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Family of woman who died in jail sues county

By Ed Brock

The mother of a Suwanee woman who died while she was an inmate at Clayton County jail in January has filed a lawsuit against the county.

Carol Kimbell, who is also the executrix of her daughter Kassandra Leigh Kimbell's estate, filed four actions. Two are in Clayton County State Court and two are in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia in Atlanta, late last month, Kimbell's attorney Phillip Casto said.

Casto said the two actions in state court are essentially medical malpractice suits related to 38-year-old Kassandra Kimbell's death from an apparent "tubal pregnancy" while she was serving 30 days in the jail for a probation violation. The two federal actions claim the county violated Kimbell's civil rights.

They are suing on the basis of pain and suffering up to the point of Kimbell's death, Casto said, and for the value of her life, or what she could have earned during her life, to benefit her 7-year-old son. The amount could be in the millions, Casto said, because Kassandra Kimbell was a college graduate, holding a degree from the University of Georgia.

"She was not some typical inmate," Casto said.

Sheriff Stanley Tuggle and Clayton County Commission Chairman Crandle Bray both said they would have no direct comment on the lawsuit itself but said they had just received copies of it on Tuesday and the county's attorney is reviewing it.

Tuggle also said that his department performed an internal investigation of the incident at the time it occurred.

"We'll be reviewing (the investigation) along with the lawsuit and we'll make a determination after that on what to do," Tuggle said.

Kimbell was found unconscious in the jail's infirmary around 8 a.m. Jan. 30, the morning after she had complained of being light-headed and passed out in her cell.

"She had been moved to the infirmary during the night," Tuggle said previously. "They were assessing her situation."

There were three nurses on duty with the woman while she was in the infirmary, Tuggle said, and by 6:15 a.m. she was conscious and talking, was not complaining of any pain and had not passed any blood.

However, she would probably have been moved to a hospital by 10 a.m. that morning anyway, Tuggle said.

The infirmary staff discovered that the woman was unconscious when they began their rounds that morning and attempted to resuscitate her unsuccessfully.

Tuggle said the woman also suffered from diabetes and said an initial examination by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation's medical examiner's office showed that the tubular pregnancy, which was about seven to eight weeks along, led to her death.

The lawsuit alleges that Kimbell "suffered hours of excruciating and unnecessary pain," and that she was obviously weak and pale during the evening of Jan. 29 but the jail staff failed to notice and did not send her to the infirmary after she requested to go there. At one point Kimbell lost control of her bladder and urinated on the floor of the cell, at which point a guard ordered her to mop up the mess and while Kimbell attempted to do so she passed out.

After that she was taken to the infirmary and was found dead the next day.

Tuggle said that the county contracts with the company Georgia Correctional Health for its medical service.