Lawsuit claims man died at Silverdale, was resuscitated at Erlanger

Hamilton County, former sheriff both named in pair of lawsuits filed this week

Staff Photo / A van is received by a guard at Silverdale Detention Center in 2020 in Chattanooga.
Staff Photo / A van is received by a guard at Silverdale Detention Center in 2020 in Chattanooga.


A new federal lawsuit claims a man died at the Silverdale Detention Center, was resuscitated at Erlanger hospital and now believes he's a teenager and doesn't understand why he's in jail.

The lawsuit is one of two filed this week by current or former inmates of the facility. The other involved a man who claims he suffered extensive injuries after being pulled out of his bed, falling 6 feet onto a concrete floor and then being beaten.

According to a lawsuit filed by Tullahoma-based attorney Derek Jordan, his client, Montrell Jawon Franklin, now "believes himself to be 15 years old" after returning to Silverdale from Erlanger. The lawsuit filed Wednesday at the U.S. District Court in Chattanooga against former Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond and Hamilton County also names more than 50 correctional officers at Silverdale for allegedly failing to keep Franklin safe while in custody.

The lawsuit further mentions eight nurses and three doctors employed by the Alabama-based medical care provider Quality Correctional Health Care for allegedly failing to provide Franklin with care in a timely manner.

Both Hammond, who retired Aug. 31, and the county attorney's office declined to comment, citing pending litigation.

Quality Correctional Health Care could not be reached by the Chattanooga Times Free Press for a comment.

The lawsuit seeks $7.9 million in compensation for Franklin, with $2.3 million in damages and $5.6 in punitive damages.

Franklin, 25, is being held at Silverdale on a $150,000 bond on one count of first-degree premeditated murder, one count of attempted first-degree premeditated murder, one count of employing a firearm during a dangerous felony and one count of reckless endangerment, according to criminal court records.

Franklin has been awaiting trial since his 2020 arrest in connection with the June 22 shooting deaths of Robert Dowdy and Brandon Rakestraw in front of the Nine Brothers convenience store on West 38th Street in Southside.

At one point, according to the lawsuit, Franklin's mother, Rashika Crayton, was told by the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office that her son had died.

"Plaintiff's mother was then visited by HCSO deputies, who told her that her son was dead," the lawsuit said.

"Plaintiff's mother was inconsolable, but to her surprise, when she arrived at Erlanger, doctors informed her that they had managed to get plaintiff's heart beating again," the lawsuit said.

In November, Franklin called his mother, saying he wasn't feeling well and that his feet were swollen, according to the lawsuit.

"When plaintiff sought out medical attention from the nurses at Silverdale, he was not taken seriously and was told that he had simply been standing on his feet for too long," the lawsuit said. "His grandmother believed his swollen feet were indicative of a problem with his blood sugar, but Silverdale personnel failed to test for that possibility."

After another phone call from Franklin to his mother to complain about his swollen feet and saying he felt "he was becoming more ill," Silverdale staff still failed to take action, according to the lawsuit.

"The following morning, plaintiff's mother received a call from another inmate at Silverdale who claimed that she needed to head to the jail because her son was blue," the lawsuit said. "Shortly after, plaintiff's mother received another call from a different inmate who claimed that Silverdale officials waited too long to check on her son, and as a result, he was not moving and receiving chest compressions."

Franklin was taken to Erlanger, where doctors were able to resuscitate him but told Crayton "there was a 0% chance he would recover" and she should "cease life support," but she refused, according to the lawsuit.

Franklin "suffered cardiac arrest, aspiration pneumonitis, acute hypoxemic respiratory failure and was hypoglycemic," according to the lawsuit.

"Plaintiff's family believes that plaintiff's swollen feet were indicative of a problem with his blood sugar that should have been caught by Silverdale personnel prior to plaintiff needing emergency care," the lawsuit said.

After being released from Erlanger, Franklin was taken back to Silverdale, where he is said to have called Crayton and claimed to not know who she was, according to the lawsuit.

"He claimed he was in Atlanta waiting for a hamburger and fries with a friend he had not spoken with since he was 15 years old," the lawsuit said. "The next time he called, he claimed he had just finished talking to his uncle. However, that uncle had passed away nine years prior, and plaintiff had served as a pallbearer at his funeral."

"Shortly thereafter, another inmate called plaintiff's mother on plaintiff's behalf and told her that plaintiff no longer knew how to use the phone and was waiting on his 'mommy and daddy' to pick him up," the lawsuit said.

In April 2022, Franklin was allegedly stabbed twice, once in the face, the other in the chest, while using the telephone at the detention center, according to the lawsuit.

Jordan has filed multiple lawsuits against the county, Hammond and Quality Correctional Health Care this year. Most recently, Jordan filed a lawsuit in the case of an Alabama man who claimed to have been sexually assaulted while at Silverdale.

Jordan declined to comment on his recent filing.

ANOTHER LAWSUIT

In another federal lawsuit filed Monday at the U.S. District Court in Chattanooga by California-based attorney Robert Barnes, his client, Bryan Sinclair Ellis, claimed he was assaulted in April 2022 at Silverdale.

The lawsuit claims Ellis suffered injuries that amounted to $50,000 in costs. However, the lawsuit does not state what amount it is seeking in damages. Ellis' suit names the same defendants as Franklin's.

Ellis was at Silverdale for allegedly stealing $5 worth of food from Walmart and evading arrest when "three fellow inmates beat up plaintiff as he was going to bed," the lawsuit said.

"The inmates, who suspected plaintiff had taken food stashed in the cell, yanked plaintiff off the top bunk so that he fell about 6 feet onto the concrete floor, landing on his face," the lawsuit said. "Plaintiff was then beaten into unconsciousness."

Ellis suffered severe injuries to his eyes, which had to be sutured and cared for multiple times a day, according to the lawsuit, which detailed his injuries as having "about eight facial fractures to his left eye, a closed head injury and eye hematomas."

"Both of plaintiffs' eyes were swollen shut, and eye surgeon Robert Evan Levy, M.D., gave plaintiff sutures in his upper and lower left eyelids," the lawsuit said.

Ellis was due to return to Erlanger to remove the sutures in his eyes and to follow up with his injures within seven days, but that never happened, according to the lawsuit.

"Plaintiff received no follow-up care," the lawsuit said. "He wasn't given an ice pack or any pain medicine."

After Ellis' mother reached out to former Hamilton County District Attorney Neal Pinkston about his injuries, Ellis was transferred from Silverdale to the Catoosa County Jail, where Ellis was facing misdemeanor charges. Ellis was then released due to the severity of his injuries, according to the lawsuit.

"A nurse in the Catoosa County Jail looked at plaintiff's medical records on May 12 and told her supervisor he needed medical attention," the lawsuit stated. "Jail Administrator Dr. Cindy Graham released plaintiff eight days early to get medical attention."

On June 3, Ellis saw a doctor, according to the lawsuit, and was diagnosed with "cellulitis, or infection, in his left eye orbit, the bony cavity in the skull that houses the globe of the eye," and placed on an intravenous antibiotic treatment to treat the infection.

"If plaintiff hadn't sought help that day, he could have lost eyesight in his left eye, the doctor said. And, if infection had spread to the other eye -- the doctor said plaintiff could have gone permanently blind in both eyes," the lawsuit said.

Phone calls to Barnes were not immediately returned.

Contact La Shawn Pagán at lpagan@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6476.


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