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Widow sues Mini-Cassia jail, others in husband's death
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Widow sues Mini-Cassia jail, others in husband's death

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Mini-Cassia Criminal Justice Center

The Mini-Cassia Criminal Justice Center is seen June 25 in Burley.

BURLEY — The widow of a Rupert man who died at the Mini-Cassia jail has filed a lawsuit.

Thomas Rettew, 38, died Jan. 17, 2019, at a hospital after he ingested methamphetamine before his arrest. The suit says jail staff failed to check on him for 95 minutes after he was put in a holding cell to detox.

The suit was filed Aug. 4 through the Wood Law Group in Idaho Falls, against the Mini-Cassia Criminal Justice Center, Minidoka County, Cassia County, Steve Jensen, Kevin Dillon, David Wells, Darwin Johnson, Laine Mansfield, Reginald Balliola, David Hirsch and John Does I-X.

The lawsuit says if the jail’s night staff would have checked on Rettew as they were required to do, they would have seen his medical distress. The jail staff was required to check on him every 15 minutes while detoxing.

Almost two hours after staff saw Rettew having a seizure, 911 was called. He was taken to the hospital and later pronounced dead.

The lawsuit says that some staff later denied knowing Rettew was detoxing despite real-time audio recordings where those employees advised others on duty about his condition.

The defendants were made aware of the results of a task force investigation on the incident, court documents say, but took no steps to correct, reprimand or discharge anyone involved and that jail employees were not trained adequately in properly caring for the serious medical needs of inmates. The suit also says evidence was wrongfully destroyed, concealed or falsified afterward.

The defendants responded to the complaint Thursday denying most points in the lawsuit saying the plaintiffs do not have a viable civil rights claim and that any damages are Rettew’s fault.

The response also claims that Rettew’s injuries existed before the incident.

A trial date has not been set.

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