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Duchesne County jail showed ‘evil motive’ in 21-year-old woman‘s death, family says in newly filed lawsuit

Complaint says lax health policies, staff training contributed to Madison Jensen’s December demise just days after arrest.<br>

| Courtesy of Jared Jensen Madison Jensen, 21, is one of 416 people to die in custody after she died of a cardiac arrhythmia due to dehydration and opiate withdrawal while in custody of the Duchesne County jail. Her family has searched for answers that have been slow to come. Other inmates say she was denied medical care before she died.

The family of a woman who died after becoming dehydrated in the Duchesne County jail in December is suing the county over her death.

Madison Jensen was 21 years old when she died on the four day after being arrested for testing positive for heroin and marijuana. Her family had called deputies to their home after she had a suicidal episode in late November.

Over her five days in custody, Jensen vomited, couldn’t eat or drink and pleaded for help as she lost at least 17 pounds before dying behind bars, The Tribune has found. The lawsuit alleges Jensen was denied medical attention at least once because there was no one in the jail who could provide it. 

“The Jail did not have any medical personnel on staff that could administer intravenous fluids to treat Madison‘s severe and obvious dehydration,” according to the lawsuit, filed Thursday in federal court in Salt Lake City. 

The suit says jailers’ conduct was “motivated by evil motive or intent and/or involved reckless or callous indifference to the civil rights of Madison.”

A Tribune investigation found Duchesne County pays a Draper physician, Kennon C. Tubbs, to send a physician assistant once per week to visit the jail and treat inmates who have indicated they have medical needs. Tubbs isn’t named in the lawsuit but his assistant, Logan Clark, is.

In a request Jensen made either Nov. 31 or Dec. 1 (she wrote the incorrect date Dec. 31 on the jail’s form), Jensen said she’d been vomiting and had diarrhea since she was arrested and needed help.

Tubbs, whose contract says he will be available by phone, said he never received a call from the jail’s licensed practical nurse, Jana Clyde, who was also named in the suit. 

The lawsuit says Duchesne County acted with “deliberate indifference” to Jensen‘s medical needs for “failing to have policies and procedures in place“ to ensure staff were trained and able to provide necessary medical care.

Tubbs has similar contracts with eight other counties in Utah and Wyoming.

Duchesne County Sheriff David Boren hasn’t commented on Jensen’s death, other than to issue a statement in March saying investigations were ongoing and he wouldn’t comment until they were complete. 

In response to the lawsuit and questions Thursday, Lt. Jeremy Curry, a spokesman who is also named in the suit, provided a statement saying the sheriff’s office hadn’t been served with the suit.

“The circumstances surrounding Ms. Jensen‘s death are still the subject of an independent investigation that is being conducted by the Utah Attorney General’s Office,” according to the statement. “For these reasons, it would be premature for the sheriff’s office to comment on the lawsuit at this time.”

Curry didn’t respond to questions about whether any staff member had been let go or if other changes were made following Jensen’s death. Jensen was the second death in one week in the jail. The attorney general’s office declined to comment Thursday.

| Courtesy of Jared Jensen Madison Jensen, 21, is one of 416 people to die in custody after she died of a cardiac arrhythmia due to dehydration and opiate withdrawal while in custody of the Duchesne County jail. Her family has searched for answers that have been slow to come. Other inmates say she was denied medical care before she died.

Jared Jensen, Madison’s father, said he filed suit to force changes in county practices. The suit also asks for an unspecified amount for general, special and punitive damages.

“They forced us to file a lawsuit to get answers,” he said. “They haven‘t made one change. The same people are in that jail.”

The county recently approved the hiring of a registered nurse. 

When Clark, the physician assistant, arrived at the Duchesne County jail on Dec. 1, Clyde, the nurse, told him Jensen needed to be seen and treated, documents show. By the time the two arrived at her cell, Jensen was dead.

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