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L.A. County Could Settle Juvenile Hall Case Of Late 14-Year-Old Who Complained Of Pain For Several Days Before Being Hospitalized

Los Padrinos.
Los Padrinos.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday will likely approve a $400,000 settlement to the family of a 14-year-old who died after at least eight days of showing signs of either a headache, a toothache or a high temperature without being brought before a doctor at county-run Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall.

In fact, 10 days after the boy first complained of a toothache, and after at least two days of 103-plus degree temperatures, the teen was admitted to County-USC Medical Center, where he ultimately died.

The boy, Tremayne Cole, was placed at Los Padrinos for reasons unknown on Feb. 5, 2008. By Feb. 9 and each day after, through Feb. 13, he complained of pain, mostly toothaches and headaches, according to county documents.

Incredibly, county records were incomplete for the dates Feb. 14 through Feb. 16. "The records do not show whether Tremayne was seen by a nurse or a physician," reads one county document.

On Feb. 18 the boy had a temperature of 102.7; later that day it was 104.5; on the next day, although the temp went down to 97.4 degrees, it went back up to 103.1. Cole told a staffer, "My legs are numb and I'm shivering," according to a county report.

That's the day he was finally admitted to County-USC, where doctors determined he had meningitis. Staff tried to drain off infectious fluid so it would relieve pressure on his brain, but it was no use: Cole went into a coma on Feb. 24 and on March 4 he was declared dead.

He was described as 3 feet, 11 inches tall and weighing 79 pounds.

A coroner's examination determined the cause of death was bacterial meningitis, likely contracted through sinusitis.

Some of the mistakes made by the county, as indicated by its own "Summary Corrective Action Plan" documents (PDF) in the case, include a lack of a single, cohesive medical record for a patient, hand-written medical observations, and a policy that appeared to hinder seeing a dentist or doctor while the juvenile was assigned to "bed rest."

Fixes, including hiring new nursing supervisors, have already been made. But the case could illustrate why the county Probation Department, which runs Los Padrinos, has drawn scrutiny and lawsuits.

The settlement is recommended by the Los Angeles County Claims Board and was on the supervisors' agenda for Tuesday.


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