The Justice Files: Court of Appeals rules in favor of deceased jail inmate

Justice Files

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 UTAH) – A federal court of appeals ruled Jana Clyde must stand trial in a lawsuit filed against her.

In 2018, a district court judge in Duchesne County dismissed negligent homicide charges against her. 

The jail’s nurse was accused of failing to give proper medical attention to Madison Jensen who was in the county jail in 2016.

“When she went to that jail she went to save her own life and it ended up costing her life,” said her father in 2018.

The 21-year old with the support of her parents, turned herself into the Duchesne County jail.  

Four days later, she died from dehydration.

It stemmed from drug withdrawals causing Madison to vomit, she couldn’t eat or drink and lost 17-pounds in those four days.

Her family felt betrayed by the system.

“When it fails, it directly impacted our family to the extreme,” said Jensen last week. “We can never heal to a point that never totally get over this.”

After the case was dismissed during a preliminary hearing, the family appealed. The Utah Court of Appeals eventually reversed the decision ordering a new trial.

But they also filed a federal civil lawsuit against Clyde and others, including the jail’s part-time doctor, Kennon Tubbs and his assistant Logan Clark.

Last year, Clyde and Tubbs appealed after a federal judge refused to dismiss the lawsuit.

Last week, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in the Jensen’s favor. It denied Clyde’s attempt to dismiss the case..

The appeals court states in part: “Clyde was the gatekeeper … and failed to fulfill that role by treating her with “Gatorade.”

“Where Jana Clyde is a gatekeeper, in the court’s view, there was evidence she knew of Madison’s condition and the circumstances she was going through but chose not to report that information to the medical personnel,” said the Jensen attorney Ryan Hancey. “She was medically indifferent.”

The ruling dismissed Dr. Tubbs from the lawsuit, claiming as a government contractor he was immune from the lawsuit.

The appeals court upheld an earlier ruling that Clyde can’t claim government immunity.

It’s a battle for justice that is now entering its fifth year. But for the Jensen’s there’s too much at stake to walk away.

“As a parent, I don’t want this to happen to another parent or anybody to go through what we went through,” said Jensen.

Jana Clyde’s trial on state criminal charges is scheduled for July in Duchesne County.

As for the federal lawsuit, it will also proceed.

But Jensen said there’s some discussion whether they want to appeal the government immunity protection granted by Dr. Tubbs who is considered a contractor of the state and not a full-time employee.

If appealed, it would have to come before the U.S. Supreme Court.

“(If we win there) It would set a precedent,” said Jensen. “And Madison’s case would forever be referred to whenever there’s a lawsuit like ours.”

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