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Minnesota pays $400,000 to settle inmate lawsuit

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota Department of Corrections has agreed to pay $400,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by the family of a mentally ill inmate who died at the state prison in Rush City.

Prison medical records show Xavius Scullark-Johnson, 27, died in 2010 after being left alone in a cell while suffering a series of seizures. He suffered from schizophrenia and a seizure disorder.

Corrections records indicate that Scullark-Johnson was left on the floor of his cell overnight. A senior nurse, who was suspended for five days for violating nursing protocol for dealing with seizures, examined him before ending her shift. An ambulance was ordered when he continued to have seizures the next morning, but a nurse who had just come on duty turned it away. The ambulance returned when he had another seizure, but it was too late.

The court settlement and end of the lawsuit “allow both parties to find closure to a complex case that could have gone unresolved for years,” Corrections Commissioner Tom Roy said in a statement. “We take our charge to incarcerate offenders in a safe and secure manner very seriously, so the premature loss of life of offenders in our care and control always causes us great concern.”

The Star Tribune ( ) reported Wednesday that the family is still pursuing a neglect lawsuit against Corizon Inc., the company hired by the state to provide medical care to its 9,400 prisoners.

The $400,000 settlement in this case is a record. The previous record settlement was $275,000, in the case of an inmate who was burned and suffered skin damage due to medication errors.

Scullark-Johnson is one of nine Minnesota prisoners who died between 2000 and 2012 after medical care was denied or delayed, the Star Tribune found in a 2012 investigation. He was in custody on a probation violation following a conviction for second-degree assault.


Information from: Star Tribune,