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Family of deceased inmate can proceed with wrongful death claim

In Aug. 2015, Orlando police arrested a Florida man after they sent a canine officer to find where he was hiding. Reportedly, this followed an armed robbery of a convenience store. After his arrest, the man received medical treatment at a public medical facility for hand and leg wounds that were caused by dog bites during the struggle. He was later transferred to the infirmary of the county jail where alleged deliberate indifference led to his death, in turn leading to a wrongful death claim filed by his family in 2017.

According to court documents, the autopsy report indicates that one of the dog bites on the man's leg developed an E.coli infection, and the subsequent fatal blood infection. The coroner determined that, although his death was caused by septic shock, the fact that he was HIV positive likely contributed to his death. A spokesperson for the American Civil Liberties Union says the family of the deceased man will have to prove deliberate indifference by the defendant to establish the violation of a constitutional right.

A U.S. District Court judge has issued a court order to allow the claim to proceed to trial. He ruled that the facility's medical director who examined the bite wound on the man's leg was aware of its severity and also the HIV status of the patient. Nevertheless, the director deliberately chose to play no active role in the medical treatment of the inmate.

For the Florida family who lost the loved one, the court order to allow the wrongful death claim to proceed only brings them a bit closer to obtaining financial relief for the economic and noneconomic damages they sustained. They will likely find the rest of the legal proceedings a daunting prospect, but help is available. An experienced personal injury attorney can be there for them with every step along the way.

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