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Mississippi County to pay $2.75 million for death of diabetic inmate

LUCEDALE, miss — A Mississippi county has agreed to a $2.75 million settlement in a federal lawsuit for the wrongful death of an insulin-dependent inmate being held in the county jail.

William Joel Dixon, 28, died in his jail cell at the George County Regional Correctional Facility on September 24, 2014, after seven days without insulin. Former George County Jail nurse Carmon Sue Brannan, 58, is serving a 15-year manslaughter sentence for Dixon’s death.

“Put simply, this case arose out of a senseless and tragic combination of a lack of basic human compassion and policies that prevented those who wanted to help Joel from being able to help him,” said Garner Wetzel, one lawyers representing the detainee. domain.

Dixon died while the prison had insulin on hand to treat him. His mother delivered a batch of insulin to the jail, and a George County jailer picked up another batch from the glove compartment of Dixon’s car when he was arrested on September 17, 2014. , Dixon repeatedly sought help as his condition deteriorated; Brannan ignored those calls, attributing his symptoms to methamphetamine withdrawal.

The wrongful death lawsuit was filed on behalf of Dixon’s estate; his mother, Donna Dixon; and his children against George County, Brannan and the town of Lucedale. A judge later dismissed Lucedale as a defendant.

The settlement represents more than half of the county’s overall budget of $4.3 million, the Sun Herald reported. George County supervisors passed the resolution Monday accepting the settlement amount. The county insurance company paid more than $500,000 in attorneys’ fees and agreed to pay $250,000 of the overall settlement amount.

U.S. District Judge Sul Ozerden ordered the county to pay $1 million within 14 days of the May 31 judgment in federal court in Gulfport. The balance of $1.75 million is due within 90 days of the settlement date, Ozerden’s order said.

The ruling also calls on George County officials to write a letter of apology to Dixon’s family.

“The Dixon family has endured eight harrowing years of criminal and civil litigation and a baseless claim against Joel’s mother for defamation,” Wetzel said. “Throughout the Dixon family have behaved with dignity despite their loss and have stood together with Joel’s children.”

Wetzel said the county’s agreement “closes a chapter in this sad ordeal.”

The Dixon family expressed gratitude for the public’s interest in the case, but asked for confidentiality “so that Joel’s children are allowed to move on with their lives like any other young person.”

The family also thanked their team of attorneys and former District Attorney Tony Lawrence and Assistant District Attorney Cherie Wade for their successful prosecution of the criminal case against Brannan.

Wetzel said the family hopes the judgment will motivate state authorities to ensure detainees receive proper medical care.

“Their fervent hope is that the tragedy of Joel’s death will lead to meaningful change to avoid this avoidable and unnecessary loss of life,” he said.

ABC News

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