Parents sue nurse, Texarkana jail operator over inmate's death

Family sues nurse, jail operator over inmate's death

The parents of a 20-year-old Texarkana woman who died of diabetic complications while being held in Bi-State Justice Center Jail are suing a nurse and the company contracted to operate the lockup.

Andy and Jennifer Houser hope their action will prevent the possibility of other inmate deaths at the facility.

Morgan Angerbauer died after jail corrections officers and nursing staffers found her in what appeared to be medical distress and alone in her cell just after 4 a.m. July 1. That was 8 days shy of her 21st birthday.

The medical examiner blamed her death on acute diabetic ketoacidosis, a buildup of acid in the bloodstream when blood sugar levels run too high for too long. The condition is a side effect of untreated diabetes that usually takes many hours to become serious but that can be life-threatening if not addressed.

Angerbauer "was not given her medication like she should have, was denied her medication. And it was senseless and it shouldn't have happened," her mother told KSLA News 12.

Texarkana, Ark., police have arrested Brittany Johnson, the nurse allegedly responsible for dispensing the medication, on a charge of negligent homicide, a class A misdemeanor.

Johnson and LaSalle Corrections, the jail contractor, are named in the petition attorney Matthew Campbell filed on behalf of the estate of Morgan Angerbauer.

"At this point, we are going to file a civil rights lawsuit and also include a wrongful death component," Campbell said. "Morgan suffered. And just because she was an inmate doesn't mean they allow her to lay there and die."

Angerbauer's father said there is no excuse for someone with diabetes "... to be denied insulin simply because it does not meet the jail's schedule."

The Housers' lawsuit does not involve the city or county governments, only LaSalle Corrections and its employees.

Attorneys for LaSalle Corrections were unavailable for comment Sept. 9.

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