Pittsburgh wrongful death lawsuit filed after inmate kills woman

If a family believes that another party’s negligence caused the death of their loved one, the surviving family members may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against those parties. One family recently filed such a lawsuit in Pittsburgh after a woman living near the Armstrong County Jail was killed. Authorities have charged an escapee and inmate-trustee for the death, but the family believes that Armstrong County and the jail’s outgoing warden were also responsible. The family is seeking compensatory and punitive damages.

The incident occurred when the inmate escaped while awaiting a food tray delivery. He was being monitored by a guard who allegedly kept nodding off. The inmate proceeded to walk to the woman’s home, where he beat and strangled her. The woman lived with her boyfriend, who was an acquaintance of the inmate.

The lawsuit alleges that the county and the warden did not do a competent job with security, screening and training at the facility. The woman’s children believe that the lax facility allowed the inmate, a drug addict going through severe withdrawal, to become a loosely monitored trustee, giving him access to the outside world. There were multiple problems with the facility that they allege allowed the inmate to escape while on unsupervised work detail and commit the murder. After he escaped, there was no warning siren to alert nearby residents and no alert to 911.

The warden was suspended without pay shortly after the inmate’s escape, and has announced his resignation. The inmate is facing criminal charges and is scheduled for trial. The family’s attorney believes that the woman’s death could have been avoided if the jail had taken the necessary precautions to protect people in the community. If successful, the family will receive damages that will help them move forward from their tragedy.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “Armstrong County Jail sued by adult children of woman killed by escapee,” Jonathan D. Silver, Nov. 4, 2015