El Paso Times features $2.5 million jury verdict against El Paso County

El Paso Times: BORDERLAND PAGE: 01B
May 21, 2003
Scherr & Legate
County found liable in jail death
By Tammy Fonce-Olivas

The widow of a Mexican doctor who died six years ago while held at the El Paso County Jail on traffic violations was awarded $2.5 million Tuesday by an El Paso jury.

Jessie Dorado alleged in a lawsuit that her husband, Dr. Eduardo Miranda, was deprived of his constitutional right to “receive adequate medical care while confined as a pretrial detainee.”

County Attorney Jose Rodriguez said he intends to encourage the County Commissioners Court to appeal the case.

“We feel there was no wrongdoing,” Rodriguez said.

Jim Scherr, one of Dorado’s lawyers, said the jury was right in penalizing the county.

Scherr said Miranda died while in the county’s custody because the jail staff neglected to provide him medicine to prevent seizures.

“They ignored his pleas for help,” Scherr said.

During the trial, lawyers for the county said Miranda was responsible for his own death because he was addicted to medications, which he didn’t ask for while in jail.

But lawyers for Dorado argued that Miranda asked for medial assistance. Scherr said that when Miranda suffered a seizure while in jail, instead of receiving medical attention, he was restrained “because they thought he was being combative.”

Scherr had asked the jury to award Dorado and her daughter $7.5 million. After deliberating for four days, the jury awarded the widow and her daughter $2.5 million.

“I am very grateful to the jury,” Dorado said after the trial. “This is a huge relief because I’ve been hoping for justice.”

Scherr added that the monetary damages awarded to Dorado would have been significantly less if the county had agreed to a settlement. He said they originally asked the county to settle the case in exchange for $100,000.