On March 27th, a jury in Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, found that private jail medical contractor PrimeCare Medical Inc. was negligent, but ultimately not responsible for the death of 27-year-old inmate Travis Magditch.
The Magditch family sued PrimeCare and Lehigh County in 2012 after Travis was arrested for allegedly possessing drug paraphernalia and died of an asthma attack at the jail one day later.
The family’s attorney, David Inscho, told jurors this was Travis’ first time behind bars. He stated that he had “called his parents when he got there, begging to be bailed out.” The local police offered to release Travis into his father’s custody, but having seen his son struggle with heroin addiction for two years, he decided against it. Mr. Magditch believed this decision would force Travis to “get help for his drug addiction” and enter rehabilitation.
Travis had a history of suffering from severe shortness of breath due to asthma. The complaint states that he was assessed to have “severely low” lung function when he first entered the jail. Documents show medical staff noted his past with asthma and heroin addiction, including his prescriptions and use of an inhaler. They noted who his doctor was and how to contact the pharmacy to order his medications. But according to the lawsuit, medical staff only placed orders for some of his medications. Most notably, the inhaler was not included.
The morning after his arrest, the lawsuit claims that Travis was seen for sick-call and was assessed to be at level 1 – the highest priority level for medical care. Again, medical staff noted his history with asthma. Nonetheless, he was returned to his cell without a rescue inhaler. Continue reading