Federal lawsuit filed over Duchesne jail death

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) Enough is enough says Roosevelt father Jared Jensen. "We've sat patiently for over 9 months waiting for answers and we have not received anything, not even her personal effects."

Last December 1st his 21-year-old daughter Madison Jensen was found dead in her cell in the Duchesne County jail.

LAWSUIT FILED

Thursday Jensen and his attorney Ryan Hancey filed a federal lawsuit against the county that includes the sheriff, the jail commander and a nurse who was supposed to be monitoring the health of the inmates.

The suit claims Duchesne County officials violated Madison's constitutional rights by deliberately showing indifference to her medical needs. 

Hancey says it's simple. "She was not given the basic elements of medical care that were necessary under the circumstances. The County's action resulted in the untimely death of Madison Jensen at age 21."

What were those medical conditions? She was jailed at the end of November on minor drug charges and 4 days later she was dead. 

DEAD FROM DEHYDRATION

The medical examiner's report claims she died of severe dehydration after violent vomiting for days. One report from investigators at the jail indicates she weighed 129 pounds when she was booked and her body weight when she was found dead was 87 pounds. That's an unbelievable four day loss of 42 pounds if their measurements are accurate.

Madison's dad is frustrated claiming a simple medical procedure could have saved her. "You shouldn't have to have people telling you in the medical field that all she needed was I.V. fluid and she'd be alive today."

The lawsuit will allow attorney Hancey to receive all the reports and jail video that officials have refused to give him over the months since Madison died. He will also be able to depose the people involved as he seeks to find what really happened.

"It's been almost a year since Madison's death," says Hancey and "the County has not taken any responsibility for what it did. It hasn't even reached out to the family to apologize for the way this incident was handled."

Jensen can't believe that no one involved has been reprimanded or put on administrative leave. "What happened to my daughter is inexcusable. There should be something done, other steps taken. That's what we want the end result to be with filing this case today."

HOW MUCH IS A LIFE WORTH?

The suit, when it goes to court, will ask for monetary damages to be decided by a jury. "Somebody has to pay for what happened here so that it never happens again," says Hancey. How big should the award be? "If it doesn't sting a bit then what's the incentive to not repeat your actions?"

Her dad says putting a value on a human being is impossible adding "I know what the value of my daughter is. I would give everything I own to have her back, even for one day."

"We just want her life to be remembered. We want the loss of her life to save someone else's life and not let this happen again."

ABC4 reached out to the Duchesne County Sheriff's Office for comment and received this reply.

"The Duchesne County Sheriff's Office has not been served with the Jensen family's federal complaint, so we haven't been able to review the specific allegations. Furthermore, the circumstances surrounding Ms. Jensen's death are still the subject of an independent investigation that is being conducted by the Utah Attorney General's Office. For these reasons, it would be premature for the sheriff's office to comment on the lawsuit at this time."

It will be months before this case goes to trial. 


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