DeKalb County Judge Dismisses Wrongful Death Suit Against Sheriff Regarding Detainee’s Drug Overdose Death Based Upon Tort Immunity Act

April 4, 2018

Judge William P. Brady in DeKalb County dismissed with prejudice the wrongful death and survival action brought by the Estate of Brandon Washington, regarding the overdose death of Brandon Washington in February 2016. In Sophia Thomas v. Sheriff Roger Scott, et al., Case No. 2017 L 8 (DeKalb Co. Cir. Ct. March 26, 2018), Judge Brady ruled that the Sheriff’s Office and the County were immune from suit for failing to prevent the illegal acts of others bringing illegal drugs into the facility under Section 4-102 of the Illinois Local Governmental and Local Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act (“the Act”), and that the Sheriff’s Office and the County were immune from suit for failing to adequately supervise the inmates, or the facility generally under Section 4-103 of the Act. Judge Bradley Waller had previously dismissed an earlier version of the suit on the same grounds. The lawsuit alleged that employees of the DeKalb County Jail failed to adequately detect the illegal smuggling of illegal drugs into the Jail, whereby Mr. Washington came into contact with the drugs, ingested them, and later died as a result of an overdose. The Court found that the Jail was immune for failure to prevent the crime by an unknown person of illegally smuggling drugs into the Jail, and that the Jail was immune from failing to recognize that drugs had been brought into the facility and preventing Mr. Washington’s possession or ingestion of the same. The Court found that the immunities afforded by the Act were absolute and extended to Plaintiff’s claims for both negligence and willful and wanton misconduct. The Sheriff’s Office and the County were therefore immune under Sections 4-102 and 4-103 of the Act, respectively. The Sheriff and the County were represented by Mike Bersani and Tony Fioretti.

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