Mother of suicidal jail inmate loses Supreme Court appeal

May 16, 2013 

— Bradley J. Munroe was 19 in September 2008 when he used a bedsheet to hang himself in the Ada County Jail.

His mother, Rita Hoaglund, filed a tort claim regarding the suicide in November 2008. In early 2009, she filed the first of four complaints alleging - among other things - a violation of her and her son's constitutional rights. Hoaglund alleged jail officials were deliberately indifferent toward Munroe's medical needs.

Fourth District Judge Ronald Wilper ruled that Hoaglund could only sue regarding an alleged violation of her own constitutional rights, then concluded that the officials all were either not deliberately indifferent while caring for Munroe or were immune from such a lawsuit. Wilper also ordered Hoaglund to pay the defendants more than $93,000 for their legal costs - though not their attorney fees.

Both sides appealed the district court's judgment. In a unanimous Thursday ruling, the Idaho Supreme Court declared that Hoaglund didn't do enough to establish harm to her own rights, rendering the rest of her suit moot. But the Supreme Court also ordered Wilper to revisit the $93,000 Hoaglund owes, concluding that the judge's initial ruling didn't go far enough to justify the sum.

The case now returns to Ada County 4th District Court.

Munroe, of Melba, was in jail because he had been accused of holding up a Boise convenience store. According to court documents, he killed himself while alone in a cell after he requested protective custody due to fears that other inmates wished to kill him. Court documents also detail concerns that Munroe would consider suicide, which led him to be evaluated by jail staff.

Munroe had spent time in the Ada County Jail on four prior occasions in the year before his death.

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