MOUNT CLEMENS (WWJ/AP) – Macomb County is seeking to dismiss a lawsuit that says a man sent to a Detroit-area jail for a driving offense died after 16 days after suffering serious withdrawals from drug use.
The lawsuit accuses Macomb County officials and jail employees of failing to respond to David Stojcevski’s “excruciating pain and misery” linked to drug withdrawal.
County attorney John Schapka says he’s confident the county will win the case, which is pending in federal court. He declined further comment. A judge will consider a request to dismiss the lawsuit on Oct. 14.
Attorney Robert Ihrie says Stojcevski died in June 2014 after serving 16 days of a 30-day sentence for failing to appear on a careless driving charge. He lost 50 pounds during that time, and video shows him hallucinating in his cell and shaking with seizures.
“This is shameful, substantial and unconscionable neglect,” said Robert Ihrie, senior partner at the firm handling a lawsuit against Macomb County on behalf of David Stojcevski’s family.
Stojcevski died of benzodiazepine withdrawal, the attorney said, brought on by lack of his prescribed methadone treatment.
His family is seeking a “substantial amount” from Macomb County in a wrongful death suit.
Stojcevski’s parents were immigrants from Serbia and Macedonia, who were in the baking business. His family did not visit him in the days he was in jail, but had “made a decision like so many parents do that they were exercising some tough love,” Ihrie said.
Stojcevski was in a medical unit, under constant video surveillance, when he died.
“Like an animal, he’s crawling underneath something to die,” said addiction expert Diane Rockwell, as she watched video of a trembling Stojcevski, emaciated and alone, in his cell. WDIV broke the story with the video. WATCH THE VIDEO HERE, but note that it is disturbing.
The lawsuit names Wickersham, 16 deputies, Correct Care Solutions, which provides prison healthcare, and several mental health workers as those the Stojcevski family holds responsible for the man’s death.
The lawsuit says Stojcevski was on Xanax, and other medications including a daily dose of 60 mg of methadone, which is generally used for recovering heroin addicts. The medication was listed on his intake forms, the suit says.
“He had a potential for withdrawal,” the suit says.
He was moved between a jail cell and a mental health unit several times, including a time on June 17 when it was noted he was hallucinating and talking to himself.
On June 21, the suit says, Stojcevski asked if his medication was forthcoming and was told “medication has not been ordered at this time.”
“All of the named defendants herein were so deliberately indifferent to David’s mental health and medical needs that the defendants, named and unnamed in this litigation, monitored, watched and observed David spend the final 10 days of his life suffering excruciating benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms,” the suit says.
Benzodiazepine withdrawal, according to wikipedia, is marked by “sleep disturbance, irritability, increased tension and anxiety, panic attacks, hand tremor, sweating, difficulty with concentration, confusion and cognitive difficulty, memory problems, dry retching and nausea, weight loss, palpitations, headache, muscular pain and stiffness, a host of perceptual changes, hallucinations, seizures, psychosis and suicide.”
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