Suit Filed Over Woman’s ‘Avoidable’ Death at Gwinnett Jail

Denise Gertrude Forte was at the Gwinnett County jail for over a year when she was found shivering on a Saturday morning.  The 53 year old was taken to the nurse after she told authorities that she “hurt all over.”  It was previously noted that Forte has had a history with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and severe coughing fits; the nurse gave Forte a “cold protocol” (medicine for the common cold) and was told that she can see the doctor on Monday.   Forte died before that Monday came, a lawsuit was filed this month claiming her death was a result of negligence.  Weeks before she died, Forte told authorities that her cough was becoming increasingly worse and that it produced a “thick gray mucus.” 

The day Forte was found shivering, she had reported having chest pain and put in an additional request for medical attention.  Forte’s request was declined by a nurse and, according to the suit, died three hours later. 

Corizon Health is the country’s largest for-profit provider of correctional health services.  Corizon Health, the private health care provider for the jail, has encountered several controversial instances over the past years.  In addition to Forte, an inmate at the “Gwinnett jail also died last month after a medical emergency.”

Several establishments are backing away from Corizon Health.  Chatham County has opted out of renewing a contract to provide services “at the local jail, citing multiple lawsuits and accusations of poor care.”  In addition, Fulton County chose not to renew their contract with Corizon Health. 

The lawsuit, filed by Forte’s daughter, names Corizon Health and “several others as defendants: Sheriff Butch Conway, a doctor and three nurses.” The lawsuit claims that Forte’s death that resulted from her undiagnosed pneumonia was both avoidable and preventable.  The suit asks for a jury trial and for an unspecified amount in damages to be granted for Forte’s “physical, mental and emotional pain, suffering and trauma.” 


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