August 16, 2018
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Suit settled over man who died in Somerset County Jail

By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff
Updated:

BANGOR, Maine — The girlfriend of a Wilton man who died in May 2014 at the Somerset County Jail has settled her lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court against the county, former Sheriff Barry Delong and four jail employees, according to information filed on the court’s electronic case filing system.

Joseph F. Daoust, 27, died May 28, 2014, while being held on drug charges at the Somerset County Jail in East Madison of a pulmonary hemorrhage that caused his lungs to fill with blood, according to the complaint filed in federal court in April 2015.

The Morning Sentinel of Waterville reported Thursday that the settlement could pay Pamela Swett and her 5-year-old son close to $2 million. The documents outlining the settlement have been sealed. Redacted copies will be filed by Feb. 5, when the settlement is to become final and the case will be dismissed.

A settlement was reached on Nov. 5, according to information on the court’s electronic case filing system.

Swett’s attorney, Jonathan Sahrbeck of Portland, declined Thursday to comment on the settlement. Efforts to reach Peter Marchesi, the Waterville attorney who represents the county and Delong, were unsuccessful Thursday, as were attempts to reach attorneys representing jail employees.

Daoust was brought into the jail on May 16, 2014, as a boarder from Franklin County, according to the complaint. A week later, correction staff used pepper spray on Daoust after he refused to come out of his cell. On May 26, staff pepper sprayed him again after he refused to be handcuffed.

The next day, according to the complaint, Daoust began having trouble breathing. He was found dead in his cell about 2:07 a.m. on May 28, 2014.

The lawsuit alleged that the pepper spray caused Daoust’s lungs to fill with blood.

The county, sheriff and jail employees denied any wrongdoing in their answer to the complaint.

“[Daoust’s] own conduct was the sole or a contributing cause of his injuries,” the defendants in the lawsuit claimed.

The case was settled before motions for summary judgment were filed, so a judge did not determine what facts needed to be decided by a jury.


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