A federal lawsuit filed Monday in Texarkana seeks damages on behalf of the family of a man who died in the Bowie County in 2019.
Franklin Brooks Greathouse was arrested March 10, 2019, by Texarkana, Texas, police on a forgery warrant issued in Miller County. He was booked into the jail at approximately 9:45 p.m., according to a suit filed on behalf of his daughter and estate by Texarkana attorney David Carter in the Texarkana Division of the Eastern District of Texas.
The suit names LaSalle, Bowie County, City of Texarkana, Texas, Warden James McCormick, Nursing Supervisor Michelle Arnold, LVN Tiffany Hill, Correctional Office Alton Portley and unnamed jail staff as defendants.
At approximately 11 a.m. the day after his arrest, Greathouse complained to staff that he’d had a seizure. According to the complaint, Licensed Vocational Nurse Tiffany Hill did not take Greathouse’s complaint seriously and performed no medical assessment. Greathouse was found dead on the floor of his cell by another inmate that evening.
According to the complaint a “seizure disorder of unknown etiology” contributed to his death.
According to the complaint, Portley falsified jail records to show he had completed checks of Greathouse’s cell every 60 minutes as required by state law. An inspection by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards compared the paper records to video surveillance and found that officers were filling out logs before their shifts began and were not actually completing the checks as required.
“What happened to Franklin Brooks Greathouse was not an isolated incident. He is just one of approximately 12 detainees who have died at the jail since LaSalle became operator of the jail in February 2013. For years LaSalle has been neglecting and abusing detainees, disregarding their fundamental constitutional rights, and engaging in other cruel and inhumane acts and practices,” the complaint states. “This case goes to the very heart of everything that’s wrong with the privatization of America’s county jails.”
The lawsuit notes other cases of inmates dying in the jail after asking for medical assistance which they were not given.
Michael Sabbie died in the jail in 2015 after complaining of shortness of breath. He was pepper sprayed by an officer and additional officers piled on top of him as he repeated, “I can’t breathe.” Sabbie was in the jail on a misdemeanor charge.
Sabbie35, was left alone in his cell. He was found dead the following morning. A lawsuit in that case settled.
Morgan Angerbauer, 20, died in the jail in 2016. She was recorded on video surveillance banging on the door of her cell for hours the night before she was found unresponsive in her cell. Licensed Vocational Nurse Brittany Johnson was sentenced to six months in the Miller County jail for misdemeanor negligent homicide.
A lawsuit is currently pending in the case of Holly Barlow-Austin. Barlow-Austin was serving time after a misdemeanor probation was revoked. She was HIV positive and needed medications for her immune system. While in the jail, she developed meningitis which led to blindness.
“Footage from teh medical observation cell recorded Austin’s last 45 hours in the jail, during which she is obviously blind, unable to find food or drink, and suffering from severe headaches,” the complaint states.
Austin died in a local hospital.
William Scott Jones is currently suing over permanent disabilities he incurred during an alleged beating in the jail in 2018. Jones was taken to a hospital from the jail by an ambulance called by a member of his family. Jones was hospitalized for nearly a month, according to the lawsuit.
The complaint points also to the recent death of an inmate from COVID-19. The inmate had been held in the jail via a contract with the Arkansas Department of Corrections since 2016. ADC rescinded its contract with Bowie County to house inmates afer determining it did not meet guidelines for dealing with the virus as established by health authorities.
The complaint seeks damages for Greathouse’s family for the loss of their family member. Damages for Greathouse’s pain and suffering and burial expenses, punitive damages, court costs and attorney fees are also being sought.
LaSalle Corrections decided late last year to pull out of Bowie County when its contract expires in February. At that time the Bowie County Sheriff’s Office will assume management of the facilities.
The Greathouse case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Robert Schroeder III in the Eastern District of Texas.