SAN DIEGO, July 29, 2019 On Friday, July 26, 2019, in the late afternoon, a San Diego Superior Court jury awarded $12,617,674 to a 32-year-old Encinitas man who alleged negligence by Sheriff's Deputies and Vista Detention Center nurses for failing to identify and treat his low sodium and his traumatic brain injury that he suffered while detained. The plaintiff was represented by trial attorney Robert F. Vaage of San Diego.
David Collins sued the County of San Diego, its Sheriff's Deputies Matthew Chavez and David Sanchez, along with Vista Detention Center nurses Roela Carolino and Johnathan Symmonds for negligence when they arrested him for being drunk in public on November 18, 2016. At the time, he actually had a condition called hyponatremia caused by very low sodium. His symptoms included slurred speech, trouble walking, and hallucinations. He had asked for paramedics. Instead, the deputies hauled him off to jail.
The jury found that the deputies were negligent when they arrested Mr. Collins and transported him to the Vista Detention Center and that the nurses did not properly assess him.
During his detention, he fell, twice, striking his head, causing a brain bleed and contusion. He was not transported to the hospital right away. By the time he reached the hospital, his sodium levels were critical. When the hospital physicians tried to raise his sodium for fear of the consequences from the head trauma, he developed a further brain injury called osmotic demyelination syndrome or ODS. The brain injury to the frontal lobe permanently affected his judgment and insight, and the ODS affected his mobility and speech. Both were preventable had Mr. Collins been transported to the hospital by the sheriff's deputies or the paramedics either before his arrest or right after he fell in the jail.
David Collins v. County of San Diego, et al.
San Diego Superior Court Case No. 37-2017-00028981-CU-PN-CTL