Inmate David Vargas, 35, Died Following Medical Emergency At Los Angeles County Jail

pexels-ron-lach-10474996LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA (February 28, 2024) – A 35-year-old inmate identified as David Vargas has tragically died while staying at a Los Angeles County jail.

Los Angeles County officials are saying that the incident began on Wednesday. Correctional officers noticed that David Vargas was in medical distress.

Medical staff were called to help the inmate, who was then transported to the Intensive Care Unit of a nearby hospital. Despite life-saving measures, David Vargas was pronounced dead at the hospital.

His medical cause of death was attributed to the effects of fentanyl by the LA Medical Examiner. A full investigation remains ongoing at this time.

Liability For Los Angeles County Inmate Deaths

Drug overdoses remain one of the leading causes of inmate deaths. Fentanyl has proven to be particularly dangerous for inmates. According to Health & Justice, “Fentanyl and related compounds have recently saturated the illicit drug supply in the United States, leading to unprecedented rates of fatal overdose. Individuals who are incarcerated are particularly vulnerable, as the burden of opioid use disorder is disproportionately higher in this population, and tolerance generally decreases during incarceration.” Jails should take a number of measures in order to prevent inmate deaths due to fentanyl toxicity.

  • Jails should ensure that all inmates have a thorough medical screening.
  • Jails should train staff members to recognize the signs of a fentanyl overdose.
  • Jails should have emergency plants in the event an inmate is overdosing.
  • Jails should be stacked with Nalaxone, which can be used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

A jail or private healthcare provider could be liable if an inmate dies in their care. Jails have a legal obligation to provide all inmates with reasonably adequate care for all of their health conditions. This includes acute care in the event of an inmate overdose. When a jail is deliberately indifferent to the serious medical needs of an inmate, this could form the basis of a constitutional claim. There are many different ways that a jail may have failed to properly care for an inmate going through an overdose.

  • A jail may have failed to perform a wellness check, which would have revealed an inmate was in distress.
  • A jail may have failed to give an inmate Nalaxone.
  • A jail may have failed to perform CPR on an inmate.
  • A jail may have failed to get an inmate to the hospital in a timely manner.

A large portion of inmate deaths are completely preventable. This is particularly true with respect to deaths due to drug overdoses. Los Angeles County jails, in particular, have been flooded with illicit drugs, including fentanyl. It is important for inmates and their families to understand that they do have rights. The family of any inmate who died in jail may have legal recourse through a civil claim.


Investigating Los Angeles County Inmate Deaths

We at the Sehat Law Firm extend our deepest condolences to the family of David Vargas. Any person who may have more information about what happened should reach out to investigators. It is our sincere hope that steps are taken to prevent other tragedies like this.

Do you need more information about a Los Angeles County inmate’s death? Our team of civil rights attorneys is here to help. We care deeply that inmates are aware of their rights and that jails are upholding constitutional standards. Whether you just have legal questions or need any type of support, we are here for you. You are always welcome to contact us anytime at (949) 825-5200.


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