The estate of a man who died at the Carter County jail after not receiving insulin has reached a $3.2 million settlement with local officials after previously missing documents turned up at a funeral home during the trial.
Jeanne Bennett agreed to the settlement Thursday, halting a trial that began Tuesday in Muskogee federal court, according to her attorney, Dan Smolen.
Bennett sued Carter County officials after her son, Michael Manos, died in the jail, located in Ardmore, in 2015.
“No amount of money could replace Ms. Bennett’s only son, and her best friend, Michael,” Smolen said in a written statement. “But continuing to go through the trial process, and hearing testimony every day about the unfathomable suffering her son endured in his last days at the Carter County Jail, would have been extremely difficult.
“In light of all the circumstances, Ms. Bennett felt that settlement was appropriate.”
Carter County officials said in a statement that the settlement was “absolutely in the best interest” of county taxpayers and that measures have since been taken to prevent future detainee deaths at the jail.
Manos, 44, died after Carter County jailers found his unresponsive, feces-covered body in a medical unit cell on Nov. 7, 2015, according to court records. He was taken by ambulance to an Ardmore hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly after arrival, records show.
Manos, from the Oklahoma City area, had been serving a four-month sentence for assault and battery at the Carter County jail since Oct. 22, 2015, records show.
Four days before his death, jail workers called for an ambulance when he was found to be eating his own feces and smearing it on his cell walls.
Jailers told EMTs at the time that Manos had not eaten or taken insulin for five days and was “acting crazy,” records show.
But after EMTs determined that Manos’ blood sugar was normal, Carter County officials decided that he “was faking his craziness and decided not to transport” him to a hospital, according to court records.
Smolen said the case took a turn when jail medication logs that had been previously deemed missing were discovered this week in a storage unit at a local funeral home, where the Carter County Sheriff’s Office apparently had stored them.
The missing records disputed claims by jail officials regarding the administration of Manos’ diabetes medication, Smolen said.
Rather than Manos’ rejecting his insulin, as claimed by jail officials, the newly unearthed medication logs indicated that jail personnel never offered it to him, Smolen said.
Manos had provided the jail with medication for his diabetes, high blood pressure, bipolar disorder and other illnesses, records show. Smolen said the jail did not keep its own supply of medications. The jail did not have a licensed physician on staff but did have a registered nurse, who did not regularly review medication logs, according to court records.
Carter County officials released the following statement after the settlement was announced:
“On the third day of trial, based upon the advice of our attorney Ambre Gooch and a representative of the Association of County Commissioners of Oklahoma, a settlement agreement was reached by the parties to resolve the matter without submitting it to a jury. Based upon this advice and detrimental evidence which surfaced after the trial began, we are convinced this outcome was absolutely in the best interest of the taxpayers of Carter County.
“It should be known that this case arose from inadequacies in the operation of the Carter County Jail during the tenure of former duly elected Sheriff Milton Anthony, and in no way shape or form pertains to the current sheriff or his administration. In fact, the current sheriff (Chris Bryant) has implemented several remedial measures designed to ensure that in the future, the medical needs of inmates will be adequately addressed and tragic deaths, such as the one in this case, will be avoided.”
Smolen said that through the lawsuit, Bennett was able to find answers to her questions about how her son died.
“Through this settlement, she feels some measure of justice and closure,” Smolen stated. “Now, she can go on with the rest of her life, resolute that she fought hard for Michael when he could no longer fight for himself.”
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