Lawsuit to be filed against Page County seeking damages for wrongful death at jail

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By Randy Arrington

LURAY, July 1 — Page County officials received notice earlier this month of intent to file legal claims against the county seeking monetary damages related to the May 27th “wrongful death” of 26-year-old Cody Shotwell Brown of Stanley, who was in custody at the Page County Jail.

Virginia Beach-based attorney Kelly A. Cournoyer of the Toscano Law Group filed the notice of intent with the county attorney on June 15 as a representative of the Estate of Cody Shotwell Brown. Page County Sheriff Chad Cubbage received a copy last week, while County Administrator Amity Moler only received the notice on Thursday.

“This claim arises from the following occurrence in the sum and substance: failure of Page County Jail and its affiliates to find, prevent and/or remove fentanyl, and other controlled substances from the jail,” the June 15 notice reads. “As a result of the occurrence, claimant incurred injuries and damages for which this claim is now made, namely the death of Cody Shotwell Brown on or about May 27, 2021. Claimant’s injuries were proximately and directly caused by wrongful acts or omissions of employees of Page County while acting within the course and scope of their employment.”

The notice was addressed to three individuals: County Administrator Amity Moler, Captain Randall Williams of the Page County Jail, and county attorney Michael Williams Helms of the Miller & Earle law firm of Luray.

“The Estate anticipates filing claims for injury and damages for negligence resulting in wrongful death,” the notice states. “The Estate also anticipates that claims will be presented under the Civil Rights Act…arising from a deprivation of Mr. Brown’s rights under the Constitution. The claims will include assertions that Page County and its affiliates deprived Mr. Brown of his 8th and 14th Amendment right to be free of harm and threats to his safety.”

The lawsuit is expected to make claims that Brown received the fentanyl that proved fatal to him the day before his death from a visitor or inmate at the Page County Jail. After Brown showed signs of an overdose, he was taken to the Winchester Medical Center for treatment, where he died the next day.

“Please take all measures to prevent the loss, destruction, or spoliation of any potentially relevant evidence and to ensure that no documentary or physical evidence is destroyed that may be potentially relevant to these claims,” the notice states.

When PVN asked on June 1 about Brown’s death, Sheriff Cubbage stated: “This is still under investigation and has been turned over to the [Virginia State Police]. I am unable to make any comments at this time.”

A case search in Page County Circuit Court reveals that Brown plead guilty to both entering a house to commit assault and battery and firearm larceny in 2013. That same year saw eight probation violations filed against Brown. He also plead guilty to a shoplifting charge in 2018 and was charged with a subsequent probation violation.

Brown was at the wheel of his motorcycle on Aug. 31, 2020, when he was involved in a three-vehicle accident along Route 340 (West Main Street) near the Stanley Town Centre. Traveling at a high rate of speed, Brown struck another vehicle and was thrown from the motorcycle, suffering life-threatening injuries, according to state police reports. The accident claimed the life of Brown’s girlfriend, LaDonna Christina Norris, 26, when she was also thrown from the motorcycle.

No indication has been given as to when the actual civil lawsuit against the county will be filed in Page County Circuit Court.



Cody Shotwell Brown

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