Muskegon County to pay at least $1 million over inmate seizure death

Target 8

MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — Muskegon County has agreed to pay at least $1 million to the family of a jail inmate who died after suffering repeated seizures at the jail, a county commissioner said.

The settlement of the federal lawsuit will go to the family of Paul Bulthouse, who was 39 in April 2019 when he died in the Muskegon County Jail.

An undated courtesy photo of Paul Bulthouse. (The Bulthouse family)

Sheriff Michael Poulin first announced the death was natural and that there was no wrongdoing, but a Target 8 investigation found Bulthouse died after suffering at least 17 seizures in a close-observation cell without getting medical help.

The Muskegon County Board of Commission voted 5-2 on Tuesday to approve the settlement with the Bulthouse family. The details were discussed in a closed session and were not made public.

But County Commissioner Zach Lahring told Target 8 that it was a “seven-figure” settlement. He said the exact amount would be eventually made public.

The commissioner said the county will pay $250,000 of the settlement and that its insurance company would pay the rest.

The Target 8 investigation included surveillance video that showed a jail guard watched one of Bulthouse’s seizures and walked away.

The family filed a multi-million-dollar federal lawsuit in March against the county, the sheriff, deputies and nurses from Wellpath, an out-of-state company that provided medical care at the jail.

The state attorney general filed involuntary manslaughter charges against four guards — Jeffrey Patterson, who was the guard who watched the seizure, Crystal Greve, Jamall Lane and Sgt. David Vanderlaan — and registered nurse Aubrey Schotts.

Schotts worked for Wellpath.

The guards and nurse are expected in court in July to determine if they should face trial. If convicted, they could face up to 15 years in prison.

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