Lawsuit: KY cop detained woman for DUI, ignored medical needs as she suffered fatal heart attack

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The daughter of a Kentucky woman has filed a federal lawsuit against several entities in Laurel County after her mother allegedly died from a heart attack when her medical needs were ignored by police and jail staff last year.

Samara Witt, daughter of the late Danielle Todd, has filed a federal lawsuit against Saint Joseph Health, Commonspirit Health, London police officer Logan Medlock, the city of London, and the Laurel County Detention Center. She’s also suing the deputies at the jail.

Witt claims in her civil suit that negligence from those she’s suing on May 12, 2021, resulted in the death of her mother on May 13.

Due to pending litigation, Laurel Jailer Jamie Mosley said he did not feel it was appropriate to comment. Mary Brown, director of communications for St. Joseph, also declined to comment due to pending litigation. London Mayor Troy Rudder was not immediately available for comment.

Todd was pulled over by Medlock for suspicion of driving while intoxicated, according to court documents. At 8:48 p.m. on May 12, Todd left her vehicle, immediately informing Medlock she suffered from “ticks” in response to the officer’s questioning, in addition to the fact she had a pain pump and took prescribed Adderall.

Witt alleges in her lawsuit that, according to body camera footage worn by Medlock, he asked Todd if she was on methamphetamine, which she denied.

Despite pulling Todd over for suspicion of driving under the influence, Medlock did not perform any field sobriety tests on Todd, according to the court documents. Medlock told an assisting officer, “I don’t know what she is on, but it has to be meth,” and “She is frickin’ hammered,” according to court records.

The court documents state that at this time, Todd’s movements were erratic, her speech rushed and circular. She told Medlock she was ticking badly, and suffers from Multiple Sclerosis and demyelinating disease, which cause ticks and erratic behavior.

At 9 p.m. Todd requested to be taken to the emergency room, and continued to explain why she could not control her movements. Medlock reportedly took Todd to Saint Joseph, but solely for the purpose of a blood draw to confirm she was intoxicated, according to court records.

Medlock told his sergeant Todd was “tweaking hard core,” and had perhaps “taken bath salts,” according to the court documents,

Todd was removed from the cruiser to be taken in the hospital, and could be seen on video footage sweating profusely and struggling to breathe, according to court records. Inside the hospital, she reportedly continued to show involuntary movements, circular speech, and pain, according to court records.

She attempted to tell nursing staff she was having a Multiple Sclerosis flare up and was told the hospital staff does not have access to her medical chart, according to the court documents.

“In reality, Todd has received years of treatment by Defendant Saint Joseph, and Saint Joseph was in possession of her medical history, which was significant for palpitations, ventricular tachycardia, and other potentially serious cardiac and neurological conditions,” the lawsuit said.

Todd continued to request to see a nurse or doctor, and can be heard on the video footage telling the staff and officer she was suffering from an irregular heartbeat, and has had a stroke in the past, according to court records.

Court documents state Todd specifically asked the hospital staff to acknowledge they heard her requests to see a doctor and her complaints, and they allegedly can be seen on the footage nodding their heads.

The staff “failed and refused” to examine Todd, and she continued to ask and eventually beg to be seen by a nurse or physician indicating she was beginning to feel dizzy, had a burning in her shoulder, and an irregular heartbeat, the court document states.

Medlock told Todd there are doctors at the jail who will help her, and placed her in the cruiser. However, the court documents state Medlock told a coworker earlier there was no medical staff at the jail at that time of the night.

The woman continued to beg to be seen but was not allowed to see any medical professional and she was booked into the Laurel County Detention Center at 11:30 p.m., where she began to tell the jail staff of the medical emergency she was experiencing.

The lawsuit alleges Medlock failed to relay any information that Todd provided regarding her medical conditions and other complaints to the jail staff, and only mentioned she had a “pain pump” and is prescribed Adderall.

Court documents further state she was not properly booked into the facility and not medically screened before being placed in a cell around 11:45 p.m.

From around 12:30 a.m. to 4:19 a.m. on May 13, Todd can be seen and heard moaning, pacing and making significant jerky movements, according to court documents.

Throughout the morning and into the afternoon, Todd was taken out of the cell several times and continued to exhibit pain and nausea, according to court records. When she was taken to a pre-trial hearing at 10:56 a.m. she asked to make a phone call and was denied.

Several hours later, Buttrey, one of the defendants named in the lawsuit, completed and signed the “Standard Medical Questions” form where Todd answered she did have a history of diabetes, heart disease, seizures, arthritis, asthma, ulcers, high blood pressure, and/or other medical problems.

Todd also notified the jail staff in the questionnaire she was either on oxygen or required equipment for breathing treatments, according to court records.

According to the lawsuit, she continued to exhibit signs of distress and was asked by jail staff at one point, “What is wrong with you?” and “You’re on something, obviously, have you (overdosed)?”

At 2:38 p.m. she began convulsing, and emergency personnel were called 12 minutes later and began chest compressions, CPR, and use of a defibrillator, according to court records. At 3:05 p.m. she was transported to the Saint Joseph Hospital where she was pronounced dead from a heart attack.

The court documents state Medlock acted with “deliberate indifference to the serious medical needs” of Todd. The lawsuit also stated he was aware of the serious medical issues affecting Todd based on his statements regarding her behavior and what he perceived to be intoxication by bath salts or methamphetamine, both of which can cause death.

The documents further state Medlock refused to request examination at the hospital or advise nurses of Todd’s statements to him about her condition or medical history which were stressed by Todd numerous times.

“Based on the foregoing, Medlock acted with deliberate indifference to the serious medical needs of Danielle Todd and thereby violated her civil rights as a pre-trial detainee under the Eighth and/or Fourteenth amendment to the United States Constitution,” the lawsuit stated.

The lawsuit alleges the city of London was responsible for Medlock’s action because his acts were pursuant to policies and practices of the police department, which is an extension of the city government who determines the policies, practices, rules and regulations.

“As a direct and proximate result of the foregoing, Danielle Todd endured hours of pain, suffering, anguish and ultimately death due to a heart attack in a cell of the Laurel County Detention Center,” the lawsuit stated.

Todd’s daughter said in the lawsuit that if it weren’t for the city and Medlock, Todd would have received life-saving treatment and survived.

The lawsuit cites similar claims of negligence and disregard by the other defendants at the detention center, the hospital, and the individuals involved in both facilities.

Witt is seeking a jury trial, judgment against all the defendants, jointly and severally, and money for medical expenses, loss of lifetime earning capacity, conscious pain, suffering, and emotional anguish until death. She’s also seeking an award of punitive damages against the defendants and any other relief which may be suitable.