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Allegheny County is paying a $950,000 settlement to the children of an inmate who died in the Allegheny County Jail less than 48 hours after he arrived, according to the man’s attorney. County officials agreed to pay the settlement Friday, said George Kontos, the attorney representing the children of Frank Smart Jr., who died in 2015 at age 39. The case was set to go to trial Monday morning.
Smart was arrested the evening of Jan. 3, 2015, on charges of forgery, theft, marijuana possession and conspiracy, according to a criminal complaint. The next morning, at about 11 a.m., he told jail officials during a medical screening that he needed to take medication twice a day to prevent seizures. Since a medical cart had already made its rounds, he did not receive his medication until that evening, 24 hours after he arrived at the jail.
That night, Smart suffered a seizure. “Mr. Smart died because he was deprived his anti-seizure medication, and when he had a resulting seizure, the officers that responded to the medical emergency held him face down with his hands cuffed behind his back and legs shackled for approximately thirty minutes until he stopped breathing,” U.S. Magistrate Judge Cynthia Reed Eddy wrote in a report in July 2017.
He was taken to a hospital, where he died just after midnight Jan. 5, Eddy’s report said.
The Allegheny County Medical Examiner report said Smart died as a result of a seizure disorder and that physical restraint in a prone position contributed to his death, Eddy’s report said.
Kontos said the settlement will provide some support for Smart’s nine children, who all live in Pittsburgh. The youngest is 5. “He was a devoted father, he was involved in all his children’s lives, he supported them both financially and emotionally,” Kontos said. “He was there in terms of helping them do their homework, attending their sporting events, it was a very big loss in their lives.”
The Smart children also received a settlement from Corizon, the private medical services provider that the jail used at the time, but the amount is confidential, Kontos said.
“Although the agreement has not yet been finalized, the county has reached a settlement agreement with the Smart family which we believe to be in the best interests of the taxpayers,” County Solicitor Andrew Szefi said in a statement. “We will be seeking reimbursement from Corizon in the very near future.”
Allegheny County took over medical services at the jail in 2015.