Miss. court upholds dismissal of state lawsuit

Published 1:55 am Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Mississippi Supreme Court has upheld the dismissal of a state wrongful death lawsuit filed against Carroll County in 2006 by the estate of a woman who died in the back of a sheriff’s deputy’s squad car.

A Carroll County judge threw out the lawsuit in 2008 on grounds the family of Debbie Loggins had filed the same complaint in federal court and therefore they were barred from filing a second lawsuit on the same issues. The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the lawsuit’s dismissal.

The Loggins family’s federal lawsuit was dismissed in 2008 by a federal judge in Aberdeen. The family appealed to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which hear arguments in February but has not decided the case.

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The Mississippi federal judge ruled Loggins’ death did not result from force used by three deputies when they arrested her Sept. 17, 2005. A federal lawsuit against the deputies was dismissed in 2006.

Carroll County attorneys had argued that Loggins’ death had nothing to do with the actions of the deputies.

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

Deputies had arrested Loggins after responding to a report of two women fighting. Two hours later, Loggins was dead.

Authorities said an autopsy showed no evidence of trauma.

Loggins’ family contended the victim’s civil rights were denied while she was in the custody of the sheriff’s deputies. Authorities contended that Loggins fought and struggled from the time deputies arrived until somewhere near Grenada.

The family alleged a deputy had Loggins’ hands cuffed behind her back and her feet shackled, and that the officers “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 said, the deputies placed Loggins face-down on the back seat of the deputy’s car and took her to the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office, where Loggins was transferred to another patrol car.

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