December 6, 2023
A courtroom gavel. File picture

 A physician and nurse accused of negligence within the in- custody loss of life of a lady on the Las Colinas jail in Santee had been ordered Monday to face trial on involuntary manslaughter costs.

Dr. Friederike Von Lintig, 58, and nurse Danalee Pascua, 38, are charged within the loss of life of 24-year-old Elisa Serna on Nov. 11, 2019, 5 days after Serna was booked into the jail.

The defendants withstand 4 years in state jail if convicted.

Their prosecutions come as San Diego County continues to face scrutiny for the variety of in-custody deaths at its jail amenities. Eight individuals have died in native custody this 12 months, together with two within the final week.

Serna was pronounced useless shortly after she collapsed in her cell within the jail’s medical commentary unit.

Von Lintig was the doctor on obligation the day Serna died and Pascua allegedly witnessed the autumn.

Following every week of testimony and arguments Monday morning from attorneys, El Cajon Superior Court docket Choose Selena Epley dominated the case can proceed to trial.

Deputy District Lawyer John Dunlap stated the defendants had been instantly liable for Serna’s care, but failed to forestall her loss of life and moreover, contributed to her passing. The prosecutor argued Serna, who reported to jail employees that she had a historical past of drug and alcohol use, was clearly affected by withdrawal signs that warranted a extra pressing stage of medical care.

Each defendants’ attorneys stated their purchasers’ actions had been being examined with the advantage of hindsight. The attorneys additionally argued their purchasers had been offered data by different nurses and docs, who indicated Serna was in comparatively good situation and will have been faking sure signs corresponding to fainting and falling to the ground.

Proof offered throughout the listening to highlighted three cases by which medical employees was alerted to Serna’s situation on Nov. 11.

The primary time occurred early within the afternoon when Serna was being moved out of the medical commentary unit in a wheelchair and her limbs started stiffening, which prosecutors described as “seizure-like exercise.”

She was taken again into her cell and a number of employees members, together with Von Lintig, responded and examined her.

Throughout that examination, Serna’s oxygen saturation stage, which exhibits how a lot oxygen is in an individual’s bloodstream, was measured at 87%. Dr. Shaun Carstairs, an emergency doctor at Scripps Chula Vista and Rady Kids’s Hospital, testified that determine was “fairly irregular” and may have prompted nearer monitoring of Serna’s situation.

Von Lintig later informed an investigator that she believed it was a “false studying” as a result of Serna appeared awake and alert and was resistant when nurses tried to put an oxygen masks on her, based on testimony.

About two hours later, nurses witnessed Serna mendacity throughout the seat of the bathroom in her cell. A nurse requested that Von Lintig return to Serna’s cell, however she by no means did.

A number of hours later, Serna fell in her cell as Pascua was making an attempt to test her very important indicators.

Video performed in court docket final week confirmed Serna standing at her cell door, then collapsing.

After the autumn, Serna lay on the ground together with her head slumped ahead and propped up towards the wall whereas the remainder of her physique was susceptible.

Pascua and a deputy entered the cell, however later left with out transferring Serna from that place. Serna remained there for the subsequent hour as urine will be seen spreading alongside the bottom from beneath her physique.

Pascua and different deputies later re-entered the cell and Serna was pronounced useless shortly afterward.

Carstairs testified that Serna’s positioning together with her head bent ahead possible obstructed her airway and he believed that was the “proximate trigger” of her loss of life.

Pascua’s lawyer, Alicia Freeze, highlighted testimony from Serina Rognlien-Hood, the sheriff’s division director of nursing, who stated the place was not essentially life-threatening. Freeze additionally famous the county Medical Examiner’s Workplace discovering that Serna died of pure causes associated to substance abuse, with a contributing issue of early intrauterine being pregnant.

Dunlap quoted totally different testimony from Rognlien-Hood, by which she acknowledged that 911 ought to have been referred to as after Serna fell. He additionally stated Pascua was knowledgeable by a deputy that Serna had urinated herself, but didn’t reply to the cell for one more half hour.

“To depart Elisa in that place was past easy negligence, past gross negligence. Fairly frankly, it was inhumane,” the prosecutor stated.

Certainly one of Von Lintig’s attorneys, Dana Grimes, argued Von Lintig was informed by others that Serna gave the impression to be enhancing. Although the data she obtained from different medical employees could have turned out to be incorrect, Grimes argued Von Lintig solely noticed Serna starting on Nov. 11 and was counting on data others offered her.

Grimes argued one other physician on the jail who examined Serna earlier than Nov. 11 bore extra accountability for not alerting Von Lintig to the seriousness of Serna’s situation.

Dunlap stated that no matter Von Lintig was informed by others, she was conscious Serna had been vomiting, was dehydrated, and had the low oxygen saturation price.

Serna’s loss of life can be the topic of a federal wrongful loss of life lawsuit filed towards the county by her household, which alleges jail medical employees failed to supply correct care regardless of understanding her substance abuse historical past. Von Lintig, Pascua and a number of other others are additionally listed as defendants within the ongoing lawsuit.

— Metropolis Information Service