Inmate sues sheriff

CONYERS -- An inmate at Rockdale County Jail claims his potentially fatal health conditions have not received appropriate attention and has filed a federal lawsuit against Rockdale County Sheriff Jeff Wigington.

Richard Ronald Warbington, 45, filed a civil rights complaint with the U.S. District Court on Jan. 13.

In the records, Warbington cited "debilitating" and "severe" pain from side effects of medication given to him for his Hepatitis C and cirrhosis. Warbington said in his written claim that the jail's medical department, which is a contracted service, did not respond to his complaints of dehydration, dizzy spells, fatigue and weight loss. The inmate said the condition is getting worse and his skin is turning yellow.

"I'm also in constant pain, as if I'm being stabbed by something in my stomach and rib cage area," Warbington wrote. "I'm laying here suffering all the time because no one seems to care."

Warbington, who is representing himself, is asking for immediate medical treatment and $100,000 for legal fees, medical malpractice and for "pain and suffering."

According to court records, Warbington tried to resolve his grievances with the jail but was not given a response.

Attorney Jason Waymire of the Buford-based law firm William, Morris & Waymire is defending Wigington.

"It is our general policy not to comment on pending litigation," Waymire said in a Friday phone conversation with the Citizen. "But I will say we intend to vigorously defend the case on behalf of the sheriff."

Waymire said the case has already gone through a screening process with a federal judge to determine the legitimacy of the claim. At this stage, the defendant now has the opportunity to respond to the complaints brought up by the plaintiff. The deadline for filing the response is June 11.

Waymire said that the lawsuit is still in its initial stages and there is a possibility the case will not go to trial.

Warbington is in jail due to a December incident in which he was charged with four counts of terroristic threats, three counts of terroristic threats, two counts of third degree cruelty to children, one count of battery, one count of simple battery and one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

According to court documents, the District Attorney's Office is seeking to punish Warbington as a recidivist, citing 11 criminal incidents that date as far back as 1985. Those incidents occurred in Rockdale, Clayton, Bibb, Monroe and Fulton counties.