ELKO — An Elko man accused of methamphetamine possession was awarded $70,000 in a lawsuit settlement related to his treatment while in custody at the county jail.
Chace Lee Call, 39, was arrested in June at the Stockmen’s Hotel and Casino where an officer allegedly found two small cellophane bags containing meth near Call’s possessions.
Many details of the settlement are confidential, Call’s attorney, Todd Moody said.
With little discussion, the Elko County Commission voted Thursday to approve the $70,000 settlement at the advice of county attorney Kristin McQueary, who said litigation would cost much more and that insurance covers all but a $25,000 deductible.
McQueary also said an “employee issue” related to the case is pending.
On Oct. 23, the 39-year-old experienced fluctuations in his blood sugar while incarcerated at the Elko County Jail, according to his attorney. He was placed in an isolation cell and later moved back to general holding and assigned a top bunk.
The jail has a policy to give inmates with medical problems bottom bunks, according to Sheriff Jim Pitts, but space was limited that night. Jail officials have previously stressed capacity concerns.
Diabetic people are prone to loss of consciousness, Moody said, which makes it vital that inmates suffering from the disease aren’t in high places — such as top bunks.
In the night, Call fell and fractured his femur. Deputies reported to Call’s cell after he fell and ordered the inmate to his feet, according to the plaintiff.
“Call, attempting to comply with the order, attempted to pull himself up to walk, but was unable to comply,” the civil complaint, filed with U.S. District Court, states.
Deputies accused Call of “playing games.” No ambulance was called, but jail staff phoned Richard Almaguer, a doctor of osteopathic medicine, and left a message.
“Call continued to experience significant pain and was unable to walk or stand without assistance,” according to the complaint. Deputies accounted Call’s inability to walk or stand as a “refusal of medical treatment.”
Call crawled around the jail, from cell to cell. The pain made it difficult, “sometimes impossible, for Call to use the toilet or to walk,” the complaint states.
The following morning he saw Almaguer, who also accused the inmate of “playing games” but authorized an X-ray anyway. Four hours later, Call was examined at the hospital, diagnosed with a left femur fracture and underwent surgery.
More than 30 hours passed between the fall and treatment, the plaintiff said.
“There was no apology to my knowledge,” Moody said of the deputies after realizing Call’s leg was broken.
Call sued the county in October for damages for his pain and suffering, lost earnings, lost earning capacity, medical expenses and other related costs, including attorney fees.
It isn’t unheard of for inmates to fake a condition for their own benefit, according to Pitts. In fact, inmates often malinger, he said.
“They all try to play the system as best they can,” he said. “In the kitchen we have people claim to be allergic to oats or to be vegetarian just so they can get anything for free or a different meal.”
Call, arraigned Jan. 3, pleaded not guilty to possession of a controlled substance. Trial is scheduled for May.
Elko Daily Free Press reporter Caley Cook contributed to this story.