$1.9M settlement in Gregg County jail inmate death suit
POSTED: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 - 7:30pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 - 2:52pm
Longview, TX (Longview News-Journal) — A federal judge gave his approval Monday to a $1.9 million settlement between Gregg County and the family of a woman who died in jail custody in 2010.
Amy Lynn Cowling’s mother and three children claimed the 33-year-old died because of a jail policy that prevented her from taking prescriptions doctors ordered for her bipolar disorder and ongoing recovery from opiate addiction.
“It is a tragic situation, and we believe that the children were fairly compensated and that, hopefully, Gregg County will change their policies regarding medications and prescriptions,” attorney Jimmy Negem, who represented Cowling’s children, said after U.S. Judge Rodney Gilstrap approved the settlement that was reached days before a Jan. 22 trial date. “And the children got probably 80 percent of the recovery ... for a college education, for automobiles and to help them with a home later on.”
Cowling’s children, ages 14, 17 and 19, are awarded $1.15 million in the settlement. Her mother, Vicki Bankhead and the three siblings were awarded $750,000 for Cowling’s pain and suffering during her fatal jail stay, which Bankhead shares with the children.
Minus attorney fees and expenses, that split is $200,000 for the children to divide three ways and $207,000 for Bankhead. The children’s larger award, which was specific to their wrongful death claim, nets out to $718,750.
Gilstrap also OK’d most of the children’s award being placed in annuities that pay out over time — 95 percent of the award to the younger two children and 85 percent for the eldest with the remainder for college.
The court also will hold $25,000 for each of the younger children to buy cars, and $5,000 was set aside to pay for therapy for the two younger siblings, according to the order.
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