Speers’ case ended with $4.99M settlement

Published 9:11 am Friday, January 26, 2007

By Staff
NILES – The lawsuit involving the estate of David Speers and the Berrien County Sheriff's Department was settled on Jan. 12, 2007, for $4.99 million.
Speers, then 54, died on Aug. 23, 2002, while in custody at the Berrien County Jail in St. Joseph. He was in the facility due to a bond violation following his July 17, 2002, arrest from drunk driving in New Buffalo.
Settlement negotiations were conducted through the Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority and the attorneys for the Speers' estate. The authority determined that this case should settle in the amount of $4.99 million dollars and that amount has been paid to the estate, which concluded the case.
"While I continue to stand by the medical personnel and jail staff of the Berrien County Sheriff's Department, I am sympathetic to the children and family of David Speers because of their loss," Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey stated in a Jan. 12, 2007, release.
According to court documents filed on July 21, 2005, with the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan, family members brought suit again Berrien County, alleging sheriff's deputies and medical personnel were "grossly negligent" for not adequately addressing Speers' medical conditions.
The documents showed that police officers had noted on arrest forms that Speers had a history of delirium tremors following drinking and that he was going through alcohol withdrawal.
Speers was found not breathing in his cell at 4:30 a.m. on Aug. 23, 2002, by sheriff's deputy Barry Oliver. He and other officers performed CPR on Speers and connected him to an automatic external defibrillator while waiting for an ambulance to arrive.
Speers was pronounced dead at the scene once paramedics arrived.
Documents filed with the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals stated an autopsy performed on Speers showed he died from "chronic ethanolism" with hypertensive cardiovascular disease and atherosclerotic vascular disease cited as contributing factors.