Family of inmate who died at Orange County Jail files lawsuit

Max Gracia died 4 days after arrest, autopsy says

ORLANDO, Fla. – The family of an inmate who died at the Orange County Jail four days after his 2015 arrest has filed a federal lawsuit, according to officials from NeJame Law.

Attorney Mark NeJame and the family of Max Gracia held a news conference detailing the lawsuit at 3 p.m. Monday. Gracia's mother, father and sister spoke to the media, expressing their outrage and grief over what they called a preventable tragedy.

Max Gracia, 22, died on Aug. 10, 2015, after a bite on his leg from an Orlando Police Department K-9 became infected and the bacteria spread to his lungs, an autopsy report said.

He was found unresponsive in his jail cell four days after he was arrested in connection with an armed robbery at a Circle K on John Young Parkway. He was taken to Orlando Regional Medical Center, where he died.

The medical examiner ruled Max Gracia's death a homicide.

NeJame and Max Gracia's family said he spent his final days crying out in pain, begging for help only for nurses to tell him that he was faking his illness.

"For four days, he languished in pain as infection and fever raged through his body and ultimately he died without any care, concern or compassion, apparently, shown by those who were charged with caring for him," NeJame said.

Max Gracia's mother, Willine Gracia, said she has been heartbroken since her son's death. She said she knows the money from the lawsuit won't bring Max Gracia back, but she hopes the lawsuit will prevent a similar incident from happening to another family.

"It's not about the money, it's not. You can't treat a human being that way. It doesn't matter about color, race, none of that matters. My son screamed and laid there in agony and pain, dying," Willine Gracia said.

The lawsuit names Orange County, medical director for Corrections Health Services Robert J. Buck III, and jail nurses Maryanne Evans, Karen Clairmont, Elsa Galloza-Gonzalez and Lynn Marie Harter as defendants.

Gracia's mother told News 6 in the months after her son's death that she blamed what she called negligent nurses at the jail who ignored her son's pleas for help.

"My son told them. He told the nurse, 'I cannot move.' She said, and I quote because I got this from the detectives, 'He's faking it.' I will hold this up again for you guys. This is not a fake. My 22-year-old son is now dead," Willine Gracia said.

NeJame said a few doses of antibiotics could have saved Max Gracia's life.

At least one nurse resigned in the midst of an investigation.

About the Author: