Pearl River, Hancock counties and two sheriffs named in wrongful death civil case

Published 7:53 pm Wednesday, May 7, 2008

A civil suit has been filed against Pearl River County’s jail, sheriff, wardens, Hancock County’s sheriff, Southern Health Partners, both counties through their board of supervisors and a number of other entities and individuals.

The suit is based on the alleged wrongful death of Terrance Wayne Trybulski during his stay at the Pearl River County jail after his arrest in Hancock County. The suit seeks no less than $5 million in compensatory damages and no less than $50 million in punitive or exemplary damages.

The suit lists Pearl River County’s current sheriff, David Allison, but not Joe Stuart, the sheriff who was in office at the time of the incident. Virginia LoCoco, owner and operator of LoCoco, LoCoco P. A. based in D’Iberville said an amendment will be made to include then sheriff Stuart. LoCoco said she will be representing the plaintiff in the case.

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Allison said he hopes that he will be absolved of any involvement in the case since he was not a public official at that time of Trybulski’s death.

The civil action documents were filed on April 24 and presented to the defendants earlier this week. Since the case is still in the early stages, LoCoco said there has been no response from the defendants nor have any settlement discussions taken place.

She said that the family had informed her that on a number of occasions they had attempted to bring Trybulski his medicine, but it was refused by jail personnel. The family was informed that the jail could only accept money for the medication, so they attempted to bring money. Still Trybulski did not receive his medication, LoCoco said.

“It’s the fact that he might not have gotten in that bad of shape in the first place if he had gotten medication,” LoCoco said.

Allison said Tuesday afternoon that he received the civil action documents Monday and passed them on to the county administrator who will pass them on to the board’s attorney.

The suit states that on May 3, 2007 Trybulski died due to failure to administer proper medical care when it appeared necessary. On that day Trybulski allegedly had a blood pressure of 245/130. Trybulski allegedly was given three kinds of medication and sent back to his cell. The suit states that when such medication is administered, the patient is to be reassessed within an hour to note positive or negative effects. According to the suit, that reassessment did not take place. Trybulski died at about 6:22 a.m. that morning.

According to the suit, during the time of Trybulski’s incarceration he was “routinely systematically and intentionally and/or negligently deprived of both his heart and thyroid medications.” His lack of medication during his time at the jail caused Trybulski to gain 50 pounds, possibly putting further stress on Trybulski’s heart, the suit states. The autopsy report cited in the suit states that Trybulski had no trace of medications or illegal narcotics in his blood stream.

Currently medical staff at the jail are county employees. At the time of Trybulski’s death Southern Health Partners was contracted to provide medical care to the inmates, but have since quit proving health care despite the firm’s contract. Allison said now there is a registered nurse, licensed practical nurse and a nurse practitioner on call 24 hours a day seven days a week. He said he is looking in to ways to improve the health care at the jail.

Hancock County Board of Supervisors Attorney Ronnie Artigues said that his office received a copy of the suit on Monday and they are looking into defending it. At this time he said he did not have enough information to make a comment on the matter.

Hancock County Sheriff Steve Garber, nor Pearl River County’s attorney returned phone calls Tuesday afternoon concerning the suit.