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Ivie, McNeill & Wyatt Obtains Major Victory on Behalf of Los Angeles County in Negligence Case

On March 5, 2019, after deliberating for less than a day, a jury found the County of Los Angeles was not liable for an inmate who suffered a psychotic breakdown and gouged his eyes out while incarcerated at Twin Towers Correctional Facility in 2014.

Partner Rickey Ivie, and Associates Chandler Parker and Jack Altura, defended the county against allegations that sheriff deputies at the correctional facility were not properly trained to respond to inmate Michael Shabsis’ calls for help, allowing him to deliberately gouge his eyes. Shabsis, who is now permanently blind, claims that the medication he was prescribed, CHANTIX, caused his mental breakdown. Phillip Cogen M.D., the prescribing doctor, and Pfizer, Inc., the distributor of CHANTIX, were also named in the lawsuit, but settled out of court.

The plaintiff sought $35 million, also alleging that the County of Los Angeles failed to provide him with timely medical treatment for a hip fracture he sustained after falling off a bunk in his cell. Ivie, McNeill & Wyatt successfully contended that the sheriff deputies did not know or have reason to know Shabsis was in need of medical care for his hip, and pointed out that the plaintiff had a lengthy history of psychological problems prior to the incident. Shabsis had also provided conflicting accounts of how he injured his hip and why he gouged out his eyes during the course of the lawsuit.

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