The children of a Waterville man who died of a massive hemorrhage from a ruptured spleen in 2014 after reportedly crying out for medical help for several hours in a cell at Kennebec County Correctional Facility have filed a wrongful-death suit in federal court against several entities, including the jail, then-Kennebec County Sheriff Randall Liberty, then-Lincoln County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Ken Mason, and the Kennebec County commissioners.

Danielle and Dana B. Kitchin, through their Portland attorneys, Timothy E. Zerillo and John M. Burke, are seeking compensatory and punitive damages, funeral and burial expenses, future lost earnings and lost earnings capacity, costs of the lawsuit, attorneys’ fees and other relief in the case related to their father, Dana A. Kitchin, who died Dec. 12, 2014, in his jail cell.

The complaint, filed Thursday morning in U.S. District Court, District of Maine, claims the defendants “by virtue of their grossly negligent and wanton acts and omissions, directly and proximately” caused Dana A. Kitchin’s death. An autopsy performed by Dr. Kristin G. Sweeney, of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, showed Kitchin died from a “massive hemoperitoneum due to a ruptured spleen,” the complaint says.

In response to the news of the lawsuit, Kennebec County administrator Robert Devlin said in an email, “Obviously I can’t really comment on the merits of the lawsuit. Only that this is the first notice of the claim, and we are forwarding it to our insurance carrier, the Maine County Commissioner’s Association Risk Pool.”

Messages left Thursday afternoon with others at the sheriff’s office, county commissioners and Peter Marchesi, a Waterville attorney who has handled cases for the county, were not returned immediately.

Kitchin, 64, of Butler Court, Waterville, was arrested on criminal trespass charges and placed in a cell near the control center of the Augusta jail’s intake area about Dec. 10, 2014, and died Dec. 12, two days later. Inmates are subject to constant supervision in that area, where they are to be checked on every 15 minutes.


Known to corrections officials because he was jailed frequently for minor violations, Kitchin also was known by workers to have physical and mental health problems, according to the complaint.

Around Dec. 11, 2014, the second day he was at the jail, he started calling out for staff members, repeatedly banged on his cell door and cried for help, and this continued for many hours, it says.

“On information and belief, the decedent was in a great deal of pain, emotional distress and was conscious during the period that he cried out for help,” it says.

Witnesses in nearby cells saw or heard Kitchin kicking and banging on the door, or both, and crying loudly for hours for medical attention and asking to be seen by a nurse and taken to a hospital, the complaint alleges. One witness said Kitchin was ignored the whole time, with employees saying he always acted like that and that’s why they ignored him, the complaint alleges. Another witness said Kitchin’s cries for help kept inmates awake.

“The decedent’s conscious pain and suffering could have been cured by prompt medical attention,” the complaint says. “Instead, the decedent consciously and painfully bled to death internally over a period of many hours.”

Liberty and now-Kennebec County Sheriff Ken Mason are cited in the case as plaintiffs in both their individual and official capacities. The suit also lists as plaintiffs the Kennebec County commissioners, the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office, the Kennebec County Corrections Division, the Kennebec County Correctional Facility, Correctional Health Partners, LLC, and Jane and John Does, 1 through 100. The “Does” are people who work at the jail and were involved in the case but whose names are not known to the defendants but would be revealed through the discovery process.


Zerillo said Thursday in a phone interview that state police investigated the death, but he does not know the results of that investigation, though it would come out either through the discovery process or by subpoena. After the defendants are served notice of the complaint, they would file an answer, and typically the discovery process begins when each party seeks information from the other, depositions are taken and questions asked, he said. Discovery can take a long time in civil cases, with a trial occurring as long as a year or more after the complaint is filed, according to Zerillo.

“It really depends on the direction the case goes,” he said. “Obviously, the defendants might choose to resolve the case earlier or litigate the case.”

Zerillo said Kitchin’s son and daughter came to him with the case, which he calls “really sad,” as Kitchin had been taken into the jail for a minor offense and died because he did not receive the medical attention he needed.

“It was just a horrific way to die, and the family really just wants there to be some accountability for his death, because even though he was difficult at times, he was their dad and they love him and they miss him,” Zerillo said.

Kitchin’s relatives, interviewed by the Morning Sentinel after his death, described him as a good and generous man who was plagued with bipolar disorder and pain in his legs from blood clots and could be difficult when he went off his medication, but he did not deserve to die in a jail cell, ignored by the staff.

Liberty said at the time that there had been no prior indication to the jail staff that Kitchin had health problems that needed to be addressed.


Kitchin grew up in Waterville, attended Waterville schools, dropped out and went into the Army, according to his family. He worked at Harris Baking Co. in Waterville and at Ralston Purina, a chicken plant in Winslow, and was married for about 10 years, but his marriage dissolved. Afterward, he had a mental breakdown and was in VA Healthcare Systems-Togus, his sister, Joan Cuares, said at the time. She said police knew he had troubles and tried to help him.

Amy Calder — 861-9247

Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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