Judge rejects county’s appeal of $3M award in jail death

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Daniel Sisson

SAN DIEGO — A federal judge upheld a jury’s $3 million award for the family of a 21-year-old man who died in the county-run Vista jail from an asthma attack brought on by heroin withdrawal.

Daniel Sisson died in his cell on June 25, 2011. In November, a jury found that San Diego County and two nurses were deliberately indifferent toward Sisson’s health problems, resulting in his death.

A pathologist testified that Sisson died from an asthma attack brought on by heroin withdrawal.

Sisson’s civil rights were violated, jurors found, because jail staffers failed to adequately monitor inmates, especially those with health issues.

In arguing for a new trial, county attorneys said the death was the first in the jail related to asthma or heroin withdrawal.

The county argued that Sisson was treated appropriately and refused a doctor’s appointment.

Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge Cynthia Bashant ruled that the jury’s verdict was not contradictory, and that the award was not excessive.

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