Dad of 2 dies in jail from neglect after wife begs staff to check on him, lawsuit says

A woman felt something was “terribly wrong” while speaking with her husband three days after he was detained in a Tennessee jail, a federal lawsuit says.

Brandon Cornett, a father of two young daughters, was found unresponsive with oozing sores on his legs at Silverdale Detention Center in Chattanooga on April 25, 2022, according to the lawsuit.

His widow Cristin Cornett says her husband died from neglect after she repeatedly called and begged jail staff to check on him during his time there, a complaint filed March 14 in federal court says.

Cristin Cornett also pleaded with Silverdale to allow her to drop off Brandon Cornett’s pain medications he needed after undergoing four back surgeries in 2021, according to the complaint.

Silverdale staff, however, prevented her from doing so and assured her that “they were handling the situation” when it came to her concerns about her husband, the complaint says.

Brandon Cornett’s death was preventable, according to Cristin Cornett, who’s suing Hamilton County, Tennessee, former Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Hammond, a company that provides medical care to Silverdale inmates and 15 unidentified individuals.

The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office, which runs Silverdale, declined a request for comment from McClatchy News on March 22. McClatchy News contacted the county for comment and attempted to contact the jail’s medical provider for comment on March 22.

Cristin Cornett filed the lawsuit to “seek justice on behalf of her husband and all other families with loved ones who entered Silverdale never to return home,” the complaint says.

More on the case

The lawsuit accuses Silverdale of being notorious for “failure to provide proper medical care to inmates, inhuman living conditions and inmate-on-inmate violence.”

After Brandon Cornett was booked in Silverdale on drinking and driving charges on April 5, 2022, Cristin Cornett worried he was suffering from psychosis when she spoke with him on April 8, 2022, according to the complaint.

She says he sounded “incoherent and paranoid” and requested staff to check on him.

Over the next weeks, Cristin Cornett repeatedly phoned Silverdale asking about how her husband was doing and if she could drop off his medications, according to the complaint.

“Every time, (she) was told she could not bring any medicine and that her husband had everything he needed,” the complaint says.

As Brandon Cornett awaited his arraignment, he complained of his living conditions at the jail, according to the complaint.

Brandon Cornett’s death

Brandon Cornett didn’t receive any medical attention until April 24, one day before his death, according to his medical records obtained by Cristin Cornett, the complaint says.

Medical professionals checked on him 16 days after Cristin Cornett first called the jail concerned about his condition and requested a welfare check, according to the complaint.

Cristin Cornett learned her husband had died on April 25 when the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation visited her that day to inform her, the complaint says.

The TBI investigated Brandon Cornett’s death and provided the results of its investigation to the Office of the District Attorney General, the agency’s senior public information officer Susan Niland told McClatchy News on March 22.

The district attorney general requested that the TBI close the death investigation in late 2022, Niland said in an email.

Cornett’s official cause of death wasn’t specified in the complaint. The TBI referred McClatchy News to the county Medical Examiner’s Office for more information on how he died.

McClatchy News contacted the office inquiring about Brandon Cornett’s death on March 22.

Alongside his wife and two daughters, Brandon Cornett’s mother, stepfather, additional family members and friends are “devastated by his early and unjust passing,” the complaint says.

The lawsuit seeks to recover unspecified damages and demands a trial by jury.

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