Settlement in McLaughlin SLO County Jail death case finalized

February 7, 2020


A San Luis Obispo judge has finalized a settlement that was reached and then disputed in the case of a 60-year-old man who died while in SLO County Jail.

The family of Kevin Lee McLaughlin will recieve nearly $42,000 from San Luis Obispo County after unsuccessfully disputing the settlement.

In 2017, amid allegations of neglect at the county jail, McLaughlin died of a heart attack. Prior to his death, McLaughlin told jail staffers he needed to go to the hospital, but his request was denied. Less than an hour later, he was found dead.

Dorothy McLaughlin, the decedent’s 85-year-old mother, filed a lawsuit against San Luis Obispo County in 2018, alleging negligence that resulted in death.

Last fall, the county offered to settle the lawsuit for $41,850, and Dorothy McLaughlin, wanting to avoid stress of a trial, accepted the proposal, which was subject to approval by the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors, according to the settlement agreement.

But on Oct. 22, before the supervisors voted on the proposed settlement, Dorothy McLaughlin’s attorney, James McKiernan, withdrew his client’s acceptance.

At the time, McKiernan said Dorothy McLaughlin would continue on with the court process to see that justice is served for her deceased son and other county jail inmates whose medical complaints have been disregarded. Kevin McLaughlin was given aspirin and sent back to his cell where he died 30 minutes later, despite showing classic symptoms of a heart attack, McKiernan said.

The county board of supervisors decided to approve the settlement agreement. McKiernan then argued his client rejected the agreement before the board approved it.

On Thursday, Judge Ginger Garrett issued a tentative ruling granting a motion by the county to enforce the settlement agreement.

In her tentative ruling, Garrett stated there was no provision in the settlement agreement that made it non-binding until receiving approval from the board of supervisors. If the plaintiffs had sought to establish a revocation period or a deadline for board approval, they should have included one in the agreement, Garrett wrote.

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Shame on you your honor, Shame on you!