The federal civil rights lawsuit concerning the 2014 suicide of an inmate at Erie County Prison, Pennsylvania has made some strides. The county and Wexford Health Sources Inc, the medical contractor of the prison, have agreed to a financial settlement with Mason Murzynski’s family.
Erie County Prison Inmate’s Family Settles with County and Wexford Health Sources Inc
Erie County Prison agreed to pay $75,000 to the estate of Mason Murzynski, who hanged himself three days after being imprisoned. Murzynski was sentenced to prison for failing to pay traffic violations-related fines on November 12, 2014.
The county’s portion of the settlement will be paid by its insurer.
Wexford Health Sources Inc., meanwhile, will pay $50,000.
Court filings show that more than $80,000 of the settlement money would be used to pay for Murzynski’s legal expenses. Murzynski is represented by Rolf Patberg, who said the agreement is “fair and equitable.”
The settlement would put an end to the county and medical contractor’s involvement in the federal civil rights lawsuit. Laurel Murzynski, Mason’s mother and administrator of his estate, first filed the case in the US District Court in Erie in August 2015.
As a condition of the agreement, both Erie County and Wexford Health Sources Inc did not admit to any wrongdoing.
Under the settlement, Erie County will “review and consider” the plaintiff’s concerns on prison operations. These include improved psychiatric assessments and education of prison staff in psychiatric conditions.
The county’s settlement agreement also included Erie County Prison Warden Kevin Sutter and other county employees who were part of the suit.
Erie County Prison Hearing Date Set for November 6
Approval of the settlement must come from the Erie County Orphans’ Court since an estate is concerned.
Judge Elizabeth K. Kelly set the hearing date on November 6.
Federal civil right suit still ongoing against other parties
The federal civil rights lawsuit will continue against Stairways Behavioral Health and several of its employees. Stairways Behavioral Health provides mental health services at the Erie County Prison.
The suit alleged that prison staff knew Mason, 22, was suicidal but did not take necessary actions to prevent his death. Based on court filings, the inmate suffered from “substance addiction and mental health issues.”
It further claimed that the prison did not place the inmate on “suicide watch” or take other measures despite an earlier advice from the judge regarding Mason’s suicidal’s statement.