·  Legal News, Analysis, & Commentary

Lawsuits & Litigation

St. Louis County Jail Sued After Inmate Dies from Treatable Leukemia

— December 21, 2020

A St. Louis Country jail recently came under fire in a lawsuit after a young inmate was left to die alone from treatable leukemia.

A 20-year-old inmate passed away from survivable leukemia last year in a St. Louis Country jail after allegedly “pleading for help from staffers who failed to let him see a doctor.” The civil rights suit was filed against the county and several jail staffers by Tashonda Troupe. Troupe is the mother of the deceased inmate, Lamar Catchings.

Lady Justice; image by Tingey Injury Law Firm, via
Lady Justice; image by Tingey Injury Law Firm, via

The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court’s Eastern District of Missouri and argues that after “Catchings was jailed on April 17, 2018, his health deteriorated, and he died Feb. 28, 2019.” An autopsy later determined he perished from a type of leukemia that usually has a survivability rate of 90 percent with proper treatment. In fact, the complaint cites Yale University oncologist Steven Gore on the mortality of acute promyelocytic leukemia, believed to have killed Catchings. Gore said, “death from the disease was unconscionable and should never happen.”

The suit further claims the health system at the county jail is in shambles, so much so that it lacks “proper medical supervision by registered nurses and doctors.” The suit further states:

“Defendant St. Louis County was well-aware of the serious and obvious deficiencies with respect to its jail policies and training of jail staff, including policies and training regarding the provision of health services and medical care to its detainees.”

When commenting on her son’s death at an August 2019 vigil, Troupe said her son has a treatable illness. All he had to do was “get the medical care that they asked for,” and he’d be alive today with his family. What happened, though?

According to the suit, Catchings was seen by nurses “three times for several minutes after asking for help in February 2019.” At the time, he was “vomiting and losing his ability to walk… that two days before his death, one nurse said, ‘There is nothing wrong with him. He is a [expletive] faker,’” the suit states. On top of that, another jail staffer allegedly told Catchings to ‘grow up,’ even as his health continued to deteriorate.

The suit further argues Buzz Westfall Justice Center staffers “acknowledged he was ill because they gave him Tylenol, took food to him and carried him or wheeled him around in a wheelchair.” Tragically, though, he was left alone without proper care to die alone in his cell. When he was eventually found the day after he died, his body was already showing signs of rigor mortise. The suit states:

“Mr. Catchings ultimately died alone in his cell and from a condition that the St. Louis County Medical Examiner would later report to have been completely diagnosable through a routine blood panel administered by the jail.”


Inmate died of leukemia after pleading for help, federal lawsuit claims

After pleading for help to claim federal lawsuit, the prisoner died

Join the conversation!