Sebastian County Reaches $350,000 Settlement In Inmate Death Lawsuit
SEBASTIAN COUNTY (KFSM) — Sebastian County reached a $350,000 settlement agreement Friday (Dec. 4) after the county was sued by the family of a woman who died while in custody at the Sebastian County Detention Center.
Amanda Potter, 39, was found unresponsive in her cell in the early morning hours of July 19, 2014 and was rushed to Sparks Regional Medical Center in Fort Smith where she was pronounced dead, according to the lawsuit filed by her family in December 2014.
The state crime lab ruled Potter’s death was the result of combined drug toxicity (CDI). The lawsuit claimed that when Potter was taken into custody she was exhibiting signs of CDI that included slurred speech and extremely impaired motor functions and was in need of immediate medical attention. She was arrested the night before on two misdemeanor “failure to appear” warrants out of Sebastian County and a separate warrant from Crawford County.
Potter was found in her cell at 4:20 a.m. without a pulse and with purple skin, the lawsuit states.
According to the lawsuit, Potter’s death could have been prevented if the jail had proper policies and procedures. The lawsuit also cites findings by the Department of Justice that state the jail is understaffed and underfunded.
Other defendants named in the lawsuit include Sebastian County Sheriff Bill Hollenbeck and the Sebastian County Quorum Court.
The settlement states the county has also offered “non-monetary incentives” that will increase the safety of all inmates at the jail.
Attorneys’ fees and costs in the amount of of $142,486 will be deducted from the settlement amount leaving $196,983 for Potter’s family, according to the documents.
Before a settlement was reached, the case was supposed to go before a jury in January 2016, according to court records.