The Cochran Firm Announces $25 Million Notice of Claim against City of New York and Corrections Department in Wrongful Death Action

Friday, May 16, 2014

Decedent Was Jailed in Temperatures Exceeding 100 Degrees While Corrections Officials Ignored Complaints of Excessive Heat

NEW YORK, NY (May 16, 2014) — Derek Sells, Managing Partner, The Cochran Firm, has announced the filing of a $25 million notice of claim and pre-action lawsuit against the City of New York and the New York City Department of Corrections on behalf of Alma Murdough as Proposed Administrator for the Estate of Jerome Murdough. Mr. Murdough died as a result of prolonged exposure to excessive heat inside his jail cell. The claim seeks a recovery for damages related to the wrongful death suffered by Mr. Murdough. Mr. Sells was joined by Tracey Brown, a Partner with The Cochran Firm, and Ms. Murdough, along with other members of the Murdough family.

On February 7, officers from the New York Police Department arrested Mr. Murdough for trespassing. Since he was unable to make bail, he was transferred to Riker’s Island Correctional Facility. While incarcerated, he was exposed to extreme heat conditions for an unreasonably long period of time. On or around February 15, he was found dead in his cell. The temperature inside his jail cell was at 101 degrees Fahrenheit and Mr. Murdough’s body temperature was measured at 103 degrees Fahrenheit, three hours after he was pronounced dead.

An initial investigation from the Department of Corrections (DOC) showed that, in the critical period prior to Mr. Murdough’s death, the corrections officer assigned to the cell area abandoned her post and her supervisor failed to tour the area. When finally another corrections officer assumed the post, Mr. Murdough was observed in his cell unresponsive, slumped over on the side of his bed near a pool of vomit and blood.

It was later found that inmates reported excessive heat in their jail cells, although there were no logbook entries on the inmates’ complaints. Two work orders submitted the day before Mr. Murdough died, citing too much heat, were not acted upon until it was too late to save Mr. Murdough. A work order noting the area where Mr. Murdough was held was too hot was generated after Mr. Murdough’s death and later completed.

“There is no doubt that the city and the Department of Corrections are responsible for Mr. Murdough’s death,” Mr. Sells said. “They left him to die in cruel and inhumane conditions without any concern for his well-being. Because of their willful negligence and blatant disregard for his civil rights, they allowed Mr. Murdough to die unnecessarily.”

For more information, call 212-553-9215.

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About The Cochran Firm

Founded by the late Johnnie Cochran more than 40 years ago, The Cochran Firm is one of the premier plaintiffs’ litigation law firms in the United States. The Cochran Firm has brought together some of the most highly-respected and experienced men and women in the legal field. Its attorneys have obtained significant verdicts and settlements in a number of noteworthy and high-profile cases, but work equally hard on every case they take. Practice areas include civil rights, police brutality, employment discrimination, personal injury, wrongful death, auto accidents, medical malpractice, and business fraud. For more information, call 212-553-9215.