The sister of an man charged with murder is suing St. Clair County, claiming the negligence of jail officials contributed to her brother's death. St. Clair County officials deny the allegation and are seeking the dismissal of the lawsuit.
Billy W. Burrage, 47, of Belleville, began complaining of constipation, vomiting and "heart pain" on March 12, 2012, while incarcerated at St. Clair County Jail, according to the suit. He died on March 16, 2012, after being treated at the jail infirmary and later at St. Elizabeth's Hospital.
One of Burrage's nine siblings, Helen Burrage of Belleville, is now seeking more than $200,000 from the county, Sheriff Rick Watson, and the doctor who treated Burrage, according to court documents.
Burrage had been in the jail since Feb. 17, 2009, when he was arrested and charged with first-degree murder, battery and theft in connection with the beating death of Leo Daniels. Burrage also faced a charge of mob action in connection with the severe beating of another inmate who refused to join a gang in January 2011.
The county is named in the suit for allegedly failing to convey Burrage's condition to the infirmary prior to his becoming unresponsive. One of the reasons county attorneys claim the suit should be dismissed is there is "no specific mandate for how to handle an allegedly infirmed prisoner." Because jail staff made a "good faith judgment call" on whether to monitor and transfer Burrage, their actions are granted immunity under state law, the attorneys argue in court documents.
The lawsuit alleges the doctor, Vipin Shah with Wexford Health Sources, failed to diagnose Burrage and monitor his condition. Shah and Wexford Health deny the claim and are seeking a jury trial.
Burrage had a host of convictions dating back to 1988, including resisting or obstructing a peace officer, battery, theft, and aggravated assault.