Suit over death of woman jailed over truancy fines settled

AP News
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Posted: Mar 26, 2016 7:09 PM

READING, Pa. (AP) — A settlement has been reached in a lawsuit filed by survivors of an eastern Pennsylvania woman who died nearly two years ago during a weekend jail stint over school truancy fines.

A lawyer representing the adult children of Eileen DiNino filed an affidavit in federal court in Philadelphia on March 7 confirming that a settlement had been reached and proceeds had been distributed to the heirs of the mother of seven, The Reading Eagle (http://bit.ly/21MnVjD ) reported.

DiNino, 55, of Reading was found unresponsive in her cell in Berks County jail in June 2014. She had been ordered to spend two days for failure to pay $2,000 in fines stemming from her children's school absences. The debt had accrued since 1999 and involved several of her children.

A state police review found that she reported having "discomfort and some difficulty breathing," while in custody, was seen by medical staff and was then returned to her cell, where guards were to check on her.

An autopsy concluded she died of natural causes, including high blood pressure that contributed to heart failure, and state police concluded no charges should be filed.

The lawsuit named the county and PrimeCare Medical Inc., which provides health care services in the jail, among others. A judge last fall granted a request to have the case against the county dismissed. Court documents indicate that the jail care provider agreed to a settlement Jan. 12. The suit did not name a specific amount but asked for compensatory and punitive damages. The agreement was sealed and officials, principals and attorneys couldn't be reached for comment or declined to offer any.

Following DiNino's death, state House members approved a bill that would provide judges with alternatives to incarceration for minor offenses. The bill awaits action in the Senate, where two members have proposed completely removing incarceration as an alternative in truancy cases.

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Information from: Reading Eagle, http://www.readingeagle.com/