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Lawsuit claims St Louis County inmate died of survivable leukemia after being denied medical care

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The mother of a man who died of leukemia last year while imprisoned in a St. Louis County jail filed a federal wrongful-death lawsuit last week, according to multiple reports.

Lamar Catchings was found dead in his jail cell in March 2019, the St. Louis Dispatch reported. He had been in custody at the St. Louis County Justice Center since April 2018.

The case, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in St. Louis by Tashonda Troupe, alleges that the county’s corrections officers and jail staff admitted to authorities that they have failed to follow health policies for inmates, according to the outlet. 

NBC News reported that the lawsuit states the jail “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.”

The lawsuit states that an autopsy determined that he died from acute promyelocytic leukemia. It claims that the disease has a survival rate of approximately 90 percent, according to the outlet.  

It is the most curable form of adult leukemia, according to the Leukemia & Lymphoma society.

Catchings was seen by nurses multiple times in February 2019, reportedly asking for help and experiencing symptoms like vomiting and losing his ability to walk, according to NBC News. 

The lawsuit claims that two days before Catchings died, a nurse said, “There is nothing wrong with him. He is a [expletive] faker.” Another jail employee allegedly told him to “grow up.”

The case also alleges that corrections officers did not make Catchings stand for the required “sign of life” check the night of his death, the St. Louis Dispatch reported.

The lawsuit names the county and several jail officials and health staffers. It seeks compensatory and punitive damages, as well as attorneys’ fees.  

Five other St. Louis County Justice Center inmates died while in custody during 2019.

The Hill has reached out to St. Louis County for comment. 

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