On July 13, 2012, the County of Passaic agreed to pay $49,000 to a woman whose son died in jail after allegedly not receiving needed medical treatment.

In her suit, Anita Jackson said that her son, John E. Jackson, died on March 15, 2007 while in custody at the Passaic County Jail.  She claims that her son became “extremely ill while incarcerated” but, despite numerous requested for treatment, “the nurse employed by the Passaic County Jail took no action.”

Also named in the suit was the United States Marshal Service.  The Marshall Service, however, is not named in the settlement agreement and may have settled separately with Jackson.

The case is captioned Jackson v. County of Passaic, Federal Case No. 2:09-cv-01134 and Jackson’s attorney was Shannon Garrahan of Oradell.  Case documents are on-line here.

None of Jackson’s allegations have been proven or disproven in court. The settlement agreement resolution expressly states that the $49,000 payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by Passaic or any of its officials. All that is known for sure is that Passaic or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Jackson $49,000 than take the matter to trial. Perhaps the defendants’ decision to settle was done to save further legal expense and the costs of trying what were in fact exaggerated or meritless claims. Or, perhaps the claims were true and the defendants wanted to avoid being embarrassed at trial. This is the problem when cases settle before trial–it is impossible to know the truth of what really happened.

Chairman of the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Open Government Advocacy Project. Please send all comments to [email protected]