The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the dismissal of a wrongful death suit filed against Washington County's Purgatory Jail by the surviving family members of a Toquerville man who died while in the jail's custody in 2003.
In a 33-page ruling issued Thursday, the Denver-based circuit court agreed with the ruling of U.S. District Judge Paul Cassell, who dismissed the suit in November 2006. He ruled there was not enough evidence to find the jail's staff negligent in not providing adequate medical care for Raymond Boyett, a recovering alcoholic who suffered from hepatitis C and other medical problems.
"We agree with the district court's decisions, concluding the Boyett family has failed to demonstrate a genuine issue of material fact about whether defendants were deliberately indifferent to Boyett's serious medical needs, inflicted excessive force, or otherwise violated his federal rights," the ruling states.
Attorneys for the Boyett family claim there were indications that Boyett was denied medical attention for injuries that appear to have been voluntarily inflicted. In addition to liver disease, Boyett also suffered from anxiety and depression. He was found dead in his cell on Sept. 9, 2003, having been kept in jail more than a week on a DUI arrest warrant. An autopsy reported he died of heart failure.
At the time, Boyett also was recovering from hernia surgery and was taking medication for withdrawal symptoms from alcoholism.While family members said there was evidence of head trauma and lacerations that would indicate foul play, Cassell ruled there was not sufficient evidence to convince a jury of foul play and that jail staff were entitled to governmental immunity.