9 Investigates

Lawsuit claims Brevard County inmate died following weeks of pain, poor medical care

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — The family of a former Brevard County inmate has filed a lawsuit accusing the company that provides medical care inside the jail of causing his death.

Investigative reporter Karla Ray has been uncovering complaints against Armor Correctional Health Services for nearly two years.

Charles Jones was a registered sex offender who went back to jail for failing to re-register his address on time.  He was being held on that violation of probation at the time of his death.

When 9 Investigates started looking into his death, Ray learned the company that provides care at that jail and several others across the state has been the target of dozens of lawsuits nationwide.

Weeks after his death in late August 2016, Jones’ family said they believe he suffered inside the Brevard County Jail.  The inmate had complained of severe stomach pain for weeks.

“Regardless of who it is, nobody deserve(s) to go through the pain that he went through,” Jones’ brother told 9 Investigates.

A recently-filed lawsuit claims that Jones developed signs and symptoms of enterocolitis and/or bowel obstruction, including significant sharp pains, fatigue, constipation and anemia.  The suit points to Armor Correctional nursing staff for not assessing the symptoms.

“There is a lack of attentive care that (led) to his ultimate death,” attorney Max Panoff said.

Panoff, who filed the suit on behalf of the Estate of Charles Jones, said Jones’ symptoms continued to worsen.  Two days before his death, an Armor Correctional LPN noted his, “breath has a fecal odor to it” which is a sign of a bowel blockage.  Almost 24 hours later, Jones was taken to the hospital, where he went into septic shock.

“Just because you're in jail, doesn’t mean you get to be treated less than an animal,” Panoff said.

Jones’ attorneys intend to argue a pattern of neglect by Armor Correctional.  The private company, which provides health care for multiple public jails across the country, has been the center of dozens of similar lawsuits, including one in New York state related to the deaths of five inmates.  In that case, Armor Correctional paid a settlement and left the Nassau correctional system.

“I never expected this at an institution that should've been watching,” Pia Sacchetta said.

Sacchetta is a Lake County mother who is now pursuing legal action against Armor Correctional as well.  9 Investigates obtained records that show her 43-year-old son, James Anglin, was left to violently vomit in a cell during drug withdrawal.  Those records show an Armor Correctional nurse stated she would, “see him in the morning,” and that since he missed the “medication pass earlier in the evening, she was not coming.”

Anglin had a seizure and died.

“Through lawsuits like this, and people coming forward, it will enable us to find out why they're getting repeat business,” Panoff said.

Armor Correctional released the following statement:

Armor Correctional Health Services is committed to providing quality care for its patients. We sympathize with Mr. Jones’ family for their loss. The company does not comment on pending litigation and adheres to federal HIPAA privacy laws that prohibit discussing specific patient information.

Karla Ray

Karla Ray, WFTV.com

Karla Ray anchors Eyewitness News This Morning on Saturday and Sundays, and is an investigative reporter for the 9 Investigates unit.