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Family Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Milwaukee County Jail

May 22, 2018 |

Attorney Patrick Dunphy is representing the family of a man whose death at the Milwaukee County Jail could have been prevented, according to the lawsuit.

Michael Madden, a 29-year-old man, died while at the jail on October 28, 2016 due to an infected and inflamed heart. According to the lawsuit, he told staff that he was an IV drug user and had a heart defect when he first entered the jail a month before. These factors put him at high risk of “infective endocarditis”, and the lawsuit states that he showed obvious signs of this condition during his detention, but he never got the treatment he needed.

Gail Stockton, his Madden’s mother, filed the lawsuit and named former Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr., correctional officer Brian Piasecki, Acting Sheriff Richard Schmidt, Armor Correctional Health Services nurse practitioner Mercy Mahaga, Armor Correctional Health Services, and Milwaukee County as defendants.

The lawsuit states that this condition can be effectively treated when diagnosed early with surgery to remove damaged heart valves or antibiotics.

“If treatment is delayed, however, the condition will ultimately result in organ failure and death,” the lawsuit stated.

Madden was arrested during a traffic stop where he appeared to be coming down from a heroin high. He was taken to the county Mental Health Complex before he was cleared to be transported to the jail. Madden reported his addiction to heroin during his entrance screening, and said that he had been using the drug for the past year and last injected himself with the drug that morning. He also let nurses at the jail know about his congenital heart defect.

According to the lawsuit, the jail stopped monitoring him for opiate withdrawals less than 10 days later, and he rapidly started showing signs of infective endocarditis like a low-grade fever, chest pain, low blood pressure, and a high heart rate. Just a few hours before Madden died, he said that he could not breathe, and was ordered to stand or sit up straight, and was dragged to the medical unit where he was allowed to fall twice, hitting his head on the concrete floor and on a wall.

Madden was one of four people to die in the Milwaukee County Jail in 2016.

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