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Mother Settles Lawsuit Over Son's Death in Missouri Jail

Jan 2, 2015

A woman whose son died in a Missouri jail after being strapped in a restraint chair for many hours has settled her lawsuit against Jasper County and other defendants.

An attorney for Jane Brown of Joplin says she received $250,000 in her lawsuit over the December 2012 death of her son, Richard Watson, 43, in the Jasper County jail. The attorney said the rest of the settlement terms are confidential, according to the Joplin Globe.

The lawsuit alleged that Watson, who suffered from physical and psychological issues, was placed in an emergency restraint chair after injuring his head in a fall. The Globe reports that he was left there for at least 21 hours without proper food, water, or his medications. Brown is calling for restrictions on the widely used device.

Sheriff Randee Kaiser says Watson was irrational and needed to be restrained to prevent him from injuring himself. The sheriff says he was strapped into an emergency restraint chair after he crashed his head through a window in the jail, according to television station KY3. The lawsuit disputes that account, saying Watson fell and hit his head.

A number of deaths have been attributed to the use of restraint chairs and families of those who died say people with medical and psychiatric conditions should not be restrained. In a North Carolina jail, two men died in the same chair; one man died while strapped in and vomiting from seizures. Jane Brown says the manual for the chair says "detainee should not be left in the emergency restraint chair for more than 2 hours,” according to KY3. The county admitted no wrongdoing and no jail policy changes are planned.

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