- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 2, 2016

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - A wrongful-death lawsuit by the family of a 72-year-old Gonzales man who died at East Baton Rouge Parish Prison in 2014 has cleared a hurdle when a federal judge refused to dismiss it.

The Advocate reports (https://bit.ly/2aoWGtw) U.S. District Judge John deGravelles on Monday rejected requests from East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Sid Gautreaux, Parish Prison Warden Dennis Grimes and Prison Medical Services — to throw the suit out.

The lawsuit, filed last November by Cleveland’s son and two daughters, alleges Cleveland’s medical and mental issues were ignored while he was jailed.

The suit claims the medical personnel who treated him at the prison were inadequately trained to recognize how his bipolar disorder and mental illness could impact his ability to communicate his medical needs or to meaningfully participate in his treatment. The family also says prison officials were inadequately equipped to recognize and treat mental illness, and that prison medical personnel were inadequately trained and equipped to treat his heart problems.

In asking that the suit be dismissed, attorneys for the sheriff, warden and Prison Medical Services argued Cleveland received plenty of care from medical specialists, nurses, social workers and others.

In his written ruling Monday, deGravelles said a “plausible case … has been set forth with more than the minimal particularity required by rule and precedent.”

Franz Borghardt, one of the attorneys for the Cleveland family, said the judge’s ruling was correct and proper.

“We have valid claims,” he said. “The family is pleased that we can move forward and seek justice for Paul.”

Attorneys for the sheriff, warden and Prison Medical Services could not be reached for comment.

Cleveland was arrested after allegedly threatening to kill an Ascension Parish judge, a prosecutor and himself. The alleged threats were made in Baton Rouge.

Cleveland’s family repeatedly telephoned prison officials during his stay at Parish Prison and voiced concern for his welfare, the suit notes.

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Information from: The Advocate, https://theadvocate.com

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