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Lawsuit claims jail failed to care for woman who died

A view of the Portsmouth City Jail (Google Maps)

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (AP) — The mother of a woman who died in a Virginia jail claims the staff failed to care for her daughter as she went through heroin withdrawal.

The Virginian-Pilot reported Thursday that Lynda Johnston is suing the former sheriff of Portsmouth as well as the company provides health services to jail inmates. Johnston is seeking a total of $15 million.

Kendra Nelson entered the Portsmouth City Jail in 2016 after being arrested on outstanding warrants. The lawsuit claims the staff failed to take seriously her withdrawal symptoms and at one point said Nelson was “faking it” because she wanted medication.

Former Sheriff Bill Watson told WAVY-TV that his staff did everything properly. He said he was sorry for the family, but said Nelson’s “addiction caused her death.”

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