The mother of a Cocke County woman who died after spending two days in the Cocke County Jail alleges sheriff's personnel failed to treat her diabetes, let her slip into unconsciousness and then tried to cover up what they'd done.
Myra Burgin's lawsuit against Cocke County, Sheriff Armando Fontes and others was filed Sept. 28 in U.S. District Court in Greeneville by Knoxville attorney Lance Baker.
It seeks unspecified damages in a trial to be held before an East Tennessee jury.
Amanda L. Hill, 32, was jailed Sept. 26, 2016, on a probation violation warrant.
She was recovering from a recent attack in which a former boyfriend had assaulted her, setting her on fire after spraying her with rubbing alcohol, according to the lawsuit, which included photos of her wounds. Because of her condition she shouldn't have been jailed, the lawsuit states.
Hill also was a Type-1 diabetic who needed insulin to remain stable.
Burgin's lawsuit alleges jail workers failed to properly care for Hill. They dismissed her as a drug addict, the lawsuit states. Hill did indeed have a "drug problem," according to the document.
As her health failed, a nurse gave her a shot of a sedative. She died hours later on Sept. 28, 2016, Burgin alleges.
Hill cried for help but got none, according to the lawsuit. She was found unresponsive, couldn't be revived and ended up at an area hospital, where she was pronounced dead, the lawsuit states.
According to Burgin, Fontes warned personnel not to talk about what had happened and jail workers tried to conceal the inmate's lack of treatment.
"Here but for the inadequate medical training, Ms. Hill would not have died or suffered other deprivations," the lawsuit states.
At the time Hill was taken to the jail, it had failed state inspections and lacked official certification from the Tennessee Corrections Institute, which sets minimum standards for jail operation and educates local correctional staff.
The review found in part that substandard officer performance reflected the fact that Cocke County had "minimal staff available" to perform required jail services and operations.
Fontes has complained publicly in the past about inadequate funding to operate the jail, one of his prime responsibilities as sheriff.