Jail death lawsuit: County wants to delay trial, but judge says no

A federal judge has denied a motion to continue the trial of the wrongful death lawsuit brought by the estate of Robert A. Richardson Sr., who died in 2012 in the Montgomery County Jail after suffering a seizure.

County attorneys sought a stay so they could try to get an appeal heard by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), but U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Michael Newman ruled that “no factor weighs in favor” of delaying the trial. Newman set a scheduling teleconference for Wednesday.

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Richardson, 28, died May 19, 2012, after suffering a seizure before corrections officers and medical personnel put him in handcuffs and restrained him face down until later realizing he had died. Jail surveillance video showed the 22-minute incident.

An administrator of Richardson’s estate filed a civil rights and wrongful death lawsuit in 2014 against Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer, jail officers and personnel from NaphCare, the jail’s contracted health-care provider. NaphCare settled for $500,000, according to court documents. That money went to legal fees, and a portion was split among Richardson’s nine children.

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Montgomery County attorneys Keith Hansbrough and Jillian Dinehart had sought to reverse Newman’s ruling, which denied qualified immunity and state law immunity for law enforcement personnel.

A Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals panel upheld Newman’s decision 3-0. County attorneys asked for a reconsideration, which was quickly denied.

RELATED: Internal investigation in Richardson case found no wrongdoing

In a motion filed in Dayton’s U.S. District Court, attorneys asked Newman to delay the trial to see if four Supreme Court justices would vote to review the case. The petition to the SCOTUS is due before July 30.

“Here, the Sixth Circuit unanimously affirmed the undersigned’s decision on summary judgment … and the undersigned finds no reasonable (probability) that four Justices will vote to grant certiorari; no significant possibility that the Court’s denial of summary judgment will be reversed; and no harm will result to Defendants other than the cost associated with litigation,” Newman wrote. “Accordingly, no factor weighs in favor of granting a stay of proceedings.”

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