Jail Custody Death Cases

In May 2012 twenty four year old Nathan Cooper died while in custody in the Cottage Grove (Oregon) Municipal Jail of complications from pneumonia. In April 2015, after almost three years of investigation and litigation, including successfully opposing the City of Cottage Grove’s Motion for Summary Judgment, Janssen Malloy LLP partners Michael Crowley and Megan Yarnall obtained $450,000 for the wrongful death of Nathan Cooper on behalf of a surviving family member.
Investigating, filing, and eventually trying a wrongful death case involving the negligence of correctional facility staff is a complex task that involves state and federal substantive and procedural law and multiple expert witnesses for each side. The government defendants tend to be especially motivated to contest the claims for a number of reasons – damages for wrongful death alone may be quite substantial, exposure increases greatly if the plaintiffs can show that the state acted with “deliberate indifference” in violation of the Eighth Amendment with potential punitive damage and attorneys’ fees awards, and there may be a fear that a substantial settlement or verdict would result in the floodgates of additional claims of inmate mistreatment opening.
Although thankfully a rare occurrence, Janssen Malloy LLP’s attorneys have the experience, expertise, and tenacity to investigate and pursue such claims on behalf of family members of inmates whose deaths could have been avoided.