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Joshua Bittner Died By Suicide: Vermont Judge Dismissed The Lawsuit Filed By The Family

The lawsuit filed by the family of the man who died by suicide got dismissed. 

Joshua Bittner Died By Suicide: Vermont Judge Dismissed The Lawsuit Filed By The Family (Photo: Gulf News)

A lawsuit filed by the estate of the man who died by suicide in the Northern State Correctional Facility in Newport in 2017 was dismissed by a Vermont judge. 

Joshua Bittner’s family alleged in the lawsuit that the Vermont Department of Corrections and Centurion Managed Care, the state’s then-contracted healthcare provider, were to blame for a “failure to communicate” that led to the death of Joshua Bittner, who died by suicide.

In a recent 14-page decision, Franklin County Superior Civil Court Judge Samual Hoar granted summary judgment to the defendants in the lawsuit, which included the prison department, Centurion, and several individual workers from each organization. 

Hoar’s decision, rendered in July but not yet posted to the Vermont Judiciary website, stated that the defendants are liable for the verdict as an aspect legal matter on all allegations. 

The complaint was filed by Renee Bittner, who served as Joshua Bittner, who died by suicide, estate administrator.

According to Bittner’s estate representative David Sleigh, there are currently no intentions to challenge Hoar’s decision to the Vermont Supreme Court. 

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The state correctional department’s spokesman, Haley Sommer, stated on Tuesday that the organization declined to speculate on the decision.

Bittner, 26, was found hanged in a cell on the evening of March 2, 2017, at the Northern State Correctional Facility in Newport. According to records, he passed away the following day at the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington. 

Bittner, who died by suicide,  was incarcerated at the Northwest State Correctional Facility in St. Albans before being transferred to the Newport prison.

Sleigh stated in an interview that they knew his mental health issues well. 

In addition, Sleigh stated at the time that it is unclear why Bittner, who died by suicide, was sent from one jail to another and that probably in the transfer, the staff at Northwest did not tell the personnel at Northern about Bittner’s mental health issues, his past thoughts of self-harm and several other things.

Sleigh claimed Bittner deteriorated and hanged himself as a result of his untreated mental health difficulties.

The uncontested record suggests that the transfer documentation does include correspondence between NWSCF (St. Albans prison) and NSCF (Newport prison) regarding Mr. Bittner’s mental health, according to Hoar’s conclusion.

The Vermont Supreme Court deemed in 2021 that some claims in the lawsuit brought by Bittner’s estate could not proceed until a medical expert could substantiate the assertions. One count of medical negligence was included in the lawsuit, which in most cases necessitates a certificate from a medical expert substantiating the claim. 

The lawsuit’s other claims, such as that the defendants acted outrageously, intensifying Bittner’s mental condition and that they were deliberately inattentive to his urgent mental health needs, were further pursued by Sleigh. 

In 2020, Vermont stopped using Centurion as its healthcare provider. To manage health services in the state’s prisons, the correctional department has now entered into a contract with Wellpath LLC. 

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