Attorney Donald M. Temple speaks at the announcement of the lawsuit, accompanied by Jonathan Magbie's mother, Mary Scott, left; brother, John Magbie; and sister, Regina Magbie. "No one should have been treated like that," Scott said of her son. (By James M. Thresher -- The Washington Post)
Local Katrina Relief
Mother Sues Over D.C. Inmate's Death
City, Hospital Accused Of Not Giving Proper Care
By Carol D. Leonnig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 21, 2005; Page B08
The mother of a quadriplegic inmate who died after suffering breathing problems at the D.C. jail has filed a lawsuit accusing the District government and Greater Southeast Community Hospital of failing to give him proper care.
Standing on the courthouse steps yesterday, nearly a year after her son Jonathan Magbie died of acute respiratory failure, Mary Scott said she wants justice -- and $50 million in damages -- for what her suit called the repeated failures and "brutal insensitivity" of the city and hospital.
"My baby lost 40 pounds in four days, and they never lifted a finger. No one should have been treated like that," Scott said. "He needed medical attention, and they turned their backs on him."
Magbie, 27, of Mitchellville, was paralyzed from the neck down after being hit by a drunk driver when he was 4. On Sept. 20, 2004, he sat in his mouth-operated wheelchair as D.C. Superior Court Judge Judith E. Retchin sentenced him to 10 days in jail for a misdemeanor charge of possession of marijuana. He was a first-time offender.
Magbie was taken to the D.C. jail, and within hours he was having difficulty breathing. He was moved to the emergency room at Greater Southeast; the hospital released him to the jail the next day. On Sept. 24, he again was taken to the hospital, where he died that day.
I am most pleased to see this family filing a lawsuit. I wish that Judge Judith Retchin, who could have prevented this unspeakable cruelty altogether (had she had more than a black hole for a heart), had somehow been held responsible. Unfortunately, she still sits on the bench waiting to pounce on the next hapless, helpless, quadriplegic, medical marijuana smoker with the unfortunate luck to get rolled into her courtroom on hearing day.
We have to end the drug war.