Nearly $7 Million Settlement Paid Out In Terrill Thomas Dehydration Death Civil Rights Case

May 28, 2019

Milwaukee County and the company formerly in charge of jail health services have paid $6.75 million to settle a lawsuit from the family of Terrill Thomas. He died of dehydration in the Milwaukee County Jail in 2016.

Attorneys for Thomas call the settlement one of the largest ever in Wisconsin for a jail death. It came after Thomas’ family brought the civil rights suit against Milwaukee County and Armor Correctional Health Services, Inc., a Florida-based company that was in charge of inmate care at the time of Thomas' death. The settlement was finalized in March, but not publicized until Tuesday. The lawsuit was dismissed earlier this month.

Police arrested Thomas in April 2016 for gun-related offenses, which occurred when he was having a mental breakdown, according to his family. At the jail, staffers turned water to Thomas’ cell off as punishment because he had flooded his previous cell. Jail staff never turned the water back on, and he died a week later—having lost 34 pounds, or 10% of his body weight, according to the lawsuit.

Three jail staffers have been sentenced on criminal charges relating to the death, and charges are still pending against Armor Correctional Health Services.