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County settles suit brought by heroin addict, father who died in jail

Editor’s note: An I-Team investigation found more than a dozen lawsuits against area jails claiming inmates were beaten, raped, medically neglected or killed in jail. In addition to possibly costing taxpayers dearly, advocates for inmates say these cases suggest a failure of the system to protect vulnerable people in public custody. Read our full investigation here.

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The family of a 25-year-old father of two who died from issues related to heroin withdrawal at the Warren County jail has dismissed the lawsuit against the county and its jail healthcare provider after reaching a legal settlement.

Jason Pittman died in 2015 of dehydration related to withdrawal from heroin, according to a lawsuit filed by his mother that sought to “encourage defendants to provide appropriate treatment for future inmates suffering from drug addiction.”

Whether it accomplished that goal is unclear, as the settlement prevents either the plaintiff’s attorney or the sheriff from talking about it.

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RELATED: Lawsuits allege rape, neglect at Warren County jail

But the settlement agreement, obtained under Ohio public records law, shows the county was released from the lawsuit Jan. 30 after its insurance agency agreed to pay $25,000 to settle the suit.

The settlement specifies county officials deny any liability with respect to Pittman’s death.

Court records say a separate settlement was reached with Correctional Healthcare Companies, which provides medical services at the jail. But the terms of that agreement are not public.

RELATED: I-Team investigates alleged abuse, neglect in area jails

Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell said the county’s agreement with its insurance agency, the County Risk Sharing Authority of Ohio, gives CORSA the authority to decide when to settle such lawsuits.

CORSA then pays the settlement, and the county is responsible for reimbursing the agency up to its deductible for legal fees and settlement costs, which is $50,000.

Pittman was in jail for missing a number of probation appointments and drug screens, his lawsuit says.

Jail experts say the issue of inmates suffering dangerous withdrawal in jail is a pressing one, and many have called for more treatment options for inmates.

RELATED: Jails struggle with addiction, mental illness

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