FARMINGTON — Davis County has appealed a judge’s ruling that said a jail nurse was deliberately indifferent to the medical care of an inmate who bled to death after a fall.
The county served notice with the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver its challenge to the ruling by U.S. District Judge Jill Parrish in a civil lawsuit over the death of Heather Miller, 28, on Dec. 21, 2016.
In her Sept. 23 decision in Salt Lake City, Parrish denied qualified immunity to nurse Marvin Anderson, a legal status that protects government employees from exposure to monetary damage awards unless they are found to have been deliberately indifferent.
Cynthia Stella, Miller’s mother, filed suit against the county in January 2018, alleging Anderson failed to take Miller’s vital signs and thereby violated her Eighth Amendment right to adequate medical care while in custody.
Miller was dead about three hours later of massive internal bleeding from a nearly severed spleen.
In a document filed with the appeals court Wednesday, Jesse Trentadue, an attorney representing the county, also challenged the lower court’s refusal to throw out expert testimony Stella’s lawyers presented against Anderson and jail operations.
Trentadue additionally appealed to Parrish in another filing on Sept. 27, asking that she reconsider her decision not to grant the county itself qualified immunity.
Parrish ruled that Stella’s attorneys are entitled to proceed to trial on their allegation that Davis County’s lack of written jail medical policies played a role in Miller’s death.
But further, Parrish ruled that then-Sheriff Todd Richardson and jail nursing supervisor James Ondricek are entitled to qualified immunity from the civil suit. That’s because Stella’s attorneys failed to demonstrate those officials were aware that any substantial risk to inmates existed from the lack of policies.
Trentadue argues that same logic should apply to the county’s liability as well.
No further hearings have yet been scheduled in the case.