Kansas County to Pay Family of Deceased Inmate $500,000 in Settlement

Shawnee County, KS, recently agreed to pay $500,000 from its special liability fund to the family of Julio C. Aguirre, 35, an inmate who died in December 2010 after displaying bizarre behaviors while being held in county jail.

According to a June 1 Topeka Capital-Journal article, County Commissioners Kevin Cook, Shelly Buhler and Bob Archer voted 3-0 to approve the settlement, which will be paid in exchange for the dismissal of the wrongful death lawsuit filed by Aguirre’s widow, Laura V. Lopez-Aguirre.

County counselor Rich Eckert described Lopez-Aguirre’s lawsuit as “probably the most hotly contested litigation that I’ve ever been a part of.”

Eckert explained that the county continues to deny negligence in the case.

Lopez-Aguirre, who has two children from her marriage to Aguirre, claimed in her 2012 lawsuit that constitutional violations and negligence led to Aguirre’s death two days after the jail released him to be hospitalized. For an eight-day period before that, jail guards allowed Aguirre to sustain severe injuries stemming from his bizarre behavior, which included drinking toilet water, slamming himself against the wall and rolling around in his own excrement.

The jail only brought him to Osawatomie State Hospital when he had stopped eating. Two days later, Aguirre died from a number of health problems, including acute renal and respiratory failure.

Lopez-Aguirre named 24 defendants. In addition to Shawnee County’s payout, Corizon Health Inc., formerly known as Prison Health Services Inc., has agreed to purchase a structured settlement annuity totaling $650,000 that will go to both of Aguirre’s children.

Last year, a federal judge ordered defendants Valeo Behavioral Health Care Inc. and Security Benefit Transport Services Inc. to pay Aguirre’s family $100,000 and $37,500, respectively.

Ultimately, Eckert says the county’s decision acts as “the final piece in resolving the case.”

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