On the day after Dorothy Dian Palinchik died, her family hired an attorney and took the first step toward filing a civil rights lawsuit against the Pinellas County Jail.
Palinchik, a 42-year-old St. Petersburg woman, was booked into the jail Feb. 13, charged with stealing a cheesesteak from Publix. Over the course of her 10 days in jail, she fell ill with what the family said was a staph infection and severe pneumonia.
She died Thursday at Largo Medical Center after six days in a medically induced coma.
Palinchik's family thinks she acquired the infection while in custody and blames the jail for not treating her or taking her to the hospital sooner.
"Someone went into the jail apparently very healthy and became sick enough that she died," said Mark Buell, the family's attorney. "The question is not where the germ came from, but did they give her appropriate medical care or were they indifferent?"
Buell said the civil rights action in federal court would have to show the jail acted with "deliberate indifference" to Palinchik's medical care.
Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Marianne Pasha said she could not release details of Palinchik's medical treatment. She did say Palinchik showed no signs of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infection when she was booked.
An autopsy was performed Friday morning. About the same time, the family made arrangements to have Palinchik's body cremated.
Boyfriend Michael Mullican said he planned a memorial ceremony next week.
Annette Olds, Palinchik's older sister, said her sister's rapid descent was shocking.
When Olds went to the hospital Feb. 23, her sister was in a medically induced coma, but no one knew she had MRSA. It wasn't until later they discovered she had the highly contagious staph infection.
"She suffered so much," Olds said. "They had an obligation to take care of her while she was sick."
Jonathan Abel can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4157.