The Luzerne County Council is gearing up to cough up over $100,000 in settlement for a suicide in its jail. Catherine Marie Jones Miller brought the suit against the county for the December 2012 death of her son Gary Allen Jones. This is one out of the many litigations brought against the county of which the county council has been trying to extricate itself.
Jones, 20, was incarcerated for violating his parole following release from jail for theft. He hanged himself in his cell and died of asphyxiation. The Luzerne County coroner’s office ruled the incident a suicide. Jones mother is suing for wrongful death, stating her son suffered untold pain while hanging before eventual death.
Jones Siblings and Father Included As Beneficiaries under the Suit
Catherine Miller, of West Pittston, filed the suit through her attorney, Amil Minora. Minora is joining the following parties in the suit –
- Luzerne County
- County council
- Former county manager Robert Lawton
- County corrections officers
- The county prison board
- The Luzerne County Correctional Facility
Jones mother is not the only one seeking damages for herself, she is joining other beneficiaries legally entitled to recover damages. These include Jones’ siblings Carl and Felicia Deininger and his father, Dale Wallace.
Over 25 Litigations Pending Against County with $600,000 Budgeted For Settlement
Attorney Minora alleges that the defendants were negligent in overseeing Jones in his cell. The deceased’s family insists the defendants failed to classify Jones as a high-risk inmate.
They allege properly evaluating Jones mental and emotional state would have alerted them to the required treatments and supervision he should need. They added Jones’ death was a direct result of the defendants’ negligence and inactions.
For 2017, the Luzerne County council budgeted $600,000 to take care of litigations and legal expenses not covered by insurance. Just last month, the county approved the payment of $35,000 to Loretta Presto, a disabled and an ex-Emergency Management Agency worker. There are currently over 25 active litigations against Luzerne County that are awaiting settlements.