Fiance of dead inmate to seek $10 million

August 03, 1994|By Bruce Reid | Bruce Reid,Sun Staff Writer

The fiance of a female inmate who died after an asthma attack at the Harford County Detention Center has filed notice that he will seek $10 million damages from the county.

The notice alleges that the jail staff had a "general disregard for the consequences" of the woman's asthma. It says the damages to be sought in a lawsuit are, in part, for the "wrongful death" of the unborn child the woman was carrying. It also lists two children, ages 5 and 11 months, as survivors.

Neicey D. Aldridge, 24, of Aberdeen died July 24 at Fallston General Hospital while she was serving a 90-day term in the Harford Detention Center for probation and traffic violations.

Attorneys Stephen L. Miles and Scott Goldstein, who represent Ms. Aldridge's fiance, Leon A. Boddy, and her children, say Ms. Aldridge was in her first trimester of pregnancy, which was confirmed after she entered the jail.

The notice alleges that Ms. Aldridge, who also was known as Audrena D. Allen, did not receive proper medication and treatment, and that the jail staff "knew she was suffering."

"It's almost manslaughter," Mr. Miles said. "I'm convinced that in my days as a prosecutor, if you gave me these facts, I'd have a manslaughter case."

Mr. Boddy said the jail staff failed to recognize the severity of Ms. Aldridge's asthma, which he said caused her to seek hospital treatment eight times in the last year.

The state medical examiner said last week that Ms. Aldridge died of natural causes resulting from asthma.

Mr. Miles said the notice will be followed by a lawsuit in state or federal court in about a month. The notice was sent to the county Law Department.

Jefferson L. Blomquist, deputy county attorney, said he could not comment on the allegations.

The Law Department has not been involved in the investigation of the death. Mr. Blomquist said he notified county Sheriff Robert E. Comes of the claim yesterday.

Sheriff Comes, who a spokesman said was unavailable for comment yesterday, must decide whether county lawyers or the state attorney general's office will defend his agency in the case. The sheriff operates the Detention Center near Bel Air.

The sheriff and Harford County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann have been at odds for more than a year over the suspicious death of inmate William M. Ford and the county's subsequent payment of $400,000 to settle a threatened civil rights claim by the Ford family.

After Mr. Ford's death, which a grand jury eventually concluded was suicide, Mrs. Rehrmann said the jail was grossly mismanaged.

The new warden, Paul S. Hastmann, said last week that he had no concerns about the adequacy of medical care in the jail.

Dr. Kermit P. Bonovich, the physician who directs medical care at the jail, said last week that Ms. Aldridge had been receiving proper medication and prompt care.

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