Deputy, nurse added to lawsuit over inmate who died of allergy

Michael Saffioti turned himself in over a minor charge and died in less than 24 hours


By Martha Bellisle
Associated Press

SEATTLE — The family of a young man with a severe dairy allergy who died after he was fed dairy products at the Snohomish County Jail has added two people and a food provider to their federal lawsuit.

And on Friday, the Snohomish County prosecuting attorney filed his answer to the complaint, denying that anyone at the jail did anything to cause the death of Michael Saffioti.

The lawsuit says that Saffioti was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of marijuana possession in July 2012. The lawsuit claims he told jail officials that he had health issues, including asthma and a dairy allergy. The morning after his booking, when Saffioti received his breakfast tray without a special dietary note, he complained to the deputy but was told to eat his oatmeal or go without food, the lawsuit says.

After taking a few bites, he became ill and died soon after, the lawsuit says.

Jail staff ignored his pleas for help, according to the lawsuit, which was moved in March from state court to the U.S. District Court in Seattle.

Cheryl Snow, a lawyer representing his mother, Rosemary Saffioti, said on Friday that they recently added Deputy Brian Quinn and nurse Betty Lusk to the lawsuit because "additional discovery confirmed that we had sufficient evidence of their deliberate indifference toward Michael's serious medical need."

Quinn and Deputy Lennon Del Rosario ignored Saffioti's pleas for help and for someone to call 911, Snow said.

"Nurse Lusk was the booking nurse who failed to make note of Michael's serious medical need due to his severe allergy to dairy, failed to order an EPI pen for Michael that should have been kept in Michael's module, and failed to make a special dietary request to the kitchen," Snow said in an email to The Associated Press.

They also added Aramark Correctional Services LLC to the lawsuit because it provided food to the prison, she said. "Snohomish County appears to be attempting to blame them for Michael's death, so we had to join them for now," Snow said.

In the county's response to the complaint, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Robert Tad Seder said that while the lawsuit is correct that Quinn, Lusk and Del Rosario worked at the jail at that time and interacted with Saffioti, they did not ignore his condition. Seder denied that Saffioti explained to Lusk about "the severity of his milk/dairy allergy."

Seder said it was the practice of the booking nurse and staff to report any special meal needs to the kitchen and Lusk taped a note to the front of his chart about his dairy allergy.

"She further recalled giving Mr. Saffioti his inhaler and setting up the paperwork so that he could have his inhaler in the module," Seder said.

Seder also said Del Rosario told Quinn that he had contacted medical personnel about Saffioti, and soon after, Quinn spoke with the inmate and called in medical help.

The trial on the case is scheduled for May 29.

 

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