For the second time during a recent spate of lawsuits against Montgomery County Jail personnel, county attorneys have tried to pin fault on NaphCare, the health care provider that contracts with the jail.
In the lawsuit filed in Dayton’s U.S. District Court involving the 2015 death of Robert Linkous of Huber Heights shortly after his removal from the jail, county attorneys filed a third-party complaint against NaphCare Inc.
“The Montgomery County defendants have demanded that NaphCare defend and indemnify the Montgomery County defendants in this action, under the provisions of the contract, but Naphcare has failed and refused to meet its contractual obligations,” county attorney Joseph Saks wrote in a Jan. 20 filing, citing Article 15 of an included 2011 contract signed with NaphCare.
Linkous’ son, Jayme Laurent, sued Huber Heights police officers Troy Diltz, Scott Short, Matthew Blair and Brian Carr, Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer, the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners and county jail staff alleging that Linkous did not get needed medical attention while in jail.
Huber Heights police have not responded to messages seeking comment on the department and its officers. In its court answer, a lawyer representing Huber Heights denied the substantive allegations.
Attorney Casey Stansbury, who represents Huber Heights, said he had not seen the county’s complaint against NaphCare and couldn’t comment on it; NaphCare has not yet answered the complaint in court: “However, in general, my clients and I trust in the legal system and an ultimate finding of no liability will be coming in the future.”
Linkous, 49, died of heart failure after he was incarcerated for a day in the jail, according to the lawsuit, which claimed his wife called 911 because Linkous needed medical attention. She said he had been suffering withdrawal from alcohol and heroin for three days.
The suit alleged police took Linkous to jail Oct. 6, 2015, on two decade-old probation violation warrants out of Michigan and Clark County.
After a day in the jail, he was being transported to the Clark County Jail by Clark County deputies when they determined Linkous needed immediate medical attention and took him to a hospital, the lawsuit states.
“Upon review of the complaint filed, it is evident that the majority of the allegations involve the City of Huber Heights Police Department allegedly not allowing Robert Linkous to be transported to the hospital via ambulance prior to his arrest by the City of Huber Heights,” wrote Brad Cain, NaphCare’s chief legal officer, in a statement to this news organization.
“Neither NaphCare nor any of its personnel have been named as a party to the lawsuit filed by Mr. Laurent against the City of Huber Heights, Montgomery County and various other individual defendants,” the statement continued.
In a separate lawsuit involving an alleged jail assault against homeless veteran Joseph Guglielmo, county attorneys filed a similar third-party complaint against NaphCare, alleging “deliberate indifference to and callous and/or reckless disregard for the rights and critical medical and mental health needs of plaintiff Joseph Guglielmo.”
U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Sharon Ovington dismissed the third-party action in that case and wrote that no contract was included with it to support contract language and that it unduly complicated the case. NaphCare also denied the allegations in that case.
The county still has options, according to Montgomery County Prosecutor’s office civil division chief Mary Montgomery.
“The dismissal in federal court does not preclude Montgomery County from filing a complaint against NaphCare in state court seeking indemnification, which we anticipate that we would do, should any liability be found,” Montgomery said.
In the Linkous case, Cain also wrote: “Montgomery County has now filed a third-party action against NaphCare and is seeking to bring NaphCare into the case to defend Montgomery County for its alleged wrongdoing.
“NaphCare respectfully disagrees and believes this is a matter between the currently named defendants in the Laurent lawsuit and that it should not be involved. As the third-party case is now in active litigation, NaphCare does not wish to comment further at this time.”
SPECIAL REPORT: Justice in the Jailhouse
In response, a spokesman for the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office issued a statement from Mary Montgomery that said, in part: “We filed a third-party complaint on behalf of the citizens and taxpayers of Montgomery County because the allegations were that adequate medical care was not provided,” Montgomery wrote. “NaphCare should defend the allegations against the Sheriff and Montgomery County and indemnify the Sheriff and Montgomery County against any liability, should there be an award of damages.”
The county has settled four recent lawsuits against the jail for $888,000 and won a jury verdict in another. Other suits are pending.