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Bexar County Sued Times Two

Aug 2nd, 2013 | Category: Bexar County
My San Antonio (Express News)

 Bexar County Jail inmates Thomas Reed Taylor, 30, and Antonio Obregon Jr., 32, had little in common before they died while incarcerated in August and February, respectively.

But since both men were found unresponsive in their cells, their families have taken legal action.

Last week, Bexar County Commissioners Court received a notice of claim — the precursor to a lawsuit against a governmental entity — that Obregon’s family is suing over his death, and Taylor’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the county last month.

County Attorney Ed Schweninger was on vacation and unavailable for comment.

According to the Bexar County medical examiner’s office, Obregon, who had been incarcerated since October for aggravated robbery, died of hyponatremia, or low sodium, but the cause of the condition is unknown. His family is seeking $5 million.

“He voiced complaints related to hyponatremia,” the notice states, adding that “Bexar County Jail officials failed to recognize the symptoms and otherwise properly monitor and care for Mr. Obregon in violation of their own policies.”

Relatives of Taylor, who died of a methadone overdose, the medical examiner’s office ruled, have asked for $1 million, according to legal filings. Hours after Taylor turned himself in for failing to appear in court, a guard went to his cell so they could retake his booking photo and found him dead, an autopsy report states. In March, the guard, Ernesto Flores, was terminated after an internal investigation determined he’d falsified records by lying on a log and saying he’d checked on Taylor.

The Bexar County Sheriff’s Office forwarded their case to the Bexar County district attorney, whose office is still gathering medical records.

“It’s still awaiting indictment,” said First Assistant District Attorney Cliff Herberg, “but we anticipate indicting it shortly.”

A probationary officer who had “several minor incidents” and was on duty the night Obregon died was dismissed, a spokesman said. He added that the Obregon death alone wasn’t grounds for the officer’s dismissal but the collection of incidents was.

Attorney Mike Baseluos, representing Obregon’s mother, Edna, was out of town and did not return several calls and emails seeking comment. Edna Obregon, reached at her South Side home, declined to comment on the case, adding that Baseluos had advised her not to discuss it.

An investigative report states that Obregon suffered schizophrenia and had been taking a drug called Risperidone. According to the notice, Obregon had been complaining about headaches, confusion, weakness, nausea, vomiting and muscle spasms before he was found unresponsive in a mental health unit cell on Feb. 2. About 10 minutes before his death, the investigative report states, Obregon told an officer he “couldn’t feel his head,” and then he paced in circles. Then, according to other inmates, he slipped in a puddle on the floor near the shower.

The U.S. National Library of Medicine said that while it has determined there is a link between hyponatremia and schizophrenia, their relationship has not been fully established. A study shows that patients with schizophrenia have a higher incidence of hyponatremia than those who aren’t schizophrenic.


Twitter: @EvaRuth

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