Woman Who Begged Officers and Staff for Help, Dies

photo of Madelyn Linsenmeir
Madelyn Linsenmeir


Family Files Lawsuit

The family of Madelyn Linsenmeir filed a lawsuit in the early part of March 2020, against the City of Springfield (Massachusetts), the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department and others. The lawsuit details the extent to which officers and staff members ignored Madelyn Linsenmeir’s assertions that she was sick and needed to go to the hospital. According to the lawsuit, their lack of action resulted in the death of Ms. Linsenmeir.

Madelyn Linsenmeir’s Final Days

The Booking Process

Madelyn was one of the many people who were caught up in the opioid epidemic. She became addicted to opioids after receiving them as a prescription, while in high school, and suffered from that addiction until her death at the age of 30. On September 28, 2018, Madelyn sent her mother a text message saying, “I need to go to the hospital I am dying i weigh 90 pounds mom I need you.” Madelyn had known she was sick but was too afraid to go to the hospital because she thought they would check her for warrants.

Madelyn was arrested on September 29, 2018. When she was being booked she kept telling the officers that she was really sick, she couldn’t breathe, and that she needed to go to the hospital. When Madelyn was allowed to make her phone call, the officers stood around her. Madelyn told her mother that she was being denied medical care. The complaint claims that Sgt. Moises Zanazanian said to both Madelyn and her mother that, “he would not provide Madelyn with medical attention.”

The Pretrial Holding Process

On September 30, 2018, Madelyn was moved to the Women’s Correctional Center (WCC). This area is where detox is done. When an opioid addicted woman is pregnant in the WCC, she is given an opioid replacement therapy so the woman can go through a gradual detoxification. But women who are not pregnant are left to detox without any aid. This cold-turkey type of detoxification is extremely hard on the individuals. It forces the individual into withdrawal.

Per the complaint, “Opioid withdrawal (sometimes referred to as being “dope sick”) is an excruciating experience that lasts for several days and often includes symptoms that can lead to serious complications: insomnia, abdominal cramps, severe diarrhea and vomiting, and dehydration.”

Staff in this section had become so desensitized to people in pain that when Madelyn told them she was sick, couldn’t breathe and needed to go to the hospital, their response was it, “was her own fault for using drugs.” Madelyn’s condition continued to decline. On October 2 – 4 other inmates tried to tell staff that something was really wrong with Madelyn. On October 4, medical staff entered Madelyn’s cell and saw “that Madelyn was “in severe distress” constituting a “medical emergency.” Among other symptoms, Madelyn was “initially unresponsive” and later provided only “incoherent” responses to verbal stimuli.”

Madelyn was taken to the hospital but by this point it was too late. Madelyn Linsenmeir died on October 7, 2018 of a treatable infection.

It’s not surprising that the police negligence and police misconduct detailed in the complaint would lead to a negligence lawsuit against the City of Springfield, the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department and the specific individuals involved. We highly recommend you read the complaint. It has a lot more detail about how Madelyn was treated. The below video shows Madelyn during the booking process.

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