Judge Denies Woman's Bid to File Late Claim Over Son's Custody Death

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A woman who alleges her son died in custody in 2019 due to the negligence of sheriff's deputies failed to convince a judge today that she is entitled to file a claim beyond the extended time allowed by Gov. Gavin Newsom's executive orders during the pandemic.

In her petition filed Jan. 28 in Los Angeles Superior Court, Jacqueline Cothran asked to be excused for mistakenly missing the Aug. 25, 2020 deadline to bring her claim due to her grief over the Oct. 27, 2019, death of her son, Robert Cothran, and because she was worried about the coronavirus spread.

However, Judge Robert Draper found that with the filing extension provided under Newsom's orders, Cothran's argument was “less persuasive because she hired counsel on May 23, 2020 -- well before this (August 2020) deadline.''

Neither Cothran nor her lawyer provided any argument or evidence why they were not able to bring the claim on time and instead waited until Sept. 2, eight days after the time limit, Draper found.

According to the LASD, Robert Cothran initially received medical care in jail from the county's Correctional Health Services, which is not part of the sheriff's department. He was transferred on Oct. 20, 2019, to County-USC Medical Center, where his condition worsened and he died there seven days later, according to the LASD.

According to Jacqueline Cothran's petition, she brought an application for a late claim last September, saying she was unable to consult with an attorney within six months because of the rapid spread of the coronavirus, especially in Los Angeles, and because she was emotionally distraught and in mourning for her son's death.

Her application to file a late claim was rejected in October, but the county was silent about why and also did not state whether the claim itself was rejected, the petition states.

According to Jacqueline Cothran's draft claim, Robert Cothran and his mother had asked for a specialist for months leading up to the date of death because he had been having chest pains and breathing problems. The requests were ignored multiple times by the jail staff, who neglected his medical needs, the draft claim alleges.

As a result of the alleged denial of medical care, Robert Cothran's health deteriorated and his heart was infected by invasive bacteria, causing severe pain, the draft claim states. He also endured emotional and mental distress for months until he died, according to the draft claim.

A claim is often a forerunner to a lawsuit.

Photo: Getty Images

Copyright 2021, City News Service, Inc.

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