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CVRJ Responds to Lawsuit Over Death of Inmate

Posted: Updated: Aug 21, 2015 12:01 PM
ORANGE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) -

The Central Virginia Regional Jail (CVRJ) is firing back at the family suing them for millions of dollars. Lawyers for the jail and its superintendent are asking a federal judge to dismiss the wrongful death lawsuit.

CVRJ denies it subjected prisoner Shawn Christopher Berry to what the inmate's mother calls “torture,” eventually leading to his death on August 9, 2014.

Berry’s mother, Sherry Lynn Thornhill, filed suit earlier this summer. She says her son died less than three days after arriving at the jail on drug and fraud charges, and that jail workers didn't properly treat him for withdrawal effects. However, CVRJ says those complaints are "false, and deliberately misleading.

The jail "denies the allegations" and says in some cases, that the suit lacks "sufficient facts" to even deny.

In court documents, the jail says, "the Medical Examiner of Virginia concluded in an autopsy dated October 17, 2014, that Berry died accidentally from the adverse effects of heroin and ethanol." CVRJ is also releasing handwritten incident reports from the time Berry was at the jail. Those reports describe the inmate becoming sick, and treatment administered by jail workers.

The family of Shawn C. Berry is asking for a trial by jury and at least $10 million in damages.

From here, a federal judge in Charlottesville will have to hear arguments from both sides at a motions hearing and then decide whether or not to dismiss this suit.

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