clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Judge cites opioid crisis as suit continues in death of Utah inmate

Utahns are watching closely as the future of the Affordable Care Act is considered by a three-judge panel from the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. The judges heard oral arguments on the constitutionality of the act in New Orleans on Tuesday.
A federal judge has declined to toss a father's legal claims that a doctor and his assistant were in part responsible for the death of his 21-year-old daughter as she withdrew from heroin in the rural Duchesne County Jail.
Adobe Stock

SALT LAKE CITY — A federal judge has declined to toss a father's legal claims that a doctor and his assistant were in part responsible for the death of his 21-year-old daughter as she withdrew from heroin in the rural Duchesne County Jail.

Jared Jensen contends the medical workers' contracts required them to create jail policies that could have ultimately saved Madison Jensen's life, U.S. District Judge Dale Kimball noted in a Monday written order. But because of a "complete lack of training and protocols," jail employees were unaware of when to call doctor Kennon Tubbs and his assistant Logan Clark for help.

Madison Jensen died in her cell on Dec. 1, 2016, of severe dehydration, court documents say. She was booked four days earlier, after she told an officer she was coming off of heroin and her father told police she had been acting erratically and discussed suicide.

Attorneys for the medical workers argued earlier this month that the facts her father laid out don't support his legal claims, which include deliberate indifference on the part of their clients. They argued jail nurse Jana Clyde knew to call them if she spotted concerning issues, but instead dropped off a Gatorade for Jensen the day before her death and failed to take her vital signs.

The judge rejected their requests to be dropped from the suit.

"As medical professionals, Tubbs and Clark knew of the opioid crisis and knew the jail would inevitably have inmates suffering from opiate withdrawal and severe dehydration," Kimball wrote in his order. The pair knew other jails had such policies, he added, and should have foreseen the need for training.

Other claims against Clyde and the county remain pending. Clyde also faces a criminal count of negligent homicide, a misdemeanor, in Vernal's 8th District Court.