Inmate’s dying spurs civil rights lawsuit | Information, Sports activities, Jobs

A federal civil law suit filed against two area prisons cited lack of psychiatric care as the main reason for an inmate’s death two years ago.

Michael L. Duffalo was three days after his 38th birthday when he died of suicide on March 10, 2019 in Clearfield County Jail.

The civil rights suit stated that Duffalo, arrested on March 4, 2019, during a domestic incident in Brockway, Jefferson County, was transferred to Clearfield County Jail the next day because of a pending arrest warrant from a Clearfield County Court judge.

According to the lawsuit, the warrant came about because Duffalo failed to appear at a hearing on allegations of theft on charges of misdemeanor.

However, the lawsuit filed by Duffalo’s daughter, Mikayla Duffalo, stated that officials in Jefferson and Clearfield Counties prisons, as well as arrest officers, including the Pennsylvania State Police and the deputies of the Jefferson County Sheriff, were “Intentionally indifferent” to the fact that Michael Duffalo “Obviously suffered from a nervous breakdown; It was obvious that he needed medical treatment. “

The lawsuit found that instead of dealing with Duffalo’s mental state, he was taken to an overcrowded Clearfield County jail, where he slept on the floor under a jail-issued sheet.

The poor living conditions in Clearfield Prison worsened Duffalo’s nervous breakdown. “Became even more obvious.”

Duffalo, who was not in a cell, but because of the “Significant overpopulation” of the prison removed a ceiling tile covering a metal rod and used the sheet he was given to end his life, the lawsuit said.

Duffalo’s daughter, who administers his estate, has filed a lawsuit in the Johnstown District Court, indicting federal civil rights violations and a state lawsuit of unlawful death.

She is represented by Philadelphia attorneys Dylan T. Hastings and Mark B. Frost.

This week, U.S. District Judge Kim R. Gibson referred the lawsuit for review under the court’s alternative dispute settlement program.

The lawsuit focuses not only on Duffalo’s initial arrest during an internal relationship argument in which he held a knife to his head and threatened to kill himself, but also on the fact that he was in no mood when he was transferred to Clearfield received health assessment, suicide screening, or drug test.

The lawsuit alleged that then-overseer Gregory Collins was aware of it “Inadequate policies, procedures, customs and practices related to mental health and drug control in prison.”

The guard was also found to be aware of previous suicides in the prison.

The operations of the Clearfield prison are under the direction of a county prison committee under the direction of President Judge Fredric J. Ammerman.

Clearfield Court Administrator F. Cortex Bell III quoted the presidential judge saying Tuesday that the judge would not be able to handle the case at this point because Clearfield County had not been served.

District Commissioner John Sobel, also a board member, said he was unable to comment on the lawsuit on the advice of the district attorney.

Attorney Heather L. Bozovich is the attorney.

Collins has retired since Duffalo’s death.

He was quoted in news reports that, “I’m going to do something else to make a living. I’ve been doing this for 28 years and it’s exhausting at times. “

A news report in Clearfield Progress on October 16, 2019 – seven months after Duffalo’s death – showed that the prison continued to be filled with an abundance of inmates housed in Jefferson County.

This article cited Collins’s concerns about overcrowding and inadequate training of prison staff.

The lawsuit alleges that Duffalo’s rights to the Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments were violated during his arrest and imprisonment.

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