WATERLOO, Iowa --- The family of a former Waterloo resident is taking medical staff at a Minnesota prison to court after he died while having a seizure in 2010.
Relatives said staff at the Minnesota Correctional Facility at Rush City failed to treat Xavius Scullark-Johnson, 27, after finding him unconscious from seizures in his own urine and blood in June 2010 and even turned away an ambulance that had been ordered by a doctor.
Last month, his mother, Olivia Scullark, filed a suit alleging cruel and unusual punishment, denial of due process and violation of equal protection in U.S. District Court in Minnesota. Named as defendants are nurses Denise Garin and Linda Andrews and up to 10 other officials to be identified later.
Family is seeking more than $2 million in compensatory and punitive damages.
Scullark-Johnson never went to trial for his crimes and always admitted his wrongdoing, said his grandmother, Charlotte Scullark of Waterloo.
"Now Olivia wants to go to court for him because he never did," Charlotte Scullark said.
Scullark-Johnson was born in Waterloo in June 1983, and he moved to the Twin Cities area with his mother when he was 12 or 13, his grandmother said.
She remembers him as a young boy who excelled at art.
"He was pretty easygoing," Charlotte Scullark said. But she said he suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and found trouble after he left Iowa and entered his teenage years.
His latest scrape with the law came when he violated his probation for an assault charge by leaving a treatment center without permission. He began serving his time in April 2010 and was slated to be released that September.
He started at the Oak Park Heights prison, which had a special medical unit to monitor his condition. He was later transferred to Rush City, and in May he experienced a seizure while in the dining hall, according to court records.
A month later, his Dilantin medication was cut in half because the dosage level was too high.
Then the night of June 28, 2010, he began to experience a series of seizures while in his cell. He was found unconscious with a lump on his head, but the nurse didn't take any vital signs and finished her shift without making any arrangements for medical treatment, the lawsuit states.
The next shift of medical staff was scheduled to arrive in the morning, the suit states.
Scullark-Johnson had more seizures, and when his cellmate complained, the guards put the cellmate in segregation, the suit states.
About 3:30 a.m., prison staff phoned a doctor and were told to monitor Scullark-Johnson's sleep until medical staff returned in the morning. After a second phone call, the doctor told corrections workers to summon an ambulance.
About 5:45 a.m., ambulance medics found Scullark-Johnson on the floor with blood and spit from where he had bitten himself. A prison nurse also arrived and directed the medics to not transport him to the hospital because prison health services staff would take over his care, the suit states.
Scullark-Johnson was left in his cell and was found an hour later unconscious. As the nurse began to call a doctor, guards realized he didn't have a pulse, and an ambulance was called again, the lawsuit states.
He was taken to Regions Hospital in St. Paul, Minn., where he was declared brain dead and later died June 30, 2010, the lawsuit states.
An autopsy determined he died of complications from his seizure disorder, and the Dilantin level in his blood was less that half the therapeutic range, the suit states.
At 74, Charlotte Scullark has seen three of her grandchildren die.
In addition to Scullark-Johnson's death, Ronald Scullark was shot in the back of the head during a Waterloo robbery in November 2007. Twelve-year-old Eron Scullark passed away in January 2011 in Cedar Rapids.