Chatham County Jail, Sheriff’s, Corizon Sued by Family of Inmate

Deliberate indifference and wrongful death.

Those are the claims made by the family of a Chatham County inmate who died in custody. A death they say could have been prevented if the jail, the healthcare provider and its doctors did their job.

He had hypertension and diabetes, took medicine, and Corizon Health and Jail officials knew it.

That’s part of the claim made in Federal court by Donald Johnson’s wife.

It’s a claim backed up by Johnson’s own words the day he died.

Donald Johnson died at the Chatham County Jail in 2014
Donald Johnson died at the Chatham County Jail in 2014

“But nobody has time, nobody has time, nobody has to deal with nobody, nothing in no prison,” said Donald Johnson in an audio recording from prison.

And nobody heard Donald Johnson speak again after November 13, 2014.

“i know he would be here if he never went there,” said Rochon Johnson-Gordon, Johnson’s Daughter.

Rochelle Johnson-Gordon told News 3 her father told her they weren’t checking on his condition.”

“Next time my pressure go up and they don’t check it, f–k it,” said Johnson in the prison phone call. “They don’t check it. There’s nothing I can do about it. I done told everybody I know.”

And Gordon says her cries for help to the jail went unanswered.

“How many times did you call?”
“My dad was in there 3 months and i would say it had to be 20 something times,” said Rochon Johnson-Gordon.

“Starting with September 24 and for 6 weeks until he died his blood pressure was not checked once,” said Will Claiborne, Johnson’s family Lawyer

Donald Johnson's family blames Corizon, the health care provider at the Chatham County jail in 2014, for his death
Donald Johnson’s family blames Corizon, the health care provider at the Chatham County jail in 2014, for his death

The lawsuit calls it “deliberate indifference” by Corizon, the jail health care provider.

The suit adds that Johnson suffered “great physical pain and mental anguish” before his death.

The Johnson family points out the Chatham County Sheriffs office was warned by senior Corizon staff about the “dire” medical conditions at the jail, and if he wasn’t treated his condition could “result in irreperable harm or death.”

“This is the first time you told me, ‘They won’t take my pressure for nothing. I mean, there are some things you have to be proactive on and aggressive about,” said Sandra Johnson in the same prison phone call.
“There ain’t no sense in telling you because you ain’t goan do nothing.” said Donald Johnson.

“I hung up on my mom and i called the jail and said you let him have a heart attack didn’t you,”
remembers Rochon Johnson-Gordon. “Nothing is changing and its all because they want a damn bonus at the end of the year.”

Also named in the suit were the two Corizon doctors who are accused of not checking on Johnson’s condition for those six weeks.

Corizon was fired as the jail’s health care provider in 2015.

The family’s lawyer is asking for an undisclosed amount of damages from Corizon, the doctors, the Chatham County Jail, and Sheriff John Wilcher.

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