Family of inmate who died in jail sues Snohomish County

by: Graham Johnson Updated:

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Snohomish County, Wash. - A civil rights lawsuit filed Wednesday over the death of a jail inmate includes serious new allegations against Snohomish County. Michael Saffioti, 22, was in jail for an outstanding misdemeanor marijuana possession warrant in July 2012 when he collapsed and died because of a severe dairy allergy.

Video obtained by KIRO 7 shows Saffioti questioning the breakfast he was fed in Snohomish County jail module E-4 that ultimately killed him. Saffioti suffered from extreme dairy allergies and took regular pains to protect himself. Because he had been at the Snohomish County Jail previously, guards had a medical file on him. "Our theory is that they absolutely knew about Michael's medical needs," said Cheryl Snow, the attorney for Saffioti's mother, Rose, said in November 2013 when she filed notice of a $10 million claim against the county.

Wednesday's lawsuit does not specify monetary damages, saying the amount will be proven at trial. The lawsuit names the deputy working in the unit, Lennon Del Rosario, claiming when Saffioti complained about feeling ill from eating oatmeal, the deputy sent him back to his cell. The complaint says the video appears to show Saffioti repeatedly hitting his emergency call button and the deputy repeatedly turning it off.

 The lawsuit says when the deputy did call for medical assistance, those calls were ignored by four nurses in the medical ward who were just sitting at their desks talking.  The four nurses, Jeffrey Langsam, Lauren Kooiman, Lynda Simon and Betty Marlin are all named as defendants in the lawsuit, along with Del Rosario and Snohomish County. The lawsuit says the nurses didn't respond until about 30 minutes later, after Saffioti was found slumped over in his cell.  Medics were called.  They took Saffioti to an Everett hospital where he was pronounced dead.

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