Two men who were working as correctional officers at the Tygart Valley Regional Jail when an inmate died of alcohol withdrawal will have to pay $185,000 to the man’s family as part of the settlement of a 2-year-old lawsuit.
U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Goodwin on July 1 approved a settlement between the family of the late Randy Scott Shull and the two men accused of neglecting Shull leading to his death, Michael Flanagan and Britt Adkins.
After attorneys’ fees and other costs, Shull’s surviving relatives, including two daughters and three siblings, will evenly split $102,545 in the wrongful death settlement.
A fourth sibling of Shull’s waived his right to any settlement money in the case in May 2020.
The settlement is a result of mediation among the parties that started in April, according to court records. In accepting the settlement, Goodwin ordered the case closed.
Shull’s daughter, Mandy Delli-Veneri, originally filed a lawsuit in Kanawha Circuit Court in September 2019, naming Flanagan, Adkins and the state Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation as defendants.
The Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation moved the case to federal district court and named Primecare Medical of West Virginia, Inc., which provided health care services in the jail, as a party to the action.
Goodwin dismissed Primecare from the lawsuit in April 2020. He dismissed the Division from the suit in March 2021. Per the terms of the settlement, Flanagan and Adkins are personally responsible for paying the $185,000 settlement.
Tucker County Sheriff’s deputies arrested 63-year-old Shull on July 26, 2017. He was charged with second-degree murder, according to Gazette-Mail reports at the time. He was accused of killing his girlfriend, Katherine Lillie, during an argument at his apartment.
Shull was incarcerated at Tygart Valley Regional Jail in Barbour County, where he told a health care provider he consumed alcohol to the point of intoxication on a daily basis and to help him sleep.
Based on his alcohol consumption history and the nature of the crime of which he was accused, the health care provider ordered that Shull be placed on a “30-minute special watch” or “30-minute detox watch,” meaning correctional officers were to check on him every 30 minutes, according to the lawsuit.
Shull died sometime overnight between July 26 and July 27, 2017.
In the lawsuit, Delli-Veneri accused of Flanagan and Adkins of failing to check on Shull as ordered, and of falsifying the watch log after they discovered Shull dead in his jail cell.
In the lawsuit, Delli-Veneri said Flanagan came forward about the culture at the jail, saying there was “a pervasive attitude of at least some of the correctional officers to engage in deliberate indifference to the inmates.”
Flanagan said in an affidavit he was encouraged by some of his superior officers to falsify records “to make things look good for Charleston,” according to the lawsuit.
Delli-Veneri was represented by Lonnie Simmons, of DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress LLC in Charleston, and William T. Nestor, in Elkins.