Lawsuit Against County First Must Go Before Medical Review Panel
A family suing Natrona County for the death of their son in the jail two years ago must first present its case before the Wyoming Medical Review Panel because it is a medical malpractice issue, according to attorneys for the county and the nurse on duty at the time.
Larry Turner Jr. committed suicide in the Natrona County Detention Center on March 24, 2012 after being arrested for a probation violation.
In the lawsuit filed in April, Turner’s family and the mother of his daughter are seeking $1 million in damages against the county, the sheriff’s office, nurse K.A. Fuller and others for the negligent behavior that lead to his wrong death.
Many of the Turner family allegations hinge on whether Fuller adequately processed him during the inmate intake. They claim Fuller did a poor job of evaluating Turner’s history of alcohol and drug use history, medical history, social stress experiences, criminal history, history of suicidal behavior, behavioral symptoms, signs of severe mental illness, and other matters.
But Hampton O’Neill, attorney for the county and Fuller, responded the Turner family did not follow the proper legal procedures in such a lawsuit over negligence and wrongful death.
“Plaintiffs neither state their claims as medical malpractice claims nor state that they are seeking damages based on the alleged medical malpractice of a health care provider,” O’Neill wrote.
“The MRPA [Wyoming Medical Review Panel Act] provides a specific, mandatory procedure that must be followed regarding medical malpractice claims,” O’Neill wrote.
Natrona County District Court has set a hearing for Oct. 3 to consider dismissing the case and failure to comply with the Wyoming Medical Review Panel Act of 2005.
Turner was 32 and an aspiring rapper in Casper’s rap scene, who had been charged with vehicular homicide, after a car crash that killed a friend of his in October 2011.
He was arrested for violating his probation on March 23, 2012.
Turner was booked into the jail, went through the intake process, was placed in the general inmate population, and 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.