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Family sues Refugio County, sheriff over wrongful death of loved one

By Gheni_Platenburg
Nov. 12, 2011 at 5:12 a.m.
Updated Nov. 13, 2011 at 5:13 a.m.


Outraged over the death of their loved one in the Refugio County jail, a Corpus Christi man's wife and ex-wife are suing Refugio County and its sheriff.

Plaintiffs Nancy Smith-Frahm and Kathleen Frahm filed the wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of Jeffrey Charles Frahm in federal court in October.

Smith-Frahm is the widow of Jeffrey Charles Frahm, and Kathleen Frahm is the mother of Jeffrey Frahm's son, Aaron J. Frahm.

Refugio County Sheriff Robert Bolcik and deputies Phillip Jaramillo and John Bland also are named as defendants in the lawsuit.

The plaintiffs allege the defendants ignored Frahm's medical condition while he was an inmate at the county jail, which ultimately led to his death.

Messages left by the Advocate for the women and their attorney, as well as the defendants and their attorney, were not returned.

On Nov. 3, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiffs' claims, arguing they had failed to properly state their claim.

In layman's terms, the women failed to present sufficient facts that would indicate any violations occurred or that they are entitled to a court ruling.

A ruling has not been made on the motion.

On Oct. 13, 2009, Jeffrey Frahm was traveling from Corpus Christi to Katy to see the home his wife had rented for the couple, according to the lawsuit.

It was rainy that day.

As he was traveling through Refugio, his car veered off the road and landed in a ditch.

After a wrecker pulled the car from the ditch, a police officer allowed Frahm to leave.

Later on down the road, Frahm had to slam on his brakes to avoid a collision with a jack-knifed 18-wheeler ahead of him.

For the second time that day, Frahm's car landed in a ditch.

However, instead of being allowed to leave again, the police arrested Frahm on suspicion of driving while intoxicated and took him to the Refugio County jail.

After learning her husband was in jail, Smith-Frahm contacted Department of Public Safety Trooper Blake Chapman and told him that her husband had a seizure disorder, and he needed to be given his medication, according to the lawsuit.

The trooper said no medication was found during the arrest. She told the trooper that her husband needed to be supervised for his medical condition, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit contends that while in jail, Frahm complained to Jaramillo and Bland that he needed medical attention, but he did not receive any.

Frahm was found passed out in his cell floor later that day.

He was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead from severe head trauma. The lawsuit maintains the trauma was caused by a fall while having a seizure.

The plaintiffs allege the defendants deprived Frahm of his Fourth, Eighth and Fifth Amendment rights by failing to provide medial care despite knowing about his medical needs and by Bolcik, Jaramillo and Bland's failure to properly train and supervise their deputies.

The lawsuit contends Refugio County is liable because it sanctioned the practice of ignoring the serious medical needs of inmates.

The plaintiffs are seeking damages for physical and emotional injury and emotional distress.

They are also seeking punitive damages.

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