Linn County Jail Settles Wrongful Death Case

According to a Marion County Sheriff’s report, at around 11:00 p.m., on November 16, 2014, Linn County Jail inmate Ashley Chambers overheard a female deputy telling an inmate to “quit faking it, I’ve heard it all before,” and “don’t make me come back in here.”   Another inmate, Katrina Gray, also heard a female deputy tell the inmate to “stop faking it” or she would tear apart her cell.  The inmate’s name was Samantha Robinson.  Four hours later, Robinson would die from bacterial pneumonia while lying on the floor of her cell.  The only treatment Robinson received during her 8-day stay at the Linn County Jail was Ibuprofen, Tylenol, and several recommendations to rest and drink fluids. 

Following the death of Samantha Robinson at the Linn County jail in 2014, Linn County Sheriff Bruce Riley dismissed any wrongdoing on the part of the jail.


“We absolutely take inmates to Urgent Care to be seen by doctors.  If someone needs help, we get them help,” Riley said to the Albany Democrat Herald shortly after Robinson’s death. 

During Robinson’s stay at the jail in 2014, however, she didn’t get the help or medical care she needed.  Now, more than two years after Samantha’s death, the Linn County Jail has finally made amends by settling the families’ wrongful death claim for $650,000.

According to Linn County Jail’s own records, Robinson’s physical condition drastically deteriorated over her 8-day stay at the jail that eventually culminated with her death.  Jail staff heard numerous medical complaints from Samantha throughout the week.  The jail staff also saw and documented the fatal progress of the infection through stages causing nausea, vomiting, fevers, blackened stools, coughing up blood, inability to walk, confusion, lack of appetite, severe dehydration, and several systolic blood pressure readings at a morbidly low levels.

“The jail staff dismissed numerous complaints from Samantha and a cascade of medical symptoms pointing to her illness and imminent death,” said Dan Rayfield, the family’s attorney with law firm Nelson MacNeil Rayfield.  “All the signs were there, someone just needed to take them seriously.”

The family has been given assurances from the jail that, procedurally, things have changed to prevent future incidents like this one.  Despite this positive step, however, the family still worries that the culture among the jail staff has not changed.

“The culture needs to shift if we want to prevent further deaths, they threatened to tear my mom’s cell apart hours before she died because they said she was faking it,” said Kelly Chorlton, Samantha’s daughter.  “You can’t fake a deadly low blood pressure, it can’t be done.”

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