Jailers thought Lisa Marie Ostler was suffering from the painful withdrawals that come when a body reacts to a lack of opiates. In a few days, they thought, she’d be fine.
Ostler’s insides were failing her. She couldn’t eat or drink in the days after her March 2016 arrest. In addition to her drug addiction, Ostler suffered from Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel disease that can cause extreme pain and digestive issues.
Over the course of five days, Ostler suffered a painful decline although Salt Lake County jailers ignored or overlooked her pleas for help and medical attention ahead of she died, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court. Her people says Salt Lake County jailers, medical staff and those overseeing the jail are to blame for her death.
“The difficult part in this place is understanding how she died in that jail,” stated Calvin Ostler, Lisa Ostler’s father who is a plaintiff in the new lawsuit. “She was screaming for help and they ignored her.”
“It makes me angry that they secured her in a cell,” Calvin Ostler said. “She hadn’t been convicted of anything.”
Lisa Ostler’s facts mirrors others over a country grappling with widespread opioid addiction: she was prescribed opiate medications for her disease and a gastric bypass operation. She progressed to hooked and later turned to heroin, her parents said, that is cheaper and can be easier to obtain than prescription opiates.
Ostler, who was 37 when she died, was arrested in Draper when officers approached her in a parking lot and found several syringes she allegedly used to inject heroin and meth, according to court documents.
Two days after her arrest, she started experiencing pain in her stomach. While she cried out in her jail cell, the lawsuit suggests jail staff dismissed Ostler’s suffering as the side effects from heroin withdrawals.
“I’ll bet it feels like you’re going to die, doesn’t it?” one of the jail’s officers, who the complaint identifies as Todd Booth, asked her on her third day in jail, according to the complaint. “Just a couple more days.”
Other inmates, meanwhile, thought Ostler would die if she didn’t receive medical attention from the nurses working in the jail, according to the lawsuit, filed by Rocky Anderson, an attorney and past Salt Lake City mayor.
An inmate asked jail staff to help Ostler as she heard screams coming from her cell, according to the lawsuit. Two female inmates who heard Ostler’s cries for help contacted Calvin and Kim Ostler upon their release from custody, the Ostlers said.
The complaint alleges Ostler died “because of the cruel, dismissive, deliberative indifference” by guards, medical staff and those running the jail.
“The Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office does not comment on active lawsuits,” Sgt. Kevin Hunter, a spokesman for the jail, stated Thursday.
Jail experts often assert inmates manipulate staff for a chance to take off of their cells or receive other treatment they may not need.
Ostler signified to staff her eyesight was failing, but the employees believed she was looking for a free pair of glasses, according to the complaint.
“Defendant John Doe, instead of providing, or arranging for, medical assistance to Lisa, simply stated he was not going to help her and that he was going to write her up for continuing to request medical treatment,” the complaint says.
In the fresh morning hours of April 2, Ostler attempted clawing her way out of her cell and pushed her arm over the cuff-port of the cell door, the people says.
“I have PTSD from merely listening to [other witnesses recount] the evening ahead of she died,” Kim Ostler, Lisa’s mother, signified to The Salt Lake Tribune.
Kim Ostler stated she contacted the jail after seeing on a jail booking site that Lisa had been released. Employees stated her daughter was in the hospital, Kim Ostler said. Lisa was in the intensive care unit at Intermountain Medical Center, the people says.
Some people members were unfit to see Ostler ahead of she died overnight on April 3, Kim Ostler said. The medical examiner’s report stated she died of peritonitis, an inflammation in the abdomen that can lead to a spreading infection, the people says.
The people is wanting compensation, punitive damages, attorneys fees and other relief as determined by the court.