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Friday last chance to resolve Gregg County Jail inmate death lawsuit before jury selected

By Glenn Evans
Jan. 1, 2013 at 10 p.m.

The legal fight over the December 2010 death of a Gregg County Jail inmate goes to a last-ditch mediation hearing Friday. Should mediation fail, jury selection is scheduled to begin Monday in U.S. District Court in Marshall.

The survivors of Amy Lynn Cowling of Gilmer filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Gregg County following her death while in jail custody.

Cowling died on the fifth day she was in jail, held on misdemeanor theft charges and unpaid traffic tickets.

"Amy died alone in an 8 x 10 separation cell on Dec. 28, 2010, while the medicines that would have saved her sat locked up in an inmate property room down the hall," a recent filing by plaintiffs' attorneys reads.

The federal court record indicates attorneys will meet Friday in Marshall for a one-day mediation hearing in U.S. District Judge Rodney Gilstrap's court. This would be the second time mediation has been attempted in the case.

Robert Davis, the attorney representing Gregg County, did not return a phone message left Monday with his assistant in Tyler. Attorneys for the Cowling family were not available to speak on the record Monday.

Jury selection also is scheduled to begin Monday, with the trial slated for Jan. 22.

A recovering opiate addict, the 33-year-old Cowling was prescribed methadone, Xanax and Seroquel for the addiction and the anxiety of withdrawal.

According to her family, she carried her medicines in prescription bottles bearing her name when she was arrested Christmas Eve 2010.

Those medications are not on the list of approved prescriptions set by Gregg County Health Authority Dr. Lewis Browne. The doctor, by phone, prescribed Librium for anxiety and Haldol, an anti-psychotic drug, for Cowling, according to documents filed with the court.

Browne, who was not scheduled to make his in-person jail visit until five days after Cowling was arrested, also prescribed a Catapres patch, used to treat high blood pressure, the document stated.

Most motions filed by the county have been sealed by the court.

The December filing, submitted by Cowling family attorneys, described Cowling gradually slipping into a state marked by seizures and inability to communicate. Jailers and other inmates, the filing says, reported Cowling crying and howling, shaking uncontrollably and unresponsive.

"Dr. Browne, based upon his telephone calls with the jail nurses, also decided Amy was faking seizures," the filing reads.



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