Regalado had been sent to the infirmary because of a “psychiatric emergency.” When he was returned to his cell, he was placed on a suicide watch again but was soon taken off that special status. Hours later, he was found hanging from a piece of cloth attached to the grate of a vent, what corrections experts call a “hanging point.”
Carlos Chavez, April 2022
Goldstein has filed a civil rights lawsuit in federal court on behalf of the family of Carlos Chavez of Watsonville. Jail officials said he attempted to hang himself after being booked on a probation hold. Shortly after, he was found dead in his cell with wads of toilet paper stuffed into his throat and nose. Though his wife, Anabel, said she suspects he was murdered, that is not alleged in the lawsuit. It says the county is still liable because it did not properly house or monitor him after the unsuccessful suicide attempt.
David Sand, November 2022
Goldstein represents the family of David Sand, 29, who had been in and out of jails and mental health facilities for a decade before his final incarceration. Jail officials told his father, Eric, that he may have died of blood loss from a slit wrist or from a drug overdose. An autopsy determined he apparently died of water intoxication, similarly to the case of Lara above. His father said he had been in the jail for several months with no indication he had received any mental health care.
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