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Old 05-16-2003, 07:31 PM
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Default inmate dies--suit filed

Suit blames inmate's death on prison care



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Lawyers for Bonita Clark Murphy have subpoenaed a Michigan State Police investigation into Jeffrey Clark's death at a prison in Ionia County. The state Attorney General's office wants a U.S. District Court judge to quash the subpoena, saying it would jeopardize the police investigation. The judge will hear the motion May 14.

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By Robyn Rosenthal
Lansing State Journal

The wife of state Rep. Michael Murphy has hired Geoffrey Fieger's law firm to sue Michigan Department of Corrections officials in connection with her brother's death last summer.

Bonita Clark Murphy contends that Jeffrey Clark's civil rights were violated because prison workers did not give him access to water or medical attention, causing his death from dehydration July 3 at Bellamy Creek Correctional Facility.

Her lawsuit, filed March 3 in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids, seeks more than $75,000 in compensatory and punitive damages.

If Clark Murphy prevails, she said she'll use any award to help with prisoners' rights.

"It is very stressful on our family to think about the horrible way he died," said Clark Murphy, 42. "He basically was tormented."

Corrections spokesman Leo Lalonde declined comment on the lawsuit, citing department rules on ongoing litigation.

Kevin Himebaugh, who will represent the defendants for the state Attorney General's office, also declined comment.

Named in the suit are Warden Kenneth McKee, Deputy Warden Lee Gillman, Sgt. Eric Cobb and Lt. Shirley Whitiker. Clark Murphy's lawyers have subpoenaed the Michigan State Police investigation into Clark's death.

Margaret Nelson of the Attorney General's office has filed a motion to quash the subpoena, arguing it would jeopardize the police's ongoing investigation, according to court records.

A U.S. District Court judge will hear the motion May 14.

Clark Murphy's attorney, Paul Broschay of Fieger, Fieger, Kenney and Johnson in Southfield, did not return a call for comment.

Clark Murphy, the oldest of seven children and personal representative of her brother's estate, said Clark was a paranoid schizophrenic serving nine to 30 years for an armed robbery in Flint.

Clark, 39, was found dead early July 4 after spending five days in confinement following a seizure in the prison's food line, Clark Murphy said.

An autopsy showed Clark had been dead for several hours before he was found by corrections officers, Clark Murphy said. Because Clark was in confinement, prison rules required authorities to check on him every half-hour, she said.

While in confinement, Clark was forced to endure temperatures exceeding 100 degrees without access to water, the suit states. It also says Clark was taking medications that further dehydrated him.

According to the suit, Clark did not receive medical help although he exhibited dizziness, weakness, malaise, fatigue, vomiting, and flushed or red skin.

"They played God and it basically cost him his life," Clark Murphy said.

Clark was convicted of robbing a liquor store with a beer bottle in 1987. He was sentenced to 30 to 50 years in prison, but later was resentenced to nine to 30 years.

Clark had been denied parole but was making progress, and the family was hopeful he might be released when he went before the parole board again in November, Clark Murphy said.

Contact Robyn Rosenthal at 377-1052 or rrosenthal@lsj.com.


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Old 05-16-2003, 07:57 PM
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I hate CMS. They contracted with the state. Basicially, what happened was the state said it cost us x amount for health care last year and CMS came in and said we can beat that and make a profit. Not that Wexford was much better. I was at the hearings and so were some of the MDOC nurses. We tried to stop it but it didn't work. I have seen way to much and being a certified state health care worker it makes me sick. I constantly have to battle them. My husband is only alive today because of me screaming and threatening to sue them into a coma.
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Old 05-17-2003, 02:43 PM
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I don't even know what to say to this....
It makes me sick to hear of our loved ones not being taken care of. I mean, I know it goes on all the time, in all prisons... but god willing, the prison will be held responsible for their neglect!
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