Civil Rights Lawsuit Filed Over Inmate’s Dying at Clearfield Co. Jail –

JOHNSTOWN – A federal civil law suit has been filed against Clearfield and Jefferson County’s prisons alleging that poor mental health treatment resulted in the death of an inmate as early as March 2019.

The lawsuit was filed over events during and after the arrest of Michael J. Duffalo, 38, of Brockway on March 4, 2019 in Jefferson County.

During a domestic disturbance at his Seventh Avenue apartment, Duffalo reportedly held a knife to his head and threatened to harm himself, leading to an emergency call.

He was still “incoherent” and “upset” when police officers arrived at the scene, and according to the lawsuit, he was immediately berated, arrested and taken to Jefferson County Jail.

The lawsuit alleges that Duffalo did not receive any mental health, suicide or drug tests while he was “apparently” suffering from a breakdown and needed immediate medical attention.

The next day, March 5, 2019, Duffalo was taken to Clearfield County Jail on a pending arrest warrant issued for failing to appear in court for misdemeanor theft.

According to the lawsuit, the arrests of Pennsylvania State Police officers, the Jefferson County’s deputy sheriff, and Clearfield and Jefferson Counties prison officers were deliberately “indifferent” to Duffalo’s mental health.

The lawsuit alleges that because his mental health was not addressed, Duffalo was ultimately locked up in an overcrowded Clearfield County prison with no clothes or bedding.

According to the lawsuit, these poor living conditions resulted in further deterioration in the inmate’s mental health, which would have been “even more apparent” to law enforcement officials.

Duffalo was reportedly placed in a common room for overcrowding in the prison when he removed a ceiling tile and used his sheet to commit suicide on March 10, 2019.

According to the lawsuit, former warden Greg Collins was aware of the inadequate policies, procedures, customs and practices related to mental health, suicide prevention and drug control in the prison.

It is also alleged that Collins was aware of several inmate suicides before and after Duffalo’s death. Collins retired in March 2020 after serving in prison for over two decades.

Duffalo’s daughter filed the lawsuit in the US District Court in the western district of Pennsylvania, Johnstown.

Specifically, the lawsuit states that Duffalo’s rights to the Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the US Constitution were violated in the course of his arrest and detention.

Clearfield County Commissioner Chairman John Sobel, who also serves on the county Prison Board, was unable to speak due to “pending litigation” and “on the recommendation” of District Attorney Heather Bozovich.

Despite being filed on March 10, Sobel found that the county still has not received the physical copy of the complaint.

Duffalo’s daughter and administrator of his estate, Mikayla Duffalo, is represented by Mark B. Frost and Dylan T. Hasting of Mark B. Frost & Associates, Philadelphia.

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