A $2 million settlement has been reached in a wrongful death lawsuit brought against Mineral County Sheriff Randy Adams and the sheriff’s office over the death of a Texas woman in Hawthorne’s jail nearly two years ago.
The settlement will be paid by the county and its insurers
Kelly Coltrain, 27, was detoxing at the jail after her arrest for unpaid tickets during a traffic stop by Walker River Tribal Police in July of 2017. Coltrain was drug dependent, and died from complications of withdrawals on her third night in the facility. She was found dead in her cell where she had been for nearly six hours without being checked on, despite a requirement that she be checked every 30 minutes.
In surveillance video released, it shows a deputy finding her unresponsive and nudging her without calling paramedics.
Upon being booked, Coltrain informed staff that she was dependent of drugs and had a history of seizures when she withdraws. She asked to go to a hospital at one point, but was instead handed a mop by the jail sergeant and told to clean up her vomit in the cell. Records show she died about an hour later after suffering a seizure at 12:30 a.m. on July 23, 2017.
The Washoe County Medical Examiner would rule the young woman’s death as “accidental, caused by complications of drug use.” Toxicology showed that she was positive for heroin in her system.
Her family filed a wrongful death lawsuit a year later.
The family’s lawyers issued a written statement to the Reno Gazette-Journal after the settlement was reached.
“With the nationwide opioid crisis, it was unconscionable that the Mineral County Jail had no policy requiring medical attention for inmates going through withdrawal,” they said. “With Kelly’s history of seizures, she was covered by a policy that deputies actively ignored. If they had taken her to the hospital as they were required to do when they learned she had a history of seizures, she would have seen a doctor, been medically treated, and be alive today.”
The Nevada Division of Investigation said the sheriff’s office didn’t follow proper procedures and violated several policies when they investigated the death. Criminal charges were recommended by the investigator on the case after finding that the Mineral County Sheriff’s Office may have violated state laws, but Lyon County District Attorney Steven Rye, who handled the case, declined to prosecute anyone involved.
The jail will now be monitored by a federal judge for the next four years to ensure inmates receive proper medical care when in custody, including having inmates with a history of seizures and drug withdrawals cleared by the local hospital before being detained.
Adams declined to comment to the Independent-News after the settlement was reached, but Mineral County District Attorney Sean Rowe released the following statement:
“Mineral County and its officials continue to express our sympathies to the family of Kelly Coltrain. Following Kelly’s tragic death, the county began an extensive review of its existing inmate policies, ultimately retaining a nationally-recognized firm to audit those practices and provide further expertise. All sheriff’s office personnel have received training through the Legal and Liability Risk Management Institute with specific instruction on opiate and controlled-substance withdrawal. The settlement with the Coltrain family includes a two-million dollar payment from the county and its insurers. Additionally, the county’s jail practices and training will be subject to the oversight of the the Federal Court. Mineral County Sheriff Randy Adams says that he “[…] welcomes this oversight. My department is committed to ensuring that its personnel are properly trained and are able to recognize the symptoms of drug withdrawal and understand the medical dangers associated with it.”