POLK COUNTY, Mo. — A woman is suing Polk County, the sheriff’s office and others claiming wrongful death and medical negligence after her son died at the Polk County Jail in August 2020.
According to court documents, 32-year-old Nathan Casey was arrested and booked into the Polk County Jail on July 28, 2020, to serve a 30-day sentence for domestic assault.
The lawsuit states that Casey informed staff of a life-long asthma condition and required observation and medication. On July 30, he told a jail nurse that he couldn’t breathe and complained that it was hot at night and he had trouble breathing.
The lawsuit alleges that the Polk County jail had mold and other toxic airborne substances.
On Aug. 19, 2020, around 8:20 p.m., Casey was outside for a recreation period with other inmates when an asthma attack began. The lawsuit states that video shows Casey attempting to get jail staff’s attention by banging on a door and he was ignored for several minutes.
Two jail personnel opened the door and provided Casey with an inhaler on or around 9:14 p.m. The lawsuit states they only allowed Casey two breaths of the inhaler, then took the inhaler away with one of them saying “he just wants to get high on it.”
Casey collapsed on the floor and exhibited “obvious signs of difficulty breathing, unconsciousness, a shift in his face shade to a blue-purple hue, and agonal respirations.” The lawsuit also alleges that a deputy who was trained in CPR life-saving measures also did not act.
At 9:30 p.m., EMS arrived at the scene and found Casey unresponsive, according to the lawsuit. Upon arrival at University Hospital, Casey went into cardiac arrest due to a respiratory disorder.
Casey was then transferred from University Hospital to a better-resourced hospital. On Aug. 28, 2020, Casey was declared brain-dead due to brain swelling and injury.
The autopsy revealed that Casey’s death was due to bronchial asthma, according to the lawsuit.
“Defendants intentionally, willfully, maliciously, and while acting under the color of state law, showed a deliberate indifference to Mr. Casey’s medical needs, in that they had actual knowledge of his poor health, obvious to a layperson, and did not provide appropriate medical treatment or allow him contact with anyone who could provide proper and/or adequate medical treatment,” according to the lawsuit.
Casey’s mother is seeking damages in an unspecified amount.
KOLR 10 reached out to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and is awaiting comment.