Niagara Gazette

Courts

January 9, 2013

County sued over inmate's suicide

Niagara Gazette —

Survivors of an inmate who committed suicide at the Niagara County Jail last year are suing the county for wrongful death.

According to a lawsuit filed Monday in state Supreme Court, Douglas Case blames the county and Sheriff James Voutour for his father Harold G. Case's death as they did not "safeguard," "protect" and prevent the elder Case from harming himself last Jan. 23.

Case, 50, jumped from a second-story walkway inside the jail as he was being escorted to the bus that would take him to state prison. He'd recently been sentenced to 15 years of incarceration after pleading guilty to attempted rape.

At the time, Voutour told the media there was no way to foresee or prevent Case's suicide, as he'd been screened upon admission to the hail and scored as "very low" risk.

Case reportedly bolted from his uniformed escorts almost as soon as his cell door was opened, climbed onto a railing lining the walkway and dove off before the escorts could get a hold of him. He hit the ground head-first and died quickly, Voutour said at the time. Case left a suicide note behind in his cell.

Harold Case's son, the administrator of his estate, alleges in the suit that the county failed to adequately protect an inmate with a "history" of suicidal imagining and, further, that the design of the holding center is insufficient to prevent an inmate from falling to ground level from the second floor.

The suit, represented by Lockport attorney John Louis Wilson, seeks an unspecified monetary award for Douglas Case and his sister, Amy Case, for the loss of their father.

The Buffalo-based Gibson, McAskill & Crosby law firm is representing the county in court, according to County Attorney Claude Joerg.

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