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updated: 10/23/2012 3:49 PM

Lawsuit dismissed in death of DuPage jail inmate

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The family of a Wheaton man who committed suicide while in police custody voluntarily dismissed a lawsuit against the DuPage County sheriff's office, three deputies and a psychologist.

The complaint, filed after the May 2011 death of 37-year-old Christopher Colburn, was dismissed last week at the request of Colburn's estate administrator. Judge Kenneth Popejoy closed the case without prejudice, meaning the suit could be refiled within one year.

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The lawsuit accused the sheriff's office, three deputies and a psychologist working for the sheriff's office of negligently monitoring Colburn after he was arrested on a felony theft charge. According to the complaint, officials knew or should have known Colburn was suffering from mental illness and drug addiction when he was taken off "suicide watch" for high-risk inmates.

Colburn attempted suicide in his jail cell on May 15, 2011, and was later pronounced dead at Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield. The lawsuit didn't say how Colburn died, and the official cause is listed as "pending investigation" on his death certificate.

Sheriff John Zaruba's office didn't immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday. Patrick Rice, the attorney for Colburn's family, said he would consider refiling a lawsuit against the psychologist only.

"I'm very confident we would have succeeded (in the original case), but it was a matter of finances for the family," he said.

Rice declined to elaborate on how Colburn took his own life.

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