Terms of deal not yet disclosed in case of Felix Manus, who died a year ago after he had asthma attack on work release.
A settlement has ended a federal civil rights lawsuit over the death of an Erie County work-release inmate who suffered an asthma attack in May 2018.
Details of the settlement were not available late Friday afternoon.
But if a judge approves the settlement in U.S. District Court in Erie, it will mark the end of a case that raised questions about how officers at the county work-release center treated the inmate, 48-year-old Felix Manus.
Notice of an agreement between Manus’ estate and Erie County government was docketed on Friday afternoon, after the parties to the suit held a settlement conference before U.S. District Judge Susan Paradise Baxter. The filing does not explain the details of the settlement.
The lawyer representing Erie County, Patrick Carey, said in a voicemail that details of the agreement would be available after the judge formally approves it in court. He declined to comment further.
John Mizner, the lawyer representing Manus’ estate in the lawsuit, did not immediately respond to a phone message from the Erie Times-News.
The lawsuit, filed in July, claimed that corrections officers delayed calling 911 for emergency medical care when Manus suffered an asthma attack during a work-release shift near Edinboro on May 30, 2018. The shift involved outdoor tasks, including cutting grass, according to the suit.
Instead of calling for help, the suit claimed, officers told Manus he had to return to the work-release center at 450 E. 16th St. in Erie, about 30 minutes away, in a transport van. Surveillance videos from the work-release center, which the Erie Times-News received through a Right-to-Know request in June 2018, showed that Manus waited another 20 minutes for medical care once he arrived at the work-release center.
Manus’ family has claimed that he suffered cardiac arrest because of a lack of oxygen and never regained consciousness after the asthma attack. He died June 11 at UPMC Hamot.
The suit named as defendants Erie County; Joshua Pietras, a corrections officer; and Roger Herrmann, a lieutenant at the prison.
The suit claimed that Pietras knew Manus was having trouble breathing but still transported Manus to the work-release center in the van. Herrmann was Pietras’ supervisor, according to the complaint, and advised Pietras to return to the work-release center before calling an ambulance.
In a response filed in September, the county and the officers argued they were not responsible for any injuries or damages to Manus. According to the response, Manus signed up to perform labor at the worksite on the day of his asthma attack.
Manus was in the work-release program for failure to pay child support.
The county and the Manus estate were exchanging evidence in the lawsuit, known as discovery material, before they reached the settlement.
The plaintiffs in the civil rights lawsuit are Bryhanna Manus, Felix Manus’ daughter, and Amanda Tucholski, his longtime girlfriend, who are listed as co-administrators of his estate. The two-count complaint requested unspecified damages in excess of $75,000 at each count.
Erie County declined to comment on the settlement reached Friday.
Erie County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper’s administration made changes to the county’s inmate transportation policies in response to the incident. The policy previously did not direct corrections officers to call 911 if a medical emergency occurred during transport. The updated policy tells officers to call 911 first and await medical assistance if an inmate becomes ill.
The county also said it disciplined two corrections officers in connection with the incident, but it declined to name them or describe the discipline they received. Neither officer was fired or demoted, according to information the county provided to the Erie Times-News in response to another Right-to-Know request in June 2018.
The Erie County District Attorney’s Office announced it would not file criminal charges after a review of the case in September.
Madeleine O’Neill can be reached at 870-1728 or by email. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ETNoneill.