In recent news, a family decided to pursue a wrongful death claim for losing their loved one under custody, creating a shroud of mystery surrounding his death.
Let’s explore the details of the news with Ehline Law and our Riverside County personal injury attorneys.
On August 11, 2022, Richard Matus Jr died at Detention Center in Riverside County while in the custody of Riverside County jail officials for attempted murder.
After a month of seeking answers, the family decided to file a wrongful death claim against the County, alleging record-breaking deaths under the Riverside County jail officials.
Christian Contreras, the attorney representing the grieving family, spoke to the media before filing the lawsuit and stated that those awaiting trial should not “mysteriously” die in prison.
Chad Bianco, Riverside county jail Sheriff, spoke about the incident, ruling Richard Matus Jr cause of death as fentanyl overdose. He stated that Riverside County would not settle the case and would fight it.
Bianco added that Matus chose to do drugs under custody, and the jailers could not revive him. According to the sheriff, 13 prisoners died in Riverside county jails in the current year, five fentanyl-related deaths, three medical complications, two suicides, a homicide, and two currently under investigation.
The five fentanyl-related deaths reported broke all previous records for Riverside County jails.
Bianco shed light on the authorities taking all possible measures to ensure that the prisoners are safe from harm. However, drugs, especially fentanyl, circulate in the prison system as inmates smuggle them for recreational purposes.
According to the sheriff, on average, nine inmates succumb to drug overdose annually; this year, the deaths went above average. It’s not just the Riverside County jail experiencing inmate deaths, as San Bernardino County officials reported 16 dead inmates in 2022.
Law enforcement authorities are using different methods to tackle the drug overdose problem in United States county jails. It includes creating awareness of fentanyl use and asking inmates to sign waivers.
What’s concerning is that even after all these efforts, the inmates continue to smuggle drugs into the prison system, resulting in fentanyl overdoses.
The incident “Family of man who died in riverside county jail files wrongful death claim” is tragic as people under custody should not die mysteriously.
Jail abuse and deaths are not uncommon in prison but what many do not realize is that the County is responsible for an inmate’s health and safety.
Failure to ensure a high standard of care to prevent the inmate’s death can result in liability. An attorney can help investigate the issue to determine the cause of death and provide legal options to the deceased’s family accordingly.
If the cause of death of your loved one is a fentanyl overdose, you may not have a valid lawsuit. Smuggling and using drugs in prison is illegal, and Deaths related to fentanyl overdose do not have grounds in court.
A man died from fentanyl overdose after purchasing the drug from the pharmacy, leading to his family suing the pharmacist for his death. However, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court stopped the case as the man obtained the drugs illegally, meaning he died from his illegal actions.
Under the California statute of limitations, loved ones have two years to pursue a wrongful death claim against the responsible party. However, if the responsible party is a government agency, the plaintiff has six months to file a lawsuit.
If you lost a loved one at the hands of a government agency due to no fault of their own, contact us at (833) LETS-SUE for a free consultation, as you may qualify for compensation.
Michael is a managing partner at the nationwide Ehline Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC. He’s an inactive Marine and became a lawyer in the California State Bar Law Office Study Program, later receiving his J.D. from UWLA School of Law. Michael has won some of the world’s largest motorcycle accident settlements.