The family of Lina Odom, who died in custody at the Duval County Jail in 2018, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and ARMOR Correctional Health Services in Florida. Odom was 28 years old at the time of her death, which the suit alleges was due to negligence and lack of proper medical care.
What happened to Lina Odom?
After an arrest on April 22, 2018, Odom was in custody of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office in county jail for six days, upon which officers transferred her to a hospital, where she later died. The medical examiner’s autopsy showed that Odom died of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). This is a relatively rare condition where the patient’s heart muscles become abnormally thick. The autopsy additionally showed pulmonary edema, a condition caused by excess fluid in the lungs. The medical examiner also found cocaine, fentanyl, and Narcan in her bloodstream.
Family alleges negligence
According to news reports, Odom’s initial health screening showed that she was addicted to drugs and had previously suffered withdrawal seizures. The wrongful death lawsuit, however, claims that jail staff was negligent and ignored her extreme withdrawal symptoms, which eventually led to her hospitalization and death. Both Odom’s father and the family’s attorney told the media that witnesses described the events they saw unfold.
Odom’s father said another inmate texted him about his daughter’s stay at the Duval County Jail. The inmate claimed that Odom was suffering withdrawal symptoms upon her arrival at the facility and as time passed, her condition worsened. When she requested medical attention, she was ignored. The inmate also alleged Odom passed out in the shower, falling down, and the guards told the inmates to leave her alone.
Odom’s father says the witness told him she was then moved to a bed, with a blanket to cover her body. He said, “And then a little while later, they hauled her away in a wheelchair, but she was already dead by then.”
Lina Odom’s family filed a wrongful death suit on October 16 for failure to provide proper medical care.
Suing a jail for wrongful death
Taking legal action against a jail or detention facility is quite different than taking action against a private individual or entity. The law imposes certain restrictions and deadlines, and matters like gathering information and evidence – like security video and witness statements – can be much more difficult. In this case, Odom’s family is suing both the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and ARMOR Correctional Health Services, the jail’s medical contractor.
However, it does not matter if someone has a badge, a uniform, or any degree of power. It does not give the authority figure the right to treat anyone as if he or she does not have or deserve rights. In-custody death is often caused by negligence and failure to provide health care in a timely or proper manner. When civil servants fail in their duty to protect all citizens, they must be held accountable.
The wrongful death attorneys at Mezrano Law Firm have extensive experience working with the families of victims to get to the bottom of what happened to your loved one. We have the resources and connections necessary to hold the right people responsible. Call us at 205-206-6300 or complete our contact form to schedule a consultation in Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Mobile, Montgomery, Florence, and Gadsden.