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Constance Grove Diedrich, 53
Tuscaloosa, Alabama
September 01, 1999

Agencies: Tuscaloosa County Sheriff's Office Alabama

Last updated: 8 months ago

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In 2002, the family of a woman who died from cardiac arrhythmia while incarcerated at the county jail filed a lawsuit that was eventually dismissed.

Constance Grove Diedrich, 53, was arrested in September 1999 for failing to pay a $10 fee to the county that she owed from writing a bad check.

She had repaid Stephanie's Flowers the $71.28 she owed, but hadn't paid the county fee. A deputy arrested her at her home at 10 p.m. one night as she prepared for bed.

Because she was uncooperative, jailers put Diedrich in a holding cell near the booking area. According to a sworn affidavit from a jailer, Diedrich had been pounding on the door and yelling for her medication.

The jailer, in the affadavit, recalled Diedrich's words: "Please help me, somebody help me! I need my medicine! If I don't get my medicine I'm going to have a seizure! Help me!"

According to jail policy, detention officers are not allowed to administer medication to inmates and the jail did not have a nurse on staff 24 hours a day at the time. A Tuscaloosa County Circuit Court Judge dismissed the case before it went to trial, ruling in favor of the three detention officers by concluding that there wasn't enough evidence to send the case to a jury.

It's not uncommon for inmates and former inmates to file federal lawsuits against counties and sheriff's department employees, claiming civil rights violations in jails.

There have been 41 lawsuits filed against the Tuscaloosa County Jail, administrators and detention officers since 1999, according to online records. Only three of those are active cases.

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