A woman whose 25-year-old diabetic son died last April in East Baton Rouge Parish Prison, two days after being booked on a count of shoplifting, is seeking damages in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Randall Toler is at least the seventh Parish Prison inmate to die at the facility since early 2012, but attorneys for the parish’s sheriff and warden have said in an unrelated federal court case that the deaths do not point to a pattern of deficient inmate medical care.
The suit alleges that Toler, a Kentucky native, did not receive constitutionally guaranteed medical care after he was arrested April 18, 2015, and booked into Parish Prison.
Toler died April 20, 2015, from diabetic ketoacidosis, the suit says.
Diabetic ketoacidosis is a serious condition that results from a shortage of insulin and can lead to diabetic coma or even death.
The suit, filed by Tina Fugate on behalf of her son, says Toler disclosed he was diabetic during the booking process and was given 15 units of regular insulin. He remained for observation in the medical tank, where he complained of nausea and vomiting, the suit states.
After complaining at 1:30 p.m. on April 20, 2015, that he was feeling sick and needed to throw up, a 19th Judicial District Court commissioner requested that he be sent to prison medical immediately and see a particular doctor there. Toler was returned to the medical unit at 4:38 p.m. but never saw that doctor, the suit claims.
Toler’s condition continued to deteriorate, and about 7 p.m. a prison physician found him on the floor unresponsive and discolored. He was pronounced dead minutes later, the suit says.
The suit’s defendants are the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff Sid Gautreaux, Parish Prison and its warden, Lt. Col. Dennis Grimes.
“The defendants breached an independent duty to maintain Randall Toler’s safety and wellbeing,” the suit charges. “This resulted in his pain, suffering, fear of death and wrongful death.”
Fugate’s attorney, Dr. Lee Schwalben, of Lake Charles, said Tuesday the suit filed April 18 in the 19th Judicial District Court speaks for itself, and he declined to elaborate for the time being.
An updated Prison Medical Services report presented to the East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council in February stated that medical services at Parish Prison are improving, but the nurses who work there are still in need of more coworkers and more supplies.
Prison Medical Services, which is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit Fugate filed, is a defendant in another wrongful death suit filed in Baton Rouge federal court in November by the family of 72-year-old Paul Cleveland, of Gonzales.
Prison Medical Services, a division of East Baton Rouge Parish Emergency Medical Services, has asked that the suit be dismissed, arguing that Cleveland received plenty of care from medical specialists, nurses, social workers and others. Cleveland died at the prison on Nov. 12, 2014, from what authorities described as severe heart problems.