'I cry every night': Mother, cellmate talk about $650K wrongful death settlement with jail
A mother poured her heart out to KATU Friday over the death of her daughter, Samantha Robinson, 42, at the Linn County jail. She also discussed the $650 thousand settlement her family reached with the sheriff's office in a wrongful death lawsuit.
"I cry every night before I go to bed," said Roberta Ostrom, Robinson's mother. "She's my youngest daughter."
Robinson's family and friends said her death from bacterial pneumonia was preventable and senseless.
But the sheriff said he stands by his staff.
Ostrom said Robinson was sick before going to jail and that authorities took her to the hospital before booking her.
“The paperwork the hospital gave said that if she wasn’t better in two or three days that she needed to be seen by a doctor," Ostrom explained.
But she said that didn't happen.
Robinson was booked into the jail in November of 2014 after failing to show up for a drug court appointment.
Ostrom said Robinson couldn't make it because she was sick and after realizing she missed the appointment turned herself into the Lebanon Police Department.
"She had used drugs for probably seven years," Ostrom said. "She was finally to where she was getting it under control."
Once inside, Jodi Cook said she and Robinson, an old friend, became cellmates.
"I was with her the last few days of her life," Cook told KATU.
She said right away she could tell Robinson was not in good shape.
"She looked really bad and I asked her if she was OK and she said, 'No.' She was really sick. And I felt her and she was burning up," Cook said. "We had tried over and over to get them to let her see medical and they kept refusing."
Cook and the family's attorney, Dan Rayfield, said over Robinson's 8-day stay in the jail, staff refused to provide adequate care despite receiving numerous notes and complaints from Robinson and Cook.
Cook said staff members kept accusing Robinson of faking it.
"How do you fake that high of a fever?" Robinson asked. "She couldn't hardly move."
Rayfield said jail staff members checked in on Robinson and documented the fatal progress of her infection through stages causing nausea, vomiting, fevers, blackened stools, coughing up blood and severe dehydration.
But he said she was only treated with ibuprofen, Tylenol and several recommendations to rest and drink fluids.
"They treated her ... so bad," Cook said, getting choked up.
Early the morning of Nov. 17, she said Robinson stopped breathing.
"I was doin' CPR on her when the guards came in and they pulled me off of her and kicked her around like she was nothin'," Cook said. "Kept telling her she was faking it and she was already gone."
The family filed a lawsuit soon after and settled with the Linn County Sheriff's Office for $650 thousand in December of 2016.
It received little coverage.
Ostrom said no one should forget what happened to her daughter.
"I don't want any other parent going through what I've gone through!" she said, crying.
Dr. Stephen Fletcher, medical examiner and surgical pathologist for Samaritan Albany General Hospital, said Robinson's death was "very preventable."
“She’s somebody who could’ve come to the hospital emergency room with her symptomatology, been seen by a qualified physician, nursing staff and I think that the diagnosis would’ve been very quick, precise and she would’ve been effectively treated," Fletcher said in a video produced by Rayfield's law firm.
Ostrom said Robinson was sober for about three months before she died.
Linn County Sheriff Bruce Riley sent KATU the following statement:
"This death, as with any death in the jail is a tragedy and my condolences go out to all involved. With that said, there are two sides to every story. This case, in particular, was thoroughly investigated by an outside agency, as well as an in-depth internal investigation. Although there is always room for improvement, I stand by my staff for the difficult job they do. My commitment to my citizens is to keep the peace with dignity, honesty and compassion; my staff and I strive to do that every day."
Riley did not immediately respond to an email asking whether any staff members were fired over Robinson's death.
Regarding why she agreed to the settlement, Ostrom said, "I didn’t want ‘em draggin’ my daughter through the mud.”
Last month the Yamhill County jail settled a separate but similar wrongful death lawsuit for $5 million.