Virginia Beach Wrongful Death Lawyer Report – Lawsuit Likely over Woman who Died at VA Beach City Jail

By John Cooper, Virginia Beach Wrongful Death Attorney

Virginia Beach City Jail is likely to be the subject of a wrongful death case brought by the family of a York County, VA woman who choked to death on a plastic bracelet at the jail in 2011.

The case of Jacquelynn Diane Schwartz, described in a Daily Press report as “a newlywed who had no serious criminal record,” received widespread publicity after her death in in custody on July 18, 2011.

As an experienced Virginia Beach wrongful death attorney I am saddened by the facts surrounding this case and the loss to her family.

A justice group calls for an investigation into the death of Jacquelynn Diane Schwartz.


The woman went to Virginia Beach General District Court on July 15, 2011 with documents to “show a judge that she had completed court-ordered traffic school following an April conviction for reckless driving,” the Daily Press reported.

According to reports, officials found her blood-alcohol content to be 0.21 percent, more than twice the legal limit. She was convicted of contempt of court and sentenced to 10 days behind bars.

As a Virginia Beach DUI accident injury attorney who sees at first hand the damage caused by drunk drivers, there appears to have been a clear case for officials to take action. But the sequence of events that followed at the jail raises some concerning questions.

According to the Daily Press the woman’s cellmate said he was “feverish, shaking and hallucinating.”

 She was placed in an observation cell, but died some time later. She had chewed off her bracelet and choked on it. The events raise the question why Mrs. Schwartz did not receive immediate medical attention.

A “notice of claim,” has been filed by Charlottesville-based attorney Thomas Albro, according to the Daily Press. It says Schwartz’s husband, David LaClair, holds the jail responsible his wife’s death.

“The death … was attributable, in whole or in part, to the negligence of those employees of the Virginia Beach Correctional Center who failed to ensure that (Schwartz) was adequately monitored and received appropriate treatment,” the notice said.

A jail like a hospital has a responsibility to ensure proper care for people housed within its walls.


The Virginia Beach personal injury law firm, Cooper Hurley, handles car, truck, and motorcycle injuries as well as brain injury, wrongful death, railroad workers’ injuries (FELA) mesothelioma and medical malpractice cases.

John Cooper grew up and was educated in Virginia Beach and handles many cases from the city. John Cooper and his partner Jim Hurley have more than 40 years of combined experience in handling personal injury claims.

John Cooper has been named to Virginia “Super Lawyers” since 2010 and has been a member since 2011 of the Multimillion dollar Advocates Roundtable. Cooper Hurley represents people hurt in accidents in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News and throughout Virginia as well as in north eastern North Carolina. We always put the best interests of our clients first. The firm is recognized by other lawyers as “AV” by Martindale-Hubbell, a national attorney rating service, for our top level of legal skill and highest ethical standards. If you need help or advice about a serious injury, please call us at (757) 309-4711 or make an appointment to visit our Virginia Beach office at 4445 Corporation Lane, Suite #187, Virginia Beach, VA, 23462. For a free consultation with a specialized Virginia Beach, VA personal injury lawyer contact us through this website


About Cooper Hurley Law

Experienced personal injury attorneys John Cooper and Jim Hurley are the partners of the Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers. They are joined by attorneys Griff O'Hanlon and Bill O'Mara. The firm has a main office in Norfolk and client meeting locations in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Suffolk, Hampton, Portsmouth and the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Cooper Hurley works with clients who have been injured in car, truck and motorcycle accidents, those who have lost a loved one in a wrongful death, and people hurt at businesses and by dangerous products.
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