Florida Sheriff to Pay $1.15M in Wrongful Death Case

July 10, 2014

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office has paid $1.15 million to the estate of a mentally ill woman who died in her jail cell.

Sheriff Bob Gualtieri told the Tampa Bay Times that 50-year-old Jennifer DeGraw should have never been arrested. She was found unresponsive in her cell in March 2009. She’d been jailed following a psychotic episode.

A federal jury in February recommended damages of $975,000 after finding that former Sheriff Jim Coats in his official capacity was “deliberately indifferent” to DeGraw’s medical needs. Gualtieri says the department considered appealing but decided it could cost even more. The sheriff’s office is self-insured up to $1.5 million.

The award, which was paid days ago, includes the jury award and quiets medical negligence claims pending in state court.

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