Judge Dismisses Part Of Lawsuit Against County Over Larry Turner Jr.’s Suicide In Jail
A judge agreed with Natrona County's motion to dismiss part of a family's lawsuit seeking $1 million in damages after their son Larry Turner Jr. committed suicide in the jail in 2012.
Natrona County District Court Judge Daniel Forgey issued his ruling Wednesday during a conference call with the attorneys for the county and Turner's family.
Forgey agreed the Turner family did not follow the legal procedures to present their malpractice allegations against the jail nurse Karen Fuller..
In April, Turner’s family and the mother of his daughter filed the lawsuit against the county, the sheriff’s office, Fuller and others. One part of the lawsuit alleges the county violated his constitutional rights, and the other part alleges negligence by the county.
Many of the negligence allegations hinge on whether Fuller adequately processed him during the inmate intake. The family's lawsuit alleges Fuller did a poor job of evaluating Turner’s history of alcohol and drug use, medical history, social stress experiences, criminal history, history of suicidal behavior, behavioral symptoms, signs of severe mental illness, and other matters.
During a hearing about the motion in early October, the Turner family’s attorney, Tim Kingston of Cheyenne, said the allegations concern the jail’s systemic failures to follow its own policies and procedures for admitting an inmate.
It doesn’t matter whether Fuller was a nurse or a peace officer, Kingston said. “This negligence lead to his death.”
But Hampton O’Neill, who was hired to represent the county, said Fuller's position as a nurse means she is a health care provider.
Any legal action against a health care provider must start by bringing the matter before the Wyoming Medical Review Panel Act, O'Neill said.
Forgey agreed, and dismissed this part of the lawsuit. However, the family's allegation that the county violated Larry Turner Jr.'s civil rights still stands.The lawsuit has its roots in October 2011 when Turner was charged with vehicular homicide after a car crash that killed a friend.
On March 24, 2012, he was arrested for violating probation, was booked into the jail, went through the intake process, and was placed in the general inmate population. He was last seen at 8:07 p.m. that night.
No jail officials saw him until the following afternoon. By then, he had written a suicide note on the table in his cell and was found dead from a drug overdose, according to court records.