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Lawsuit Against El Dorado County After Son Denied Prescribed HIV Meds in Jail

Lawsuit Against El Dorado County After Son Denied Prescribed HIV Meds in Jail

El Dorado County, CA: The mother of a dead son filed a federal wrongful death case against El Dorado County after her son died after he was denied prescribed medication for HIV in jail.

The case, filed on Tuesday in a federal court in California, names El Dorado County as well as the jail’s health care provider, Wellpath Community Care, LLC.

His HIV-positive status progressed to AIDS because the medical staff at the California jail denied him lifesaving medication despite having his prescription and being told he needed it to survive, according to the lawsuit.

Nicholas Overfield, 38, was unable to stand or speak and was in a wheelchair when his mother paid him a visit at the El Dorado County Jail on April 22, 2022. He died months later, after being transported from jail to two hospitals and a hospice.

Court records describe the case that began when Overfield was caught in February 2022 and taken to a jail in Northern California, which is about 135 miles northeast of San Francisco. They arrested him because he didn’t show up to court.

People who came to his house to arrest him told the police that he had HIV and would need to take his recommended antiretroviral drugs while he was in jail. According to court records, his mother, Lesley Overfield, gave the drugs to the police, who then took them with them. However, medical records used in court papers say that he never got his medicine while he was in jail for two months.

Court records show that by April 22, 2022, his health had gotten worse. He was so weak that he couldn’t walk, so his mom took him into a visiting room in a wheelchair.

According to the complaint, a jail nurse informed a hospital nurse that he “has not had access to his HIV medications since taken into custody in February,” citing a medical record from April 24, 2022.

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Because of the seriousness of his illness, he was transported from the Lake Tahoe hospital to one in San Francisco for additional treatment.

“Tragically (because this was all preventable), he was placed into hospice care soon after and died on June 21, 2022,” according to records filed with the court.

The death certificate states that the direct cause of death was encephalitis varicella-zoster virus.

“The death certificate indicates that there were two months between the onset of this condition and Nick’s death, meaning that Nick contracted this ultimately deadly condition while he was a pretrial detainee at El Dorado County Jail,” said the lawsuit, which alleges negligence, breach of duty, negligent supervision, management, or control, violation of public policy, and failure to provide constitutionally adequate medical care.

Attorney Ty Clarke said Overfield’s isn’t the only such case in California.

“In California alone there are several other documented incidents of Wellpath failing to provide HIV positive individuals with their prescribed medication while in jail,” Clarke said. “Nick’s blood is on Wellpath’s hands and we should all be furious that Wellpath continues to rake in hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars nationwide while providing levels of medical care that you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy.”

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