HUNTSVILLE — In response to a federal lawsuit alleging that an inmate died because he was denied treatment at the Scott County Jail, Sheriff Ronnie Phillips on Monday said the inmate was not denied treatment during the time he was incarcerated at the facility.

Donna Jean Sexton-Pemberton alleges in the lawsuit, filed July 20 in U.S. District Court in Knoxville, that her son, Benny Shane Pemberton, died because he was denied medical treatment during the two weeks he was housed at the Scott County Justice Center in Huntsville.

Pemberton’s lawsuit, filed on her behalf by Knoxville attorney Lance K. Baker, was introduced exactly one year after her son’s death. It names as defendants Scott County Government, Phillips, numerous employees of the Sheriff’s Department, as well as Correctional Healthcare Inc., the firm that contracts with Scott County to provide medical services at the jail.

The 58-page lawsuit details at great lengths allegations that Pemberton was infected with MRSA, and that his symptoms became progressively worse over a two-week period until he was rushed by ambulance to a Knoxville hospital after being found unresponsive in his cell. He died the same day. Baker wrote in the complaint that Pemberton was denied medical treatment as his condition worsened, and that corrections officers at the jail laughed at him, claiming he was “detoxing.”

Phillips vehemently denied those accusations Monday, telling the Independent Herald that Pemberton was “not denied any kind of treatment.”

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The complete story can be found in the August 3, 2017 print edition of the Independent Herald.

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