This article was originally published on by Madeleine O’Neill on September 21, 2018

Erie County and two corrections officers are denying the claims raised in the federal civil rights lawsuit filed by the family of Felix L. Manus, a work-release inmate who died after suffering an asthma attack during a shift in May.

Their responses, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Erie, argue that they are not responsible for any injuries or damages to Manus, 48, who died at UPMC Hamot on June 11.

“Decedent’s (Manus’) injuries, sufferings, and/or damages were caused by his pre-existing condition(s) and/or own conduct, negligence, recklessness, disregard, criminal and other behavior and not in any way by the conduct of the Answering Defendant,” the lawyer for Erie County, Patrick Carey, wrote in the county’s response.

Though the responses largely deny responsibility for what happened to Manus, they also confirm aspects of the May 30 incident as they have been described by the Manus family’s lawyer, John Mizner.

Mizner filed the lawsuit against the county and the two corrections officers, Joshua Pietras and Roger Herrmann, in July, claiming that the officers delayed emergency medical care when Manus suffered an asthma attack during an outdoor work-release shift near Edinboro.

Pietras is a corrections officer and Herrmann is a lieutenant, according to court documents. They are represented by Erie lawyer Christopher Sinnott.

The response filed on behalf of the two officers states that Pietras, who was tasked with transporting Manus and four other work-release inmates back to the county’s work-release center at the end of their shift, was not initially aware that Manus was suffering an asthma attack.

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