Snohomish County settles jail death lawsuit for $2.4 million

EVERETT — Snohomish County authorized a settlement Monday with the family of Michael Saffioti, a young Mukilteo man who died at the county jail three years ago.

County officials said they were paying $620,000 to end the case.

An attorney for parents Rosemary and Giovanni Saffioti called the county’s figure misleading. The total amount of the settlement is four times higher.

“There was a global settlement discussed of $2.4 million,” said attorney Cheryl Snow of Seattle. “The plaintiffs are concerned about the gross misrepresentation of the amount that’s claimed to be paid by Snohomish County and its insurers.”

Defendants in the case included the county, individual corrections employees and a food services provider. County deputy prosecutors confirmed the settlement total that Snow cited, saying most of the amount is being covered by insurance carriers.

The settlement stems from a lawsuit that Rosemary Saffioti filed in Superior Court in 2014 alleging her son’s death was the result of deliberate indifference among some jail staff, among other problems. The case was later moved to federal court.

“The death of Mr. Saffioti was a tragedy,” Sheriff Ty Trenary said Monday in a prepared statement. “To own up for our mistakes and to cover litigation costs, the county has paid $620,000 in this settlement.”

The County Council voted to authorize the legal agreement at the end of its regular meeting on Monday.

Saffioti was 22 years old when he turned himself in on a Lynnwood misdemeanor marijuana possession warrant on July 2, 2012. He was a Lynnwood prisoner, but county jail officials agreed to detain him because the city lockup was unable to adequately address his medical issues.

Saffioti was taking a number of medications, suffered from asthma and was severely allergic to dairy products, according to court papers. He collapsed after eating breakfast a few hours after he was booked into the county jail.

Prosecutors reviewed the case, but decided against filing criminal charges against any jail employees.

The family’s lawsuit details allegations of multiple ways jail officials knew, or should have known, that Saffioti risked death from anaphylactic shock. It said that several jail employees, including a corrections officer and four jail nurses, ignored her son’s medical needs when he began to suffer an apparent allergic reaction.

The complaint references email from a supervisor raising questions about the quality of care provided by jail nurses. It also recounts findings from outside corrections experts, including the National Institute of Corrections, that confirmed substandard medical care for inmates.

Executive John Lovick was sheriff at the time Saffioti died.

Since taking over as sheriff in mid-2013, Trenary has overseen a number of improvements involving the medical housing unit, booking procedures and more. The sheriff also has taken steps to prevent inmates with serious health conditions from being booked for non-violent misdemeanors.

Some of those reforms were spelled out in a settlement the county reached last year over a different wrongful death at the jail. The county agreed to pay $1.3 million to resolve a damage claim filed on behalf of Lyndsey Lason. The 27-year-old died slowly of a lung infection in 2011. Most of the settlement went to pay to meet the needs of her son.

A fight for access to records about Saffioti’s death also resulted in a separate settlement last year.

Rosemary Saffioti agreed to a $95,000 payment from the county to settle the case stemming from her attorneys’ search for jail-security footage from the morning the young man collapsed and died. They filed public records requests for copies of the video, but were initially told it didn’t exist. They pressed again for disclosure after learning that the tapes were referenced in the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office death investigation. The lawsuit filed in King County Superior Court ultimately got the jail security footage they were seeking.

A more recent public records case at the jail resulted in a $600,000 settlement for a corrections deputy.

Charles Carrell alleged that the sheriff’s office did not supply him any records for four years after receiving his request in 2010. He also accused the sheriff’s office of bungling deadlines and otherwise violating state public records laws. The case was settled June 30. Trenary said he’s since made changes in the jail’s public disclosure proceedures.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465, nhaglund@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @NWhaglund.

Talk to us

More in Local News

A SWAT team responds during an 8-hour standoff between police and a man brandishing a knife at a home in south Edmonds on Sunday night. (Edmonds Police Department)
9-hour Edmonds standoff with knife-wielding man ends in arrest

The man reportedly threatened to kill his family. Police spent hours trying to get him to come outside.

Security footage depicting an armed robbery at Buds Garage in Everett on Tuesday, Jan.18, 2022. (Contributed photo)
Everett pot shop robbed twice; others targeted in recent months

Armed robbers have hit Buds Garage off Everett Avenue twice since December.

Police: Everett man left family member with life-threatening injuries

An Everett man, 23, was in jail on $100,000 bail after being accused of confronting women and attacking a relative.

The Snow Goose Transit bus at one of it's stops outside of the Lincoln Hill Retirement Community on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022 in Stanwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Catch a free bus between Camano, Stanwood, Smokey Point

Snow Goose Transit runs on weekdays, offering 15 stops and — for those with mobility issues — door-to-door service.

Cassandra Lopez-Shaw
Snohomish County judge accused of ‘needlessly’ exposing staff to COVID

Adam Cornell argues the incident reinforces a need to suspend jury trials, as omicron wreaks havoc.

Connie L. Bigelow at her store Miniatures & More in Edmonds on Tuesday. (Janice Podsada / The Herald)
Woman who lit her own Edmonds doll store on fire gets house arrest

Connie Bigelow, 54, was sentenced Friday in federal court for lighting her business on fire to collect insurance money.

The Washington National Guard arrived Friday at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett to help with a surge of COVID-19 cases at the hospital. (Providence) 20220121
State offers free home tests; National Guard arrives in Everett

Supply is limited at a new online portal, but Washingtonians can now order five free rapid COVID tests.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ is no longer required reading in Mukilteo

The School Board on Monday voted unanimously to remove it from the list for ninth-graders, at the urging of teachers.

A rendering of the Compass Health Broadway Campus Redevelopment looks southwest at the building. The facility is planned for 82,000 square feet with a behavioral health clinic with a 16-bed inpatient center and a 16-bed crisis triage center. (Ankrom Moisan Architects)
Demolition eyed in spring for Compass Health Broadway campus

The Everett-based behavioral health care provider wants to replace the 1920-built Bailey Center with a modern facility.

Most Read