Parents suing Washington Co. and jail health care provider over - KPTV - FOX 12

Parents suing Washington Co. and jail health care provider over daughter's death

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The family of Madaline Pitkin say her pleas for help while going through heroin withdrawal when she was an inmate in the Washington Co. Jail were ignored by contracted health care workers until she died. (KPTV) The family of Madaline Pitkin say her pleas for help while going through heroin withdrawal when she was an inmate in the Washington Co. Jail were ignored by contracted health care workers until she died. (KPTV)
WASHINGTON COUNTY, OR (KPTV) -

The parents of a young woman who died in the Washington County Jail are suing the county and the healthcare company that was supposed to treat her.

The incident happened in the spring of 2014 when Madaline Pitkin was struggling with a heroin addiction.

She was arrested and died in the jail seven days later, and her parents feel the county and the jail medical staff are to blame.

It’s been two and a half years since Mary and Russ Pitkin lost their daughter, but the pain is still fresh, mostly because they feel she didn’t have to die.

“Well, first of all, we loved her very much,” Mary Pitkin said. “Never in a million years would we have thought that something like this would happen to her.”

Madaline Pitkin was booked into the jail for heroin possession on April 17, 2014, and she started going through withdrawals.

The attorney for the Pitkins, Tim Jones, says she got very sick and wrote letters begging for help.

“My muscles are cramping and twitching, I am so weak I cannot stand, I can’t walk without almost fainting, I feel near death,” he read from her letter.

Contract employees with Corizon Health treated inmates on site, but even after four letters, the Pitkins say their daughter was ignored until she collapsed on the floor and died one week after her arrest.

“I just can’t imagine people that are so heartless that maybe they don’t view prisoners as people,” Mary Pitkin said.

Washington County cut ties with Corizon shortly after the death, and county leaders said in a statement that, “the sheriff was shocked and dismayed to learn of Corizon’s apparent lack of response to her written requests for medical help.”

The sheriff launched an investigation, but the district attorney found no criminal wrongdoing.

County officials say Corizon still refuses to take responsibility for the incident, so “...Washington County will likely join plaintiff in filing claims against Corizon related to this incident.”

The Pitkins say Madaline was a kind woman with a bright future who needed help. Most of all, they say she needed the right people to do their jobs.

“It all seems to boil down to money, and the only way to get their attention is to make it hurt,” Russ Pitkin said.

“People liked her, she was a very good person, and we miss her,” his wife added.

The Pitkin’s are suing Washington County and Corizon Health for a total of $20 million in damages.

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