ROCKLAND, Maine — A lawsuit that claims two Knox County Jail guards were deliberately indifferent to a man who later attempted suicide and suffered extensive brain damage will be appealed the nation’s highest court.
Peter Marchesi, the attorney for the county, said the petition for certiorari, which asks the court to review the appeal, should be filed Nov. 22.
This is the latest legal move in a case that stems from the Oct. 5, 2009 attempted suicide by Matthew Lalli, who was being held at the Knox County Jail. Lalli was awaiting trial for assault, and also faced a probation violation for drinking.
His mother, Cathy Penn, filed the lawsuit in September 2011, seeking to cover the cost of her son’s medical and institutional care which she said would exceed $9 million.
Penn’s initial suit against the county, filed in federal court in September 2011, was dismissed in September 2013. Penn appealed, and the case has since been awaiting a decision before the First Circuit Court of Appeals.
Knox County reached a partial settlement in the case in April, while it was pending appeal. This leaves the two jail guards, Dane Winslow and Angela Escorsio, as defendants. Winslow was shift supervisor when Lalli was brought in, and Escorsio was a corrections officer on duty the day Lalli tried to kill himself.
A U.S. District Court judge pointed out in an order dated Oct. 15 that the U.S. Supreme Court only agrees to review a small number of cases. Because of that, and because the case has been in the federal court system for more than three years, Judge Nancy Torresen issued a schedule for the case more compact than sought by the county.
Judge Torresen gave parties until Jan. 2 to provide documents on the issue of damages. The case then would be on the April trial list. The county also plans to file a motion to have Lalli examined medically, the judge noted in her order.
Penn alleged in her lawsuit that the county violated her son’s constitutional rights because of its deliberate indifference to his threats that he was going to kill himself.
Court records show that Lalli, who was 22 at the time of the incident, had made numerous threats to kill himself if he could not get out of jail to care for his young daughter.
The assistant jail administrator had directed that Lalli be put in special cell for inmates on suicide watch, but that he was placed in a regular cell and his bedding was not removed.
About a half hour later Lalli found to be hanging by bed sheets strung from a privacy partition in the cell.
Penn is represented by attorneys from Pierce Atwood law firm in Portland.