CLEVELAND (WJW) — The death of a 32-year-old man while he was incarcerated at the Cuyahoga County jail last November was caused by a “toxic combination” of medications administered by the jail’s medical providers, according to a new federal lawsuit.
On Nov. 1, 2022, county jail workers found 32-year-old Mark Turner “unresponsive” in his cell, FOX 8 News previously reported. Responders about 20 minutes later transported him to MetroHealth Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
Attorneys for Turner’s estate this week filed a wrongful death complaint against MetroHealth and Dr. Joseph Baskin, the jail’s medical director and a MetroHealth employee alleged to have prescribed the medications to Turner at the jail.
The lawsuit claims Turner’s autopsy and toxicology report show the man’s death was caused by “acute intoxication” of chlordiazepoxide, buprenorphine, dicyclomine and doxepin — medications known to have “life-threatening side effects” when combined.
“Defendants prescribed and administered to Mark Turner a combination of drugs that individually and in combination carry known risks of serious adverse effects, including depression of the central nervous system and respiratory depression that can cause death,” the complaint reads.
The complaint alleges Turner’s physicians should have known about the potentially lethal side effects and that they also failed to monitor him for signs of adverse reactions after giving him the medications.
The lawsuit brings three claims, alleging medical negligence and wrongful death and that the hospital system acted with “deliberate indifference” to Turner’s needs — a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment guaranteeing due process.
It seeks an unspecified amount in punitive damages as well as compensation to cover Turner’s funeral and burial costs as well as court and attorney fees, and to repay Turner’s estate for his physical and mental pain and Turner’s loved ones “for their mental anguish and grief,” it reads. Turner’s next-of-kin includes two sisters, a brother and a cousin, according to the complaint.
A MetroHealth spokesperson on Thursday issued a statement to FOX 8 News that read: “MetroHealth will respond to these allegations in filings with the court shortly. We take all concerns seriously, and are committed to providing the highest quality and safest level of care across all our settings, including at the Jail.”
A spokesperson for Cuyahoga County Executive Chris Ronayne declined to comment, since the case is in active litigation.
The case has been assigned to Ohio Northern District Federal Court Judge Bridget Brennan. No future court dates have been set.