More than a dozen lawsuits alleging mistreatment at the Montgomery County Jail in the last five years are expected to eventually cost $10 million or more, according to Montgomery County Commissioner Debbie Lieberman.
Of the at least 13 lawsuits, one has gone to trial, one has been dismissed and four have been settled out of court. The others are pending.
Here are the federal civil lawsuits and the inmates involved in the order they were filed in Dayton’s U.S. District Court. County legal expenses include the cost for outside counsel (not including staff attorneys), settlement costs, expert witnesses and other expenditures as of July 31, 2018:
David Cooper | Filed August 2013 | Trial verdict January 2018
Jury decision: For Montgomery County
Other legal expenses: $801.58
Cooper’s attorney alleged that in November 2012, Cooper was held in the jail in a 13-person cell despite psychological disorders that made him feel suicidal in a small, crowded place. After one other inmate was found concealing medication in his mouth, all the inmates’ medications were discontinued.
Cooper, who turned 30 on Nov. 28, 2012, tried to kill himself by cutting arteries in his arm. After returning from the hospital, Cooper was returned to another 13-person cell. He used a metal clip in his ID armband to cut himself again. After a stay in a psychiatric hospital, he was returned to the jail where he was allegedly clothed in just a gown and on “suicide watch” without bedding for 3.5 months.
The case went to trial early this year and a federal jury concluded Montgomery County did not violate Cooper’s 14th Amendment rights when it did not provide a mattress.
Robert Richardson | Filed May 2014 | Pending
Other legal expenses: $321,647.32
Richardson, 28, died May 19, 2012 after corrections officers and medical personnel responded to his cell when his cellmate said Richardson needed assistance. The suit alleges several jail employees handcuffed and subdued Richardson on his stomach outside the cell door while he was having a medical emergency.
The suit said that Richardson “was essentially crushed to death by various corrections officers.” An internal investigation found no wrongdoing by jail personnel, finding that employees “restricted Mr. Richardson’s movement to prevent Mr. Richardson from injuring himself.” But in a deposition, sheriff’s office Capt. Chuck Crosby admitted that Richardson during the 22-minute ordeal was placed in restraints while in a prone position, in violation of departmental policy.
A trial date is scheduled for Jan. 7, 2019.
Emily Evans | Filed September 2014 | Settled November 2017
Settlement amount: $380,000
Other legal expenses: $143,813.28 (Insurance paid $23,813.28, the amount above $500,000)
Evans, then 27, was brought to jail on a drunk driving charge early in the morning of March 30, 2014. Her blood-alcohol level was twice the legal limit of .08. Surveillance video showed Sgt. Eric Banks interacting with Evans. Her attorney said a deputy pointed a Taser at Evans and threatened her, and that Banks slammed Evans to the floor, causing multiple facial fractures.
Evans’ attorney said it took three months to get the video. An incident report by Banks said Evans used her legs to press against the wall and toward him, so he “guided her to the ground.” The suit was dismissed against all defendants but two, Banks and Thomas Feehan, who lost an appeal to be excused from the suit. In November, county commissioners voted to pay Evans and her attorneys $380,000 to settle the suit.
Amber Swink | Filed September 2016 | Settled, September 2017
Settlement amount: $375,000
Other legal expenses: $3,212.50
Clay Twp. police on Nov. 15, 2015 brought Amber Swink, then 24, to jail after being called to a Brookville residence about a domestic dispute. After having been pepper-sprayed once by Sgt. Judith Sealey, she was placed into a restraint in an isolation cell for allegedly yelling and screaming.
Surveillance video shows Sealey blast pepper spray directly into Swink’s face. The incident was investigated by Dayton police and now by federal agents. Sealey — who was promoted to captain in early 2016 before the video became public — retired on disability and was found guilty of a misdemeanor in 2018. Swink was sentenced to community control after being convicted of assault on a police officer for breaking the arresting officer’s glasses.
County Commissioners approved a $375,000 settlement with Swink in September 2017.
Jeffrey Day | Filed October 2016 | Pending
Other legal expenses: $3,691.44
On Nov. 26, 2015, Day was in an automobile accident and suffered a fractured pelvis and hip. Day was arrested for obstructing justice after officers said he didn’t answer their questions truthfully and was kept in the jail for five days — including three in a mental health area. He alleges that two Trotwood police officers and several jail personnel repeatedly ignored his injuries. Those injuries required emergency surgery when Day was released.
