Oregon Jail Death Case Settlement

Janssen Malloy attorneys Michael Crowley and Megan Yarnall recently negotiated a $450,000 settlement with the City of Cottage Grove, Oregon in a civil rights lawsuit filed following the May 2012 death of twenty four year old Nathan Cooper in the Cottage Grove Municipal Jail. Mr. Cooper was in custody serving a ten day sentence for possession of a single Xanax pill without a prescription. While in custody, Mr. Cooper suffered from pneumonia, but was denied appropriate medical care.

After approximately thirty-six hours in custody, the Cottage Grove Police Department released Mr. Cooper to seek medical attention, contrary to the jail’s written policies. When Mr. Cooper returned to the jail three days later, he began exhibiting the same symptoms, including uncontrollable vomiting. Despite his obvious need for medical care, Cottage Grove Police Department personnel failed to obtain such care for Mr. Cooper, denying his direct request and ignoring the instructions of paramedics who evaluated Mr. Cooper and Cottage Grover Police Department’s own written policies. Approximately five days after he was rebooked into the jail, Mr. Cooper died in his cell from complications of his pneumonia.

Mr. Cooper’s mother filed this lawsuit to ensure that what happened to her son does not happen to anyone else. It goes without saying that no settlement offer or jury award will make Mr. Cooper or his family whole. We are hopeful that the City of Cottage Grove and the Cottage Grove Police Department find that, in the future, the better course is to provide adequate care to inmates under their care and custody, in part by adequately staffing and funding the Cottage Grove Municipal Jail and providing appropriate training to the jail staff. The Eugene Register-Guard’s article related to the settlement is available here.

The attorneys at Janssen Malloy LLP are experienced in handling these types of cases through mediation and trial in order to maximize our client’s recovery. Our lawyers stand ready to assist you or your family when the need arises.

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