Forsyth County Pays $180,000 in Wrongful-Death Suit Involving Inmate

The Forsyth County Board of Commissioners approved on Thursday paying $180,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging that an inmate died in 2013 as a result of neglect by county jail officials.

But civil litigation against Correct Care Solutions, a for-profit company that provides medical care at the jail under a contract with the county, is still moving forward.

County commissioners voted for a resolution approving the settlement in which the county does not admit wrongdoing or liability.

The settlement stems from a lawsuit that Diane Emmert Nixon filed July 31, 2015, in Forsyth Superior Court on behalf of the estate of her husband, Dino Vann Nixon, who died Aug. 5, 2013. The lawsuit named a number of defendants, including Correct Care Solutions; Forsyth County; Sheriff Bill Schatzman; Robert Slater, the jail’s bureau commander; and others.

County Manager Dudley Watts declined to comment about the settlement. He said commissioners met in closed session Dec. 7, about the lawsuit, where county officials presented information on a possible resolution. Commissioners have met in closed session a number of times over the past two years in regard to the lawsuit.

W. Ellis Boyle, an attorney for Nixon, declined to comment Thursday. He confirmed that the settlement does not include Correct Care Solutions.

Nixon’s lawsuit is one of two against Forsyth County and Correct Care that arose out of a jail death. The second involves the death of Jennifer Eileen McCormack Schuler, who died Sept. 18, 2014, at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. The lawsuit, which is pending, alleges that Schuler, an inmate at the jail for 17 days, was neglected by Correct Care Solutions personnel and other defendants.

Since Correct Care Solutions, based in Nashville, Tenn., started providing medical care at the Forsyth County jail in 2012, five people have died there.

For 2016-17, the county is paying Correct Care Solutions $4.2 million to provide medical care for the jail.

The new three-year contract is estimated to be $13.2 million, including $11.6 million for fixed on-site health services and $1.5 million for third-party administration costs for local health care provider claims.

In May, two inmates at the jail died — Deshawn Lamont Coley and Stephen Antwan Patterson.

Coley, 39, died May 2. An autopsy report released in August concluded that he died as a result of complications from asthma.

Coley had a history of asthma, and the autopsy report said Coley’s airways had mucous plugs and other characteristics indicating “exacerbation of asthma.”

Patterson, 40, died May 26.

Patterson’s uncle, Frederick Patterson Jr., has said that nephew told detention officers he had high blood pressure and asked the officers if he could see a doctor at the infirmary. He also asked for blood pressure medicine.

The jail deaths sparked protests and scrutiny of Correct Care Solutions.

Coley was serving six months after being convicted of driving while impaired.

Patterson was in the jail after turning himself in on three counts of failure to appear in court and failure to pay child support.

The State Bureau of Investigation and the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office are reviewing the deaths.

The SBI turned over its report on Coley to the Forsyth County District Attorney’s Office. Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O’Neill has not announced whether any criminal charges would be filed in Coley’s case.

Patterson’s autopsy report has not yet been made public.

Diane Nixon’s lawsuit alleged that jail officials refused to provide Dino Vann Nixon medication, including Xanax, that he had taken years before his arrest on July 11, 2013.

The lawsuit alleged that jail officials failed to pay attention to Nixon’s medical condition and that they mistakenly believed that Nixon was suffering from alcohol withdrawal symptoms, even though Nixon had no history of alcohol abuse.

Defendants, including Correct Care Solutions, denied the allegations in Diane Nixon’s lawsuit.