Chris and James Welsh of Welsh & Welsh
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Family Seeks Justice for Death of Mentally Ill Woman in Jail

Published on Oct 16, 2018 at 2:38 pm in News.

Susan Kiscoan’s parents, with legal representation from Welsh & Welsh PC, LLO, have filed a wrongful death claim with Douglas County, NE. They are seeking $2 million for the death of their daughter, who passed away while in the Douglas County Jail.

On September 14, 2017, Susan Kiscoan, a woman diagnosed with schizophrenia and Addison’s disease, a condition that attacks the adrenal glands, was staying at the Lydia House, an emergency shelter for women. She was arrested at CHI Health Clinic, just north of downtown Omaha, for trespassing when she refused to leave the clinic. While this type of misdemeanor typically results in a $25 fine or a day in jail, Kiscoan was booked at 4:49 PM and remained at the facility until she died on September 28.

The 45-year-old woman suffered from a number of physical and mental issues while incarcerated, but no one from Douglas County Jail attempted to seek hospitalization for her. Even the other inmates noticed something was wrong. One of the inmates wrote a letter to the Omaha World-Herald stating Kiscoan had been incredibly ill for days and was unable to stand on her own. While many inmates asked for medical attention, it never came.

When she initially arrived at the jail, a deputy attorney declined to file a petition that would have forced Kiscoan into the hospital because she did not appear to be a danger to herself. A public defender was denied twice when they tried to see her. It’s also possible Kiscoan declined the opportunity to plead to the infraction and get out of jail the day of her first appearance. Because of those events, she died in the jail from the Addison’s.

A grand jury agreed Kiscoan died because she wasn’t given proper medical attention; however, they did not charge anyone with the crime. They did issue a report, asking the Douglas County Jail and its medical provider, Correct Care Solutions, to provide “additional training on all health issues especially deteriorating ones”; to “make more detailed documentation and communication on health issues”; and to “implement a policy on when an inmate requires hospitalization.”

The claim her parents are filing is just one of at least 13 other lawsuits filed against Douglas County over inmates’ claims that the county’s medical provider failed to treat them properly.

According to the Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine, the criminal justice system is not set up to treat the mental health needs of inmates. Kiscoan’s case confirms this.