Lawsuit filed over inmate's 2010 death
The mother of an Ogle County Jail inmate who died last year is suing Ogle County officials and employees for more than $1 million for neglecting her son's medical needs—which she says led to his death.
Schaumburg attorney James Macchitelli filed the civil lawsuit in federal court in Rockford on May 2 in behalf of Valorie R. Greene-McCann.
Greene-McCann's son Patrick J. McCann, 34, died April 30, 2010 after he was found unresponsive in his cell at the Ogle County Jail, where he was being held on arson and aggravated domestic battery charges.
He was pronounced dead at KSB Hospital, Dixon, about an hour after jail employees doing routine rounds found him unresponsive and called the Oregon ambulance.
A Lee County Coroner's Jury ruled the cause of McCann's death to be undetermined.
McCann was accused of choking his mother on March 30, 2010 and then setting her house at 512 N. Adams, Polo, on fire.
Macchitelli is seeking "more than $1 million" for his client.
He said McCann committed the crimes because he was not taking medications prescribed for his mental disorders due to a delay in obtaining the prescriptions.
McCann had been discharged from parole March 29, 2010 after serving an 11-year sentence in the Illinois Department of Corrections for home invasion and aggravated domestic battery, offenses that occurred in McHenry County.
Macchitelli said McCann, who suffered from schizpphrenia and bipolar disorder, had second and third degree burns over 40 percent of his body as a result of the fire.
He had spent three weeks in St. Anthony Medical Center, Rockford, before being released April 20, 2010 into the custody of the Ogle County Sheriff's Department.
Ogle County State's Attorney John B. Roe, former sheriff Greg Beitel, and current sheriff Michael Harn are named in the suit along with 11 others.
Macchitelli said Roe and Beitel especially should be held responsible for what happened because they knew that jail staff and facilities were not adequate to treat a patient with medical conditions as severe as McCann's.
"It's my understanding that they asked for him to be released from the hospital," he said.
Besides the severe burns, Macchitelli said McCann was also taking several medications for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, as well as methadone for the pain.
All the medications require constant monitoring, he said.
Macchitelli said he is also looking into what part hospital officials played in the decision to release McCann.
The lawsuit alleges that Roe "demanded that he (McCann) be released from the hospital and incarcerated at the OCCC (Ogle County Correctional Center) facility."
"It is believed that Sheriff Beitel and John B. Roe decided that due to the criminal charges that were pending against plaintiff-decendent Patrick J. McCann and his criminal history 'it was their duty to society to ensure that Patrick J. McCann was detained in the OCCC.' Defendants, Sheriff Beitel and John B. Roe transferred plaintiff-decedent to OCCC knowing that the necessary and appropriate medical treatment was unavailable," the suit alleges.
The suit goes on to say that then-jail supervisor Wendy Kerwin, who is also named in the lawsuit, contacted the Winnebago County Jail Administrator Andrea Tack to see if Winnebago County would house McCann because their infirmary was better equipped.
However, Winnebago county officials refused to take him because of the "severity of his unstable medical condition and his substantial risk factors," the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit alleges that the defendants intentionally ignored McCann's deteriorating condition.
"Defendants were literally observing and recording plaintiff-decedent's death march, yet ignored intentionally and maliciously his most serious and rapidly deteriorating medical condition and turned a blind eye to his degrading, serious medical condition," it says.
Roe denied the allegations levied against him.
"I can only speak for myself," he said Monday. "The accusations against me in the lawsuit are untrue in their entirety."
Beitel declined to comment.
Harn said he is not sure why he is named as a defendant at all.
"I'm puzzled about being named since I wasn't the sheriff at the time and had nothing to do with decision-making in the unfortunate incident," he said.
He was serving as a patrol deputy at that time.
Others named in the lawsuit are then chief deputy Clint Myers; corrections officers Gerda Clark, Jennifer Ashley, Brian Ketter, Juan Carreno, Richard Krug Jr., Carla Balthaus, William White, and Judy Martin; jail nurse Cindy Mongan, an LPN; and Dr. Stephen Cullinan, a doctor hired by the county to treat inmates.
Roe said that because he is a defendant, he cannot represent the county employees or officials.
"Due to me being named in the lawsuit, the matter had been referred to the county's insurance provider. They will provide legal representation," he said.