FORT SMITH, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Attorneys for both sides in a lawsuit filed after a Sebastian County jail inmate died met for a discovery conference last week.

Larry Eugene Price Jr., 50, died after spending a little over a year in Sebastian County Jail where he was found unresponsive, lying in a pool of water and urine, according to the August 29, 2021 lawsuit filed by his family. Price was pronounced dead at Mercy Hospital.

The lawsuit stated that an autopsy from the Arkansas Medical Examiner’s office ruled acute dehydration and malnutrition as his manner of death. But Sebastian County Sheriff Hobe Runion told KNWA/FOX24 in a video statement that “the autopsy said the inmate died with COVID.”

Counsel for all parties met for a court-ordered Rule 26 discovery conference on March 22 and filed a report in the Western District of Arkansas federal court in Fort Smith. During that meeting, both sides agree to several procedural details in the case, including the following:

  • No changes are needed in the timing, form or requirements of mandatory disclosures. The parties will serve those mandatory disclosures by April 7.
  • The parties will conduct discovery on all subjects raised in the plaintiff’s complaint and the defendants’ answers, and they agreed that there is no need to conduct discovery in phases or to limit it to certain issues.
  • Electronic data will be produced on external devices such as thumb drives, and the parties will take “reasonable measures to preserve potentially discoverable data from alteration or destruction.”
  • Each party may take up to 15 depositions, and the standard limit of 25 interrogatories was increased to 30.
  • The parties proposed that a trial be scheduled for May or June, 2024, with a deadline falling 180 days before that for any amended pleadings.
  • The parties proposed a deadline of 120 days before trial for discovery and filing dispositive motions.

A Rule 26(f) report was signed by attorneys from both sides and submitted to Judge P.K. Holmes III on March 22.