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County loses appeal in Montano case

Court upholds $2.9M award

 

By Dawn Burleigh

The Orange Leader

 

A ruling issued Tuesday by the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans upholds the 2015 award.

The family of Robert Montano was awarded $2.4 million in 2015.

Orange County appealed the decision.

Robert Montano’s family members, following his death inside the Orange County Correctional Facility on Oct. 12, 2011, filed the lawsuit.

Montano, 41, of Orangefield, was arrested on Oct. 7, 2011 by Orange County deputies for public intoxication. He was reportedly under the influence of bath salts according to a previously published Orange Leader article.

Montano was placed in a medical observation cell for five days until his death, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit states Montano, who was a known mental health patient, did not receive ‘basic human needs’ consisting of medical and mental health care, food or water during his incarceration.

Texas Ranger Bobby Smith conducted an investigation into Montano’s death, which he closed on Dec. 5, 2011 and concurred with the medical examiner’s report that Montano died from ‘renal failure due to bath salts toxicity.’ The lawsuit states the toxicology report makes no indication of illegal drugs being found in Montano’s system.

The Texas Rangers conducted an investigation, which closed Dec. 5, 2011 and concurred with the medical examiner’s report that Montano died from ‘renal failure due to bath salts toxicity.’

According to the judgment issued by the United State District Court for the eastern District of Texas, the county’s health services plan required written observation of a suicide –risk detainees every 15 minutes and the written observations of Montano were recorded approximately every 30 minutes.

A new trail motion was denied because the appeals court did not feel the awarded damages were excessive.

In the document it further reads: “There is no denying Mr. Montano was punished. The record demonstrates the county denied him medical care with the expectation that he would heal himself.”