NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Out of the eye of the public, Middlesex County quietly made a payment of $20,000 to the estate of a woman who committed suicide inside the county's jail back in 2013.
News of this September 2017 payoff first became public on January 17 of this year, when open government advocate John Paff published the information on his NJ Civil Settlements website.
A wrongful death suit filed against the county claimed that Ashley Schubiger, a resident of the Colonia section of Woodbridge, was not properly screened upon being transferred to the Middlesex County Adult Correctional Facility, and that she did not receive adequate supervision while being held.
On August 5, 2013, Schubiger was medically cleared by the facility’s staff to be placed in a standard holding cell. Later that day, she was found unresponsive in the cell after having hanged herself.
According to the lawsuit, at no point did the medical staff evaluate Schubiger for intoxication during the intake process, nor did they obtain and review her records, both of which are required by the policy of the facility.
If the staff had reviewed her records, the family's attorney argued they would have found that she had a history of suicide attempts and psychiatric illness, as well as an addiction problem.
The lawsuit said Schubiger "required one on one constant supervision as she was at high risk for suicide and/or self-inflicted harm."
Prior to her death, Schubiger exhibited symptoms of a deterioration in her mental and psychological state, and allegedly threatened to commit suicide.
Instead of being placed on suicide watch in the jail's infirmary, Schubiger was allegedly put in a standard cell with materials, such as a bedsheet and articles of clothing, which are known to be used by inmates to harm themselves or commit suicide.
The tragic death of the 25-year-old woman occurred during the tenure of longtime Warden Edmund Cicchi, who retired the following year.
Along with Warden Cicchi, multiple unnamed employees of the facility, including officers, nurses, and doctors, were also identified as defendants in the lawsuit
The case was brought by Ellen Schubiger, the mother of Ashley Schubiger. She was represented by attorney Dean R. Maglione of Newark.
The lawsuit was first filed on August 5, 2015, the two-year aniversary of Ashley Schubiger's death.
According to her complaint, Ellen Schubiger never recieved "records of any investigation or internal affairs reports" made in connection with the death of her daughter.
None of the payoff money was ever seen by Ellen Schubiger, who died nine months before the $20,000 settlement was reached. Instead, the money was awarded to the administrator of her estate, Diane Caramico.