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Family files notice of lawsuit in death of inmate India Cummings at Erie County Holding Center

A lawyer for the mother of India T. Cummings has notified Erie County Sheriff Timothy B. Howard and the City of Lackawanna Police Department that they can expect a lawsuit over the woman’s death.

The notice of claim, prepared by attorney James M. VanDette, had been anticipated for months after the comatose Cummings, 27, was rushed Feb. 17 from the Erie County Holding Center, which Howard oversees, to Buffalo General Medical Center. She was pronounced dead four days later.

VanDette prepared the notice of claim for Tawana R. Wyatt of Rochester, the mother of Cummings and administrator of her estate.

Soon after Cummings was pronounced dead Feb. 21, Buffalo lawyer Matt Albert, representing the late inmate’s family, said the woman’s organs had stopped functioning and she had an untreated broken arm when she was transferred to the hospital and placed on life support. The final autopsy report has yet to be completed.

Lackawanna police arrested Cummings on Feb. 1 after she crashed a car she had hijacked in a desperate bid to return to her hometown of Rochester. She had smoked synthetic marijuana and was acting violently, and she fought with Holding Center deputies at least twice over the next few days, according to jail records.

However, Albert contends that the jail’s supervisory and medical personnel allowed her downward spiral to continue without intervention during her 17-day confinement. The notice of claim repeats the assertion. Cummings, it says, suffered from medical conditions “not properly diagnosed, cared for, or treated, and which ultimately led to her death.”

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