Marin, Novato sued over hotel death of freed inmate

The mother of a man who was found dead at a Novato hotel where he was quarantining after being released from San Quentin State Prison in 2020 has sued Marin County, Novato, state prison officials and a host of other defendants.

Gary Michael Madeux, 56, of Sonoma County was found dead at the Inn Marin at 250 Entrada Drive on Aug. 9. He had been released from San Quentin 11 days earlier as part of “Project Hope,” an early release program of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

The program provided free hotel accommodations to people released from prison during the early COVID-19 pandemic who needed to isolate because of virus infection or exposure.

“Out of an abundance of caution, CDCR is offering all those being released from San Quentin a voluntary placement into Project Hope as a safe place for them to isolate/quarantine in the community upon release,” CDCR press secretary Dana Simas wrote in a statement at the time of Madeux’s death.

Simas said that Madeux was released after serving his full sentence, and was not an early release.

According to the lawsuit, however, Madeux “was restricted in his movement by an ankle monitor and warned that if he left the motel, he would suffer penalties, including additional time added to his sentence.”

Simas also said at the time that Madeux was placed in a Marin hotel because “a location for Project Hope was not offered in Mr. Madeux’s county of legal residence.”

Madeux was interviewed by KPIX-TV news about a week before he died.

“I finally had to walk to the store since I haven’t had any food,” said Madeux. “I’m diabetic and I’m shaking because I haven’t had any food.”

Madeux said that he had contracted COVID-19 while at San Quentin, and despite having recovered, had been asked to quarantine for two weeks.

Dr. Matt Willis, Marin County’s public health officer, was also quoted in the KPIX story.

“He just wasn’t on our radar screen because there was a gap in communication between CDCR that never really notified us that he was on his way,” said Willis, who is named as a defendant in the suit.

Simas stated at the time, “We are looking into the notification issue to make sure we are working collaboratively with our local and community partners.”

Interviewed by the Independent Journal following Madeux’s death, Willis said that Marin public health workers supplied Madeux with a meal as soon as they learned he was at the hotel.

Marin County officials then contacted state prisons officials, who resumed care for Madeux. He was two days away from being released from quarantine when he was found dead.

The lawsuit states that a certificate of death issued by Marin County on Sept. 2, 2020, did not identify a cause of death.

Roger Fielding, the Marin County chief deputy coroner, wrote in an email on Thursday that Madeux’s death was caused by “fatal cardiac dysrhythmia secondary to hypertensive and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.”

Fielding wrote that other significant conditions contributing to death were “diabetes mellitus and chronic alcoholism.” He added that Madeux had recently tested positive for COVID-19 but was asymptomatic.

The suit states that Madeux’s mother, Teri Madeux, learned after her son’s death that he had “filed multiple written complaints through the internal process made available by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for prisoners.”

“In the written complaints submitted to CDCR by decedent in April, June and July of 2020 preceding his death,” the suit says, “decedent made repeated requests to be transferred back to San Quentin State Prison, complained of worsening health conditions, reported new health symptoms and also reported that he was not receiving diet appropriate for diabetic prisoners.”

The suit, however, quotes an Aug. 18, 2022, story in the Marin Independent Journal indicating that Madeux was released from prison on July 28. Nevertheless, the suit asserts that “the denial of essential medical services, including examination and diet appropriate for diabetic prisoners and the deliberate indifference of defendants was proximate cause” of Madeux’s death.

Marin County Counsel Brian Washington said, “The county was not responsible for Mr. Madeux’s care, and we are seeking to get dismissed from the case on that basis.”

Vicky Waters, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, declined to comment because the litigation is pending.

Novato City Manager Adam McGill, who is named in the suit together with the city of Novato, wrote in an email that “the city has no relationship with San Quentin, was not a part of their COVID programs in anyway, nor was the city involved in placing people in hotels during COVID or as a result of COVID isolation protocols.”

“This was true in 2020 and remains true today,” he wrote.

Madeux was imprisoned after violating probation for a drunk driving incident in Rohnert Park, according to the Press Democrat.

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