A federal judge denied Bedford County, Tennessee’s request for a summary judgment in a wrongful death case filed against the county, suggesting that the credibility of one of the county’s witnesses may be compromised. The county had requested a dismissal of claims remaining in regard to the death of inmate Larry Dale Byford in 2009. Byford died of an apparent heart attack.
Byford’s sister, Doris Rollins, filed the wrongful death suit against the county as well as against Donna Delrio, a nurse at the jail, over her brother’s death. Rollins claims in her suit that Byford was denied necessary medical care, and that this lead directly to his later death at Vanderbilt Medical Center.
Federal Judge Harry S. Mattice denied the county’s motion to dismiss the remainder of the case, and further denied the county’s request to strike the testimony of numerous witnesses. Mattice cited repeated errors and inconsistencies in the testimony and documentation provided by the county and the jail regarding their roles in the case. The judge was quoted as saying he would overlook the first errors he saw as one-time mistakes “if not for the fact that the Court subsequently discovered that both parties’ Statements of Undisputed and Material Facts are riddled with errors — typographical, factual, and otherwise.”
The judge had attempted to construct a timeline of events regarding the case so he could rule on the summary judgment, but due to the quantity of errors and the sheer volume of material to examine, he decided that a summary judgment was not an appropriate decision.
Further, according to the judge, the county was relying heavily on nurse Delrio’s testimony and written records as rebuttals to Rollins’ arguments, but “discrepancies appear repeatedly throughout the disputes over nurse Delrio’s accounts of her understanding of Byford’s condition and her responses to the same.”
The case is set to go forward, and the first trial date has been scheduled for November 1st.