Estate of Carrol Co. woman files $25M lawsuit

Published 6:57 pm Wednesday, July 5, 2006

The estate of a Carroll County woman who died in the back of a sheriff’s deputy’s car has filed a $25 million lawsuit against the county and the deputies.

Debbie Loggins’ estate, which is being represented by Alice Loggins Hill, sued in U.S. District Court, saying the victim’s civil rights were denied while she was in the custody of the Carroll County Sheriff’s Department.

Named as defendants in the lawsuit are Sheriff Don Gray, Chief Deputy Michael Spellman and deputies Charles Jones and David Mims.

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The county, the sheriff’s department and the defendants have each denied the allegations in the complaint, which represents one side of a legal argument.

The woman’s estate is seeking $10 million from Carroll County and the sheriff’s department and $10 million from the three deputies in compensatory damages. The estate also is seeking $5 million in punitive damages from all parties.

Loggins, 33, of North Carrollton, had been charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. She was unconscious in September 2005 when she arrived at a private prison in Grenada, authorities said.

Gray had said Loggins’ death was not due to excessive force while she was in the custody of his deputies. He said preliminary autopsy findings indicated that Loggins suffered no serious trauma.

Deputies arrested Loggins, the mother of six, on the morning of Sept. 17, 2005, after responding to a report of two women fighting. Two hours later, Loggins was dead.

The report says there were no signs or evidence of trauma, Gray said, or any other kind of injury that would have caused her death.

At the time, Gray would not give out Loggins’ body temperature at the time of death. A relative of Loggins said she has been told the temperature of the woman’s body was recorded as 106 degrees shortly after death. Normal body temperature is 98.6 degrees.

Gray said Loggins fought and struggled from the time deputies arrived until somewhere near Grenada.

The complaint alleges Spellman had her hands cuffed behind her back and her feet shackled, and that Spellman and Mims “hog-tied” the woman by taking a set of handcuffs and linking the cuffs on her wrists to the ones on her ankles.

Then, the complaint says, Spellman and Mims placed Loggins face-down on the back seat of Mims’ car and took her to the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office, Jones arrived and the three deputies put Loggins in Jones’ patrol car.

When Loggins arrived at the Grenada jail, the complaint says, she didn’t have a pulse.