The death of Allen J. Longsoldier Jr. is now costing Hill and Blaine counties $1.35 million.
The Montana Human Rights Commission has ruled that the counties should pay $1.35 million for events that led to the death of Longsoldier, 18, while he was being held at the Hill County Detention Center in 2009.
Longsoldier, a former high school basketball phenomenon, was taken into custody by Blaine County officials and was transported to the Hill County facility because Blaine County has no detention center.
The state commission ruled that officials in both counties were responsible for not treating alcohol withdrawal syndrome.
In March, the Montana Human Rights Commission ruled Hill and Blaine counties had to pay $300,000 in emotional distress damages for the suffering Longsoldier experienced for six hours following his return from the Northern Montana Hospital emergency room.
The Longsoldier family initiated the legal action against the counties.
The MHRC continued to pursue “additional affirmative relief” to “address the apparent lack of knowledge possessed by law enforcement of Hill and Blaine Counties regarding the medical dangers of untreated alcohol withdrawal,” according the the final decision released last week.
This latest hearing has found Hill and Blaine County responsible not for six hours of suffering experienced by Longsoldier, but for 27 hours.
“The record shows that no initial medical screening was completed for Longsoldier at his admission to the Hill County Detention Center,” according to the official decision released by the Montana Human Rights Committee. A medical screening is required by the detention center’s written policy.
Delirium tremens is the most dangerous stage of alcohol withdrawal that may develop five to 10 days after a person has stopped drinking alcohol, according to the decision.
“Without medical care, 20 percent of persons experiencing delirium tremens will die,” the report said.
In November 2009, Longsoldier’s deputy juvenile probation officer, Tina Mord, tried to contact him so she could take care of the necessary steps to close his file, since he was no longer a juvenile once he turned 18 in June 2009.
After failing to respond to her calls, Mord requested that he be arrested and held at the Hill County Detention Center until she came to take care of the necessary business; afterwhich, he would be released.
After he was detained at the detention center, Longsoldier began to suffer from alcohol withdrawals, the decision said. The detention center eventually sent him to the hspital emergency room after he began to show signs of illness. The hospital treated him and then sent him back to the detention center at 9 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 21, 2009. Once back at the detention center, the prescription the doctors gave him to help him through the illness was never filled out and given to Longsoldier by detention officers. He worsened over the next day and died at the detention center at midnight, Nov. 22, 2009.
The counties are being sued for letting Longsoldier suffer. Blaine County is being tied into the lawsuit because Blaine deputies would also be responsible for taking Longsoldier to and from the hospital.
Blaine County Sheriff Glenn Huestissaid the next step the lawyers for the county are taking is to appeal to District Court in Helena. The review must be requested within 30 days of the decision.
Hill County Sheriff Don Brostrom did not return phone calls asking for comment this morning.
Longsoldier was an 18-year-old Native American man who was diagnosed with alcoholism at an early age.
He underwent chemical dependency treatment twice and was planning to attend a third in-patient treatment at the time of his death in November 2009.
Longsoldier was a promising basketball player for his high school team and was expected to continue his career into college.