Article Image
Mediation Could Settle Lawsuit over Jail Suicide

Tuesday, July, 19, 2016

Mediation could bring an end to the $10 million lawsuit filed against Robertson County after a robbery suspect committed suicide in jail in 2012. The lawsuit was filed by Sherry Burns, mother of Matthew Burns, in Nashville’s US District Court. The suit claims the identification and treatment policies of the jail led to indifference concerning her son’s mental health, which ultimately resulted in death. Burns claims the jail does not have a procedure in place that ensures suicidal inmates will be protected.


Robertson County mayor and a spokesperson from the Sherriff’s Office did not comment on the case because it is still pending. US Magistrate Judge Joe Brown handed down a new order for mediation on June 17. Earlier in June another judge denied a motion that would have ended the case. Attorneys for the county argued there was no case and asked for a summary judgment.


Burns hung himself in jail after being arrested for allegedly robbing The Farmer’s Bank in Ridgetop. He would been in jail for four days and had a history of mental problems that included depression, bi-polar disorder self-abuse and previous suicide attempts according to his mother’s lawsuit. He was also taking medication to treat his illnesses. Burns was 23 at the time of his death.


Allegedly, the jail did not properly diagnose Burns’ illness under the medical section of his intake forms and according to the lawsuit he was deprived of his medication while in custody. The lawsuit states the jail was aware of Burns’ illnesses after three phone calls from his family members and attorney were made to the jail within hours of his arrest.