Haddad & Sherwin LLP Reaches $12.75 Million Settlement for Death of Shasta County Jail Inmate Under the Care of Wellpath

OAKLAND, Calif., Aug. 24, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Civil rights law firm Haddad & Sherwin LLP announced today that it has reached the largest settlement ever against Wellpath, a national for-profit correctional healthcare company. Haddad & Sherwin LLP reached a $12.75 million settlement for Katherine Johnson. She is the sister of Randall Johnson, who died in the Shasta County Jail in 2018. Wellpath and one of its employees agreed to pay $11.1 million toward the settlement, only five days before trial against the company and its employees was set to begin. Shasta County, California, and the City of Redding earlier paid $1,650,000.

On August 14, 2018, Randall Johnson, a 56-year-old painter with a disabling work-related injury, attempted to commit suicide by overdosing on methamphetamine. Randall’s friend called 911 to seek emergency medical attention for him. Redding police officers found Randall Johnson half-naked in his driveway, incoherent, with an elevated heart rate, and covered in his own feces. Randall told the officers he was not a regular methamphetamine user, but that he had used $100 of methamphetamine, partially by injecting it into his system, partially by ingesting it anally in an attempt to commit suicide. Officers sent away ambulance personnel who were called to assist Randall, deciding instead to arrest him for public intoxication and take him to the Shasta County Jail.

At the jail, Randall and the arresting officer told the intake deputy and Wellpath receiving nurse Amanda Ream, R.N., the details about Randall’s attempts to overdose on methamphetamine. Jail videos show that Randall was speaking incoherently, screaming in pain, and vomiting. He still had elevated vital signs. Nurse Ream falsified Randall’s medical intake form, checking boxes for “no” in response to important medical questions she never asked. Despite the obvious need for emergency medical attention, Nurse Ream and jail staff admitted Randall into the jail rather than allow him to go to a hospital.

In addition, Wellpath often provided Licensed Vocational Nurses (L.V.N.’s) to work Registered Nurse shifts, outside their legal scope of practice. The Wellpath L.V.N.’s were not legally qualified to clear Randall Johnson to stay in the jail, but did so anyway.

Over the next 36 hours, Randall’s condition deteriorated. With the deliberate indifference of jail staff, several Wellpath nurses and L.V.N.s, and a social worker, Randall’s attempted suicide by overdose was allowed to succeed, in slow-motion, right before their eyes. Had any of the Defendants sent Randall Johnson to a hospital at any point before his death, he would have survived.

This lawsuit was brought by Randall’s sister, Katherine Johnson.

Katherine Johnson says, “My brother Randy was my best friend. He was always there for me, and our bond never changed from when we were tiny children to our last conversation. He was the light in my life and always had the right thing to say. When he died, something in me died too. Jail workers and medical staff have to understand that the people they see in jail are not disposable, and they have someone who loves them. I can’t imagine what my brother went through, and can’t believe they just let him die on the floor. Would you want your family treated that way? He should have been in a hospital.”

Ms. Johnson’s lawyer, Julia Sherwin, says, “Wellpath has shown time after time that it puts profits over people and money over medical care. Wellpath provided the Shasta County Jail with inadequate staffing, and assigned Licensed Vocational Nurses to work as Registered Nurses, which is against the law. And, even when one of their nurses committed medical fraud and falsified Randall’s medical chart, they kept her working at the jail. Their practices have deadly consequences. If Wellpath and its employees had done their jobs and followed the law, Randall Johnson would still be alive.”

To interview attorneys Michael Haddad or Julia Sherwin of Haddad & Sherwin LLP, please call or email them as listed below.

ABOUT HADDAD & SHERWIN LLP. Founded in 1998 by Michael Haddad and Julia Sherwin, Haddad & Sherwin LLP is an Oakland law firm representing people in serious civil rights, police and jail misconduct, and wrongful death cases. For more information, visit https://haddadandsherwin.com/.


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