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Arrestee to receive $12 million settlement over alleged jail neglect

By: Laura Brown//October 23, 2023//

Terrance Dwayne Winborn appeared at a press conference where his attorneys discussed a multi-million dollar settlement with a Minnesota county on Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2023, in Minneapolis. Winborn was booked into the Scott County jail in August of 2020 on suspicion of drunken driving but ended up losing both his arms, suffering a heart attack, skin lesions all over his body and other serious medical conditions, allegedly due to the indifference and inaction of jail staff. (AP Photo/Mark Vancleave)

Arrestee to receive $12 million settlement over alleged jail neglect

By: Laura Brown//October 23, 2023//

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The $12.2 million settlement Scott County will pay to an arrestee who lost limbs as a result of alleged neglect by jail staff should send “a big message” to law enforcement, says Katie Bennett, a Robins Kaplan partner.

Bennett represented Terrance Winborn, who nearly died of a bacterial infection.

Winborn was booked on DWI charges following a traffic stop in Shakopee on Aug. 27, 2020. He was placed at the Scott County Jail, at which point his condition began to severely deteriorate. Things became dire for Winborn during a period lasting over a day and a half. Finally, Winborn was transported to a hospital.  By then, Winborn had septic shock and gangrene and suffered a heart attack. Ultimately, Winborn’s arms required amputation.

“His injuries were horrific,” said Bennett. “Unfortunately, a lot of times we see people die when they get this bad. He didn’t, and that just brings on a whole host of other things that he has to deal with and that we had to consider to try and make his life better through this case and easier for him.”

“It certainly lights a fire under you and under everyone in the team when we see things like this happen and we think that we can help,” Bennett added.

Robins Kaplan brought a lawsuit alleging that Winborn’s constitutional rights were violated due to deliberate indifference of a registered nurse employed by the jail. The nurse did not heed the obvious warning signs of Winborn’s deteriorating condition, deciding not to get Winborn the critical medical care he needed. Additionally, the Scott County Jail did not report the matter to the Minnesota Department of Corrections within 10 days as required by law.

Bennett reports that the county jail has had such problems noted by the Minnesota Department of Corrections dating back to at least 2017. “Their noncompliance with that vital duty was a symptom of a systemic problem regarding the safety and care of the inmate population and this affected Mr. Winborn tremendously,” said Bennett.

Though the specific facts of Winborn’s case are especially tragic, Bennett reported that the firm has seen a pattern of cases like Winborn’s. “We’ve seen things like this,” Bennett said. “It really comes down to nurses who care and correctional officers who will do their job and work together to try and make sure that the constitutional rights of inmates and patients are met. What we are seeing is that this is not happening in every instance.”

The hefty settlement, Bennett hopes, will bring attention to these life-threatening occurrences with inmates. “I think it sends a big message,” Bennett asserted. “If you don’t have good care and good correctional officers, you’re going to pay for it. The message has been sent with this case.”

Prior to the settlement, Winborn’s attorneys had argued a spoilation motion, asking for one of two severe sanctions: default judgment on liability or a mandatory negative inference. The motion was argued on Sept. 13.

Their first sanction would have been default judgment on liability, meaning only a trial on damages could proceed. The second sanction was a mandatory adverse inference regarding the deleted evidence.

“We sought sanctions for the deletion of video, and we were seeking some of the harshest sanctions,” Bennett explained. “One of those would have basically been that the jury would be instructed that the video would have been as bad as you possibly could imagine.”

“It’s kind of a weird situation here because there was some evidence that was actually recorded, but not that much evidence,” Bennett said. “Even that scant recording that we did have in this case painted a pretty dire picture of Mr. Winborn’s time there. I think that the video would have shown the details of how he got to the state that he was in on day two just prior to the decision to get him to the hospital, finally.”

“I think it would have been somewhat easy for them to imagine how bad he must have looked during the hours in between when they actually had visited him or had written down the descriptions of him,” Bennett emphasized.

The firm says that it is the largest settlement of its kind in Minnesota’s history. Robins Kaplan did research on single claimants who brought Eighth and 14th Amendment constitutional violations alleged against a jail, and found this dollar amount is the highest in Minnesota.

“To destroy the best evidence of the abhorrent conduct demonstrates the need for the asked-for sanctions and the size of this settlement,” averred Bennett in a press release.

“Scott County and its insurer the Minnesota Counties Intergovernmental Trust (MCIT) have agreed to pay $12.2 million to Mr. Winborn in exchange for a dismissal of his lawsuit and a release of the claims against the County and its employees,” stated Jason Hiveley, partner at Iverson Reuvers, who represented Scott County as outside counsel. “The County and MCIT are hopeful the resolution of this matter will help provide Mr. Winborn with the medical care and quality of life assistance he needs.”

“He’s a great guy,” Bennett said. “Getting to know him through this case, he says he’s part of the family, but he wishes that he didn’t have to meet us.”



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