Schuylkill County Prison officials, Coaldale Police and others are among numerous people facing a wrongful death lawsuit over a Coaldale woman’s suicide back in January 2020.
Stacy Redclift killed herself while she was incarcerated there following a domestic dispute with her husband and son by hanging herself with a prison-issued shoelace, the suit alleges.
In court documents filed on Nov. 2 at the US District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, the husband of the deceased woman says law enforcement officials – from Coaldale police to officials and employees at Schuylkill County Prison – failed to take into account her history of mental illness when they locked her up that night.
Sean Redclift, on behalf of his deceased wife’s estate, seeks $150,000 in damages from the defendants named in the lawsuit.
Schuylkill County Prison, Coaldale Police Accused of Wrongful Death Over Coaldale Woman’s 2020 Suicide
- Plaintiffs: Sean Redclift and Estate of Stacy Redclift, Coaldale
- Defendants: Schuylkill County, Schuylkill County Prison Board, former Schuylkill County Prison Warden Eugene Berdanier, Primecare Medical Inc. (provides medical care at Schuylkill County Prison), 3 Jane Doe Nurses, 4 John Doe Correctional Officers, Coaldale Police Dept., Coaldale borough, Coaldale police officer Matthew Jungbaer, 2 John Doe Coaldale police officers
According to Redclift’s lawsuit, the situation that led to his wife’s death started on the morning of Jan. 6, 2020.
At about 3:15 a.m., he and his wife, along with their son (one of 3 children the couple has) were involved in a domestic dispute. That prompted a call from police in Coaldale, including Matthew Jungbaer, who is named specifically in the lawsuit.
Jungbaer placed Stacy Redclift into custody due to her “erratic and non-compliant behavior” the lawsuit states. She was soon arraigned in District Court and released on unsecured bail. She was taken to her mother’s house for the night but returned to her home soon afterward.
When she got back home, Stacy Redclift apparently started exhibiting that same behavior. And that prompted another call from Coaldale PD. Rather than take her to court, she was “immediately transported” to Schuylkill County Prison. It was the first time she’d ever been put in jail, the lawsuit states.
Before police left with Stacy Redclift, her husband and son state in their lawsuit that they advised Coaldale officers that she had a history of mental illness, psychotic episodes, and suicidal tendencies and that she’d previously attempted to take her own life. However, they say Coaldale PD officers never informed Schuylkill County Prison officials of Redclift’s history of mental illness.
Redclift was assigned to Cell Block B at Schuylkill County Prison after being processed by prison officials. The lawsuit claims that prison employees failed to take any actions to protect Redclift from herself and account for her safety when they did this even though “the need to do so was known and obvious.” Redclift was not provided any medication or psychiatric care, the suit claims. It says she should have been placed on suicide watch at the prison.
Instead, she was assigned to cell B-8 at the prison and was allowed to wear normal prison clothes and shoes, despite the mental health risks she posed to herself, the lawsuit continues. It accuses prison officials, including then-Warden Eugene Berdanier, 3 nurses with Primecare Medical Inc., a private company hired to provide care at the lock-up, and 3 corrections officers.
The nurses and corrections officers, along with two other Coaldale police officers are not identified in the lawsuit.
The suit claims these officials at the prison acted “intentionally and with deliberate indifference” to Redclift’s condition and put her in an unsupervised cell and “given access to numerous ways to kill herself, including access to shoelaces and structures/fixtures on which a person could hang themselves.”
Further, the suit accuses 3 unnamed corrections officers of failing to monitor Redclift’s cell during her short stay there.
On the evening of Jan. 7, Redclift’s cellmate, Kim Leary, claims she awoke in the middle of the night to use the toilet. That’s when she discovered Redclift with a noose made out of shoelaces around her neck.
Corrections officers responded to the cell and found Redclift unresponsive. She was taken to a hospital in Pottsville. EMS personnel who responded to the prison and transported Redclift allegedly told police that the woman didn’t show any signs of life when they transported her.
Redclift was pronounced dead at the hospital on Jan. 8. Lehigh County Forensic Pathologist Barbara Bollinger determined the cause of Redclift’s death as strangulation.
“If the defendants had not been deliberately indifferent to (Redclift’s) serious psychological mental health issues and medical needs, she would not have attempted or been able to commit suicide,” the complaint reads.
It further alleges that Coaldale police didn’t properly fill out intake forms for Redclift at the prison, which would have indicated her mental health status at the time. And prison officials furthered that by ignoring obvious signs of mental health issues.
Redclift is being represented by attorneys James Amato and Eric Prock of Pottsville.