Singleton Schreiber, a law firm with offices throughout the western United States, recently filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of a mother whose 16-year-old son died of a fentanyl overdose while in custody at a San Diego juvenile detention center.
The lawsuit claims that Brenda Arguelles' son, who has not been identified due to being a minor, was set to be released on September 26, 2021, but was checked into the on-site clinic on September 5 due to allegations of fentanyl use and vomiting.
He was returned to his cell on September 6, but his mother was never made aware of the incident by the juvenile hall officials.
The boy allegedly entered the cell of another detainee who was an alleged fentanyl dealer at the facility on September 7, and was found dead from a fentanyl overdose the next morning.
The lawsuit alleges a variety of issues regarding Brenda's son, including the absence of proper safety checks at juvenile hall, which may have saved the boy's life, the ability of detainees to buy/sell fentanyl inside juvenile hall, and the poorly maintained health and prescription medications of the boy, which were poorly communicated to his mother.
Brenda also claims that no one responded to multiple calls she made to the facility about her son.
This 16-year-old boy was the oldest of four children in the Arguelles family. He was initially taken into custody due to drug and alcohol abuse and was given a psychiatric assessment at the juvenile detention center.
He was diagnosed with acute PTSD and adjustment disorder and was prescribed medication by the staff to help with these issues. He was even enrolled in a drug-related treatment group while in the custody of San Diego County.
The lawsuit, which has been filed against the County of San Diego, hopes to provide a way for Brenda to get her answers and also holds the County accountable for those who failed in their duties to care for her son while he was in their custody.
"Ms. Arguelles has been grieving the loss of her son for almost 1 ½ years without answers as to how this tragedy happened when her son was supposed to be under close supervision while he was in juvenile hall," said Kimberly Trimble, Counsel at Singleton Schreiber.
"We hope that this lawsuit provides a way for Ms. Arguelles to get her answers and also holds the County accountable for those who failed in their duties to care for her son while he was in their custody."
The case has been filed in U.S. District Court, Southern District of California, Case No. 23-cv-0321-H-AGS.
We want to hear from you. Do you think the County of San Diego should be held accountable for the death of this young boy? What measures should be put in place to prevent incidents like this from happening again? Let us know your thoughts.
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