Saturday, September 30, 2023

Settlement reached in Hampton Roads Regional Jail death lawsuit

The Hampton Roads Regional Jail the state and the jail’s former medical provider have agreed to a $3 million settlement of a federal lawsuit filed by the family of an inmate with mental health problems who died in the jail.

The agreement with Jamycheal Mitchell’s family was finalized last week.

The settlement includes no admission of wrongdoing by Hampton Roads Regional Jail, medical provider NaphCare or other defendants.

Part of the settlement agreement, which had been worked on for months, required Gov. Ralph Northam’s approval. The court documents don’t describe how much money each defendant would have to pay. A federal judge still must approve the agreement.

Mitchell, 24, had bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. He was jailed in 2015 on charges he stole about $5 in snacks from a Portsmouth convenience store. Mitchell was ordered to a state mental hospital, but his paperwork was stuffed in a hospital employee’s desk drawer and he was never sent there. He died about four months later in the jail of heart failure accompanied by severe weight loss, a medical examiner said.

Mitchell’s family filed its lawsuit in 2016, claiming Mitchell was beaten, starved and treated “like a circus animal” leading up to his death. The family sought $60 million in damages.

Mitchell’s death led the state Board of Corrections to scrutinize all recent jail deaths.

A report last month from a federal investigation of Hampton Roads Regional Jail — where several inmates have died — determined the jail is violating prisoners’ rights by failing to provide adequate medical care. It described the jail as lacking enough medical staff to treat a high number of physically sick and mentally ill inmates, many of whom are locked up repeatedly for minor offenses.

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