Settlement Reached in Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against County of Monterey and Members of Law Enforcement

Monterey, CA – September 6, 2018 – Hon. Lucy Koh of the United States District Court today approved a global settlement against the County of Monterey and California Forensic Medical Group in the amount of $825,000 to end a lawsuit filed by the surviving children of a woman who died while in police custody on December 19, 2015. The County and CFMG will split the total amount 50/50.

Larra Ann Gillis died in the hospital after having spent roughly 28 hours in police custody without receiving proper medical treatment.

“It’s a just result that will make a real difference for the surviving children of Ms. Gillis,” said attorney Elise Sanguinetti, founding partner at Arias Sanguinetti Wang & Torrijos LLP. “The County could have and should have provided better care for this poor woman, and hopefully as a result of this lawsuit and settlement, jails and law enforcement will better enforce standards of care for those who have been incarcerated from now on.”

On December 4, 2015, California State University Monterey Bay police responded to a call reporting a woman (Gillis) was walking in and out of traffic in Marina, CA. Gillis was uncooperative, but officers eventually apprehended her and placed her in handcuffs. Gillis was then taken into custody and while the County policy is for incoming inmates to receive medical assessments from medical personnel before being placed in a cell, she was placed directly into a safety cell as a result of her erratic behavior. Gillis spent the next 28 hours in a holding cell, was never given a full medical assessment to check her vital signs including heart rate, blood pressure, pulse and respirations. The initial claimed medical assessment lasted only 12 seconds and consisted of a nurse looking through a window to the safety cell.  The medical assessments continued in this manner for most of the incarceration despite medical and County personnel acknowledging no vital signs had been obtained for Ms. Gillis. (video footage confirms this).

Gillis was taken into custody on December 4 and at 11:30 AM on December 5, she was discovered lying in her own excrement and mumbling to herself. Emergency services were contacted, and she was taken to Natividad Hospital where she died on December 19, 2015.

During the discovery process of litigation, it was found out that many of the people entering custody that are “combative” are not seen by medical personnel and are instead placed directly in a cell. if they are considered “combative.”