NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

February 23, 2013

Lawsuit: Cancer patient didn't get medication at jail

By Julie Manganis
Staff Writer

---- — MIDDLETON — The family of a cancer patient who died in 2010 after he was allegedly deprived of his cancer medication for a week while in custody at Middleton Jail has filed a $2 million wrongful death lawsuit against the Essex County Sheriff’s Department.

Jeddy Darryl Warner was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer called a gastrointestinal stromal tumor while serving an eight-year federal prison sentence for check fraud in upstate New York in 2004.

After undergoing surgery and follow-up care at hospitals near his prison, he was paroled and moved to Massachusetts, where he continued receiving treatment at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, his lawyers, Glen Vasa and Daniel Hutton, say in court papers.

He followed an at-home regimen of medications, including Gleevec, which is an anti-cancer drug used to treat patients with rare cancers.

Warner ended up back in trouble in 2007 for a check fraud case in Salem. He eventually pleaded guilty, according to an account in The Daily News’ sister newspaper The Salem News, and was placed on probation but ended up back in custody again in 2010.

According to the lawsuit, filed Feb. 15 in Salem Superior Court, Warner arrived at Middleton Jail on Jan. 15, 2010, after he was unable to make bail in a Haverhill District Court case. He remained in custody as he was brought to several other courts in Essex County, where he had warrants.

“While in custody ... Mr. Warner did not receive his vitally necessary medications,” including Gleevec, the family’s lawyer wrote.

Warner’s sister, Madeline, said she learned about the situation when she saw him during an appearance in Lynn District Court. When she tried to arrange for his medications to be sent back to the jail with him, she was told that Warner was receiving only those drugs that were available inside the jail and that officials would not administer any drugs from an outside source.

Gleevec was not available at the jail, so Warner did not receive it, according to the lawsuit.

A week after he was sent to Middleton, Warner was found unconscious on the floor of the jail’s infirmary. He was taken to Beverly Hospital and spent several days on life support, the lawsuit says, before he regained consciousness and was discharged.

A judge in Haverhill agreed to reduce Warner’s bail so he could go home, on Feb. 1. On Feb. 17, he died. He was 46.

“My client’s death was the direct result of the interference of your facility in his medication and treatment regimen,” the lawyers say in their complaint.

The lawsuit seeks damages of at least $2 million for wrongful death and negligent hiring and supervision.

Two years ago, the lawyers sent a notice to the jail seeking to settle the claim, according to the complaint. That’s required by a state law that calls for plaintiffs to give notice when suing a municipality or government agency.

Maurice Pratt, a spokesman for the Sheriff’s Department, said earlier this week that the agency had not yet received a copy of the lawsuit.