Feb. 21—Lackawanna County recently agreed to settle two unrelated lawsuits filed against the county prison by the mother of a man who hanged himself in his cell and a man who alleged he was denied proper medical care.
The county and prison agreed to pay $170,000 to Lisa Loughney in connection with the July 27, 2018, suicide of her son, Ryan Lynady.
The county and prison also agreed to pay $75,000 to settle claims filed by Amir Whitehurst, who alleged he nearly died in June 2015 after prison staff and employees of its former medical provider, Correctional Care Inc., failed to respond to a serious medical issue he suffered.
Loughney filed suit in 2019, alleging prison and medical staff ignored clear signs Lynady was in severe mental and physical distress after he was detained at the prison on drug charges.
According to the suit filed by Scranton attorney Matthew Comerford, the staff knew Lynady was a mentally ill drug addict and would suffer withdrawal symptoms. Despite that, he was not provided medication to alleviate the symptoms and was not evaluated by a psychiatrist to assess his risk for suicide.
The Whitehurst lawsuit, which also was filed by Comerford, said Whitehurst suffers from mental health issues that caused him to act out. Rather than treat him, prison staff repeatedly forced him into a restraint chair for more than eight hours at a time.
The lawsuit, filed in 2017, alleged staff failed to properly monitor his condition during that time, causing his health to deteriorate. He was rushed to the hospital June 9, 2015, after a guard found him unresponsive in his cell.
In addition to the county, both lawsuits named several other defendants, including Dr. Edward Zaloga, owner of Correctional Care, which had provided medical care at the prison since 2004. County commissioners opted not to renew Correctional Care's contract in November and hired Wellpath to provide medical services.
Donald Frederickson, general counsel for the county, said the county and prison did not admit any wrongdoing. Officials agreed to the settlement at the request of their insurance carriers, which are paying the settlement amounts less a deductible.
Whitehurst also settled claims against Correctional Care. Details of that settlement were not available. Loughney's claims against Correctional Care remain pending.
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