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$103 million PRJ suit set for September

A four-day jury trial is slated to begin Sept. 14 for the $103 million lawsuit filed by the mother of Jason Patrick Sisson, a Piedmont Regional Jail (PRJ) inmate who died Aug. 22, 2017, only days after being beaten by another PRJ inmate.

Meanwhile, a court ruled March 20 to deny a motion to dismiss filed by a correctional officer involved in the lawsuit.

Jason Patrick Sisson

The lawsuit, filed in August of last year, seeks $103 million in damages from defendants including Piedmont Regional Jail Authority (PRJA), various jail and medical staff and Mediko Inc., PRJ’s health provider at the time of Sisson’s death.

The federal complaint filed by the plaintiff alleges the defendants caused Sisson’s wrongful death through “common law negligence, gross negligence, and/or willful and wanton negligence.”

Sisson was convicted in January 2017 of possessing a Schedule I/ II controlled substance and was sentenced to confinement for a term of 10 years with all but nine months suspended.

After Sisson was assaulted by another inmate on Aug. 12, 2017, he was transported to Centra Southside Community Hospital (CSCH) where he was diagnosed with a basilar skull fracture with intracranial injury. He was later transferred to the Medical College of Virginia (MCV) for more acute trauma care.

Sisson was discharged from MCV on Aug. 18, 2017, with a diagnosis that included bilateral temporal bone fractures. He was placed in a single cell and, among other requirements, was to be maintained on a 15-minute watch until approved by medical authorities to return to the general population.

Security film from Aug. 20 documents Sisson’s dramatic decline in health over a period of several hours before going into respiratory arrest at the jail. He was taken by ambulance back to CSCH and was then flown to MCV, where he suffered cardiac arrest and later died.

Defendant Amy Baker was demoted from sergeant to officer at PRJ following Sisson’s death after reportedly not instructing others to perform regular security checks in the jail and allegedly signing off on falsified housing check sheets. Baker filed Nov. 7 of last year for a motion to dismiss claims alleged against her.

The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia found the plaintiff sufficiently stated claims against the officer for both wrongful death and deliberate indifference and denied Baker’s motion for dismissal.

Mark Dix, an attorney for Commonwealth Law Group PLLC, who is representing the plaintiff in the Sisson case, said the lawsuit is currently in its discovery stage including depositions, document exchanges, etc. He said the Sept. 14 trial will occur at the federal court in Richmond.