• Jury may hold Orange County, jail responsible for death of inmate bitten by dog

    By: Field Sutton , James Tutten

    Updated:

    ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - A federal judge said there's a good chance a jury will hold Orange County and the jail responsible for the death of an inmate who was bitten by a dog.

    It's been four years since Max Gracia died in custody and his family said they have been trying to get Orange County to apologize.

    Family members said they sued not for the money, but because they say no one the jail has ever said, “I'm sorry.”


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    Four years after a shoplifting incident led to Gracia running from police, getting bitten by a dog and dying from sepsis stemming from the bite, the Orange County Jail's medical procedures are now under a microscope.

    In federal court, the judge decided to force several of Gracia's nurses and a doctor to face the lawsuit.

    "My son screamed and laid there in agony and pain, dying. My God," his mother Willine Gracia said during an interview in 2017.

    Gracia's mom said in 2017 that she wanted to fix the jail's allegedly lax medical care before someone else had to bury a child.

    At that point, she'd already been waiting for her apology for a year and a half.

    The federal judge's order said the jail's medical practices were likely substandard.

    According to documents, "the only reason" Gracia's doctor ever actually saw him "was because a nurse had called in sick."

    That same doctor, "examined Gracia, who was HIV-positive, with a severe dog-bite wound and deliberately declined to play any active role in his subsequent treatment," according to a report.

    The judge writes, "That behavior is the very essence of deliberate indifference."

    His ruling goes on to talk about nurses who thought other nurses were doctors, and staffing levels far below typical standards of care indicating a jury could hold Orange County accountable for Gracia's death.

    The jail sent a statement saying, "With our new leadership team in place, we are committed to ensuring corrections health services are meeting the needs of our inmates and providing adequate healthcare to those individuals in our custody."

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