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Clearfield facing federal lawsuit

Coalport woman died in prison custody in 2019

The mother of a 36-year-old Coalport woman who died nearly two years ago while an inmate in the Clearfield County prison has claimed in a federal lawsuit that a county probation officer and prison officials failed to summon medical help when her daughter complained she wasn’t feeling well.

The lawsuit was filed earlier this month in the U.S. District Court in Johnstown by Trina A. Corson of Coalport on behalf of the estate of her daughter, Kristen E. Corson, who was 36 when found unresponsive in her prison cell during the early morning of Oct. 11, 2019.

Trina Corson is represented by Philadelphia attorney Dylan T. Hastings.

The lawsuit states that a county probation officer visited Kristen Corson at her home on the morning of

Oct. 10, 2019, to conduct a random urine test, which was part of her probation.

At the time, Corson complained she wasn’t feeling well and could not complete the test.

The officer contended Corson was willfully refusing to take the drug-screening test and placed her under arrest.

Although continuing to complain she wasn’t feeling well, Corson was taken to the county prison for failing to comply with the test.

The lawsuit stated the officer did not inform prison officials of Corson’s possible illness.

However, Corson, according to the lawsuit, by that point was “visibly ill.”

She exhibited labored breathing, and she related her condition to a prison officer in charge and other officers.

The officers “ignored (Corson’s) serious medical need and her complaints,” the lawsuit charges.

Corson was then placed in a holding cell with several other female inmates.

She continued to exhibit symptoms of “illness and labored breathing,” which were not addressed, the lawsuit continues.

At 2 a.m. the next day she was found dead in the holding cell.

The autopsy showed that her death was caused by pneumonia.

She left behind two children.

The defendants in the lawsuit include Clearfield County, the probation officer, a former prison warden and multiple corrections officers.

Clearfield County is aware of the lawsuit, but County Commissioner John Sobel stated that he could not comment on pending legal action.

The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Stephanie Haines in Johnstown.

It has also been referred to the federal court’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Program to determine if the issues can be settled out of court.

The lawsuit contends the county and its employees violated Corson’s constitutional rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth amendments.

According to the civil rights charges, the county failed to properly train its workers to address medical emergencies, and the suit contends the county has a history of “failing to provide timely and/or medical evaluations to its ill inmates and/or those suffering from medical emergencies.”

In addition to the federal civil rights charges, the lawsuit asks for damages under Pennsylvania’s wrong death and survival laws.

Criminal records show that Corson was on probation for firearms not to be carried without a license.

The lawsuit is the second this year addressing a death in the Clearfield County Prison.

In July The daughter of Michael J. Duffalo sued the county as the result of his suicide that occurred in March 2019.

Duffalo, 37, was initially arrested for a domestic incident in Jefferson County but was transferred to the Clearfield Prison as the result of an outstanding arrest warrant.

Hastings also represents the Duffalo family.

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