Attorneys argue jail, health care provider were negligent in inmate’s death

GRANT COUNTY, Ind. – Attorneys for Kendra Shaw’s mother, Bobbie Sue Frazier, have filed a lawsuit alleging the Grant County Sheriff and Correctional Healthcare Companies were negligent in Shaw’s death, Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney reported.

Kendra Shaw, 25, had an acute asthma attack on May 7, while in the Grant County Jail for probation violation and theft.

She was taken off life support and died May 8 at a Fort Wayne hospital.

Attorneys allege the jail corrections officers failed to call the ambulance in time to save Shaw’s life.

“I think it’s a tragic case,” said Tim Rowe, attorney for Frazier. “It could have so easily been prevented.”

Grant County Jail policy states that when an inmate is having an “emergency medical situation” such as “serious breathing difficulties,” officers should administer first aid immediately, and a command officer should call for an ambulance.

Records and video obtained by the Call 6 Investigators show Shaw told jail staff at 3:33 a.m. on May 7 that she was having an asthma attack and couldn’t breathe.

The lawsuit alleges jail staff did not immediately call for an ambulance or contact the hospital when Shaw complained she couldn’t breathe.

Instead, officers took Shaw into the “barber shop” room to receive a breathing treatment. Shaw never made it through the first breathing treatment.

Instead she urinated herself, foamed at the mouth and stopped breathing, records show.

“After she lost consciousness there still seemed to be a delay before the ambulance was even called,” Rowe said. “I think instead of trying to give her another breathing treatment they should’ve called the ambulance.”

The lawsuit alleges jail staff did not call the ambulance until 3:53 a.m., 20 minutes after Shaw told jail staff she was having an asthma attack and couldn’t breathe.

“She had a serious medical problem,” said Rich Waples, attorney for Frazier. “The Sheriff’s department knew about it but didn’t adequately protect her from the consequences of it.”

Attorneys for Bobbie Sue Frazier also take exception to the fact that no medical personnel from Correctional Healthcare Companies ever examined Shaw after she announced she was having an asthma attack, and “no one measured her oxygen saturation level.”

Two days earlier, a CHC nurse measured Shaw’s oxygen saturation levels at a “dangerously low 90-percent”, but the nurse released Shaw back into the jail’s general population without treatment or a plan for additional measurements of her oxygen saturation levels, the lawsuit read.

“Very simple medical treatment in this case, and this young woman would still be alive,” Rowe said. “She had asthma attacks in the past but when it got so bad, she went to the hospital and always recovered by the next day. It wasn’t anything so acute or so bad it couldn’t be remedied by simple medical care from the hospital.”

The lawsuit alleges one of the corrections officers had been on the job for several months and had not yet received training on the jail’s procedures on how to respond to medical emergencies.

“When a person suffering from asthma is having an attack and difficulty breathing, every second counts in getting them appropriate treatment,” read the lawsuit.

Rowe said Frazier is heartbroken over the loss of her daughter.

“I’m not sure this is something she will ever get over,” said Rowe. “She struggles with it every day.”

Rowe said Shaw’s family should be compensated, but Rowe said the case is about more than money.

“This can prevent another death from happening in Grant County,” said Rowe. “We want justice in this case, justice for Kendra and justice for her family. Unfortunately, we can’t bring her back.”

Kenney attempted to reach the Grant County Sheriff and attorney Kyle Persinger for comment and has not heard back.

Kenney also attempted to reach Correctional Healthcare Companies for a response and has not heard back.

It appears they are now operating under a new name, Correct Care Solutions.

A federal court search shows the provider is facing dozens of lawsuits throughout the country.

KJRH, RTV6’s sister station in Tulsa, reported last year Correctional Healthcare Companies is facing at least 20 different lawsuits alleging mistreatment and civil rights violations by the health care provider.

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