Surveillance video from the jail sally port and booking area appears to show Day, 36, of Dayton, struggling to walk. Motions for summary judgment have been filed by both sides.
James J. Howard | Filed December 2016 | Dismissed
Other legal expenses: $0
The 53-year-old serving time in prison said he was hospitalized and had all five toes amputated due to negligent conduct in the jail in June 2015. Howard said he is a brittle diabetic who suffers from neuropathy and nerve damage. Howard alleges a doctor at Good Samaritan wouldn’t treat him when there was an infection in just one toe. He also said after the amputation that no one replaced a dressing for a week because they didn’t know how.
He also alleged that a judge didn’t give proper attention to a doctor’s warning that healing in the jail wouldn’t be good because the conditions weren’t sanitary. A magistrate judge ruled Howard’s complaint should be dismissed but allowed for objections to be heard.
In June 2018, an amended complaint was dismissed in part because of time limitations.
Joseph Guglielmo | Filed January 2017 | Pending
Other legal expenses: $24,211.20
Attorneys for Joseph Guglielmo, a homeless veteran picked up for being combative at a shelter, claim he was beaten so severely that he was in a coma for two months and is now cognitively disabled, wheelchair bound and lives in a nursing facility. In the complaint, Guglielmo alleges that on Jan. 15, 2015, corrections officers stood in the way of a surveillance camera so his beating by others wouldn’t be captured on video.
Guglielmo alleges that four corrections officers beat him in his cell and that two others remained outside but did nothing to stop one employee from throwing Guglielmo, then 57 , against a concrete wall and punching him in his head, eye area and abdomen. A sheriff’s investigation found no violation of departmental policy for the use of force against Guglielmo, who deputies said grabbed a sergeant’s arms.
A trial has been scheduled for Oct. 22, though several motions were filed in July by defendants seeking to exclude plaintiff’s experts’ testimony.
Charles Wade | Filed February 2017 | Pending
Other legal expenses: $16,928.85
Charles Wade was arrested Oct. 16, 2016, and taken to the jail for suspicion of operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Wade was described as intoxicated and belligerent but claims he wasn’t resisting and was placed in a restraint chair and pepper-sprayed.
Wade claims the jail employees’ actions were improper and a violation of his civil rights. According to an incident report written by Sgt. John Eversole, one of the defendants, Wade was pepper-sprayed by Eversole, but “the spray did not have an immediate effect” and that Wade “briefly freed his left hand” and resisted. Eversole deployed a second burst, causing Wade and several jail employees to cough as Wade repeatedly said, “I can’t breathe.”
Wade remained in the restraint chair from 4:46 a.m. until 7:24 a.m., in part because Wade was yelling, “I’m being denied my constitutional rights” and for “continued disorderly behavior,” the incident report says.
Wade’s trial is scheduled for Jan. 23, 2019.
Daryl Wallace | Filed May 2017 | Settled November 2017
Settlement amount: $58,000
Other legal expenses: $226.50
Attorneys for former inmate Daryl Wallace, 44, claim former corrections officer Jerrid Campbell “viciously beat” Wallace with impunity on Sept. 28, 2015 in an altercation captured on surveillance video. The civil rights and excessive force lawsuit says that Wallace complained to Campbell that his cell’s hot water wasn’t working and Campbell refused to call maintenance.
Campbell was fired for “violations of numerous policies.” According to sheriff’s office documents, the violations included: using racist slurs against Sheriff Phil Plummer and other command staff members, failing to allow an inmate access to a dentist, use of force; an inappropriate Facebook post about a co-worker, making inaccurate and untruthful statements to the Dayton Daily News and making similar statements to the Dayton Weekly News.
Campbell was suspended a total of 23 days for those alleged violations. The suit was settled for $58,000 in November.
Marsha Pate-Strickland | Filed September 2017 | Settled November 2017
Settlement amount: $75,000
Other legal expenses: $1,944
Surveillance video showed the altercation on Sept. 8, 2015 between Pate-Strickland, then 60, and corrections officer David Stemp after the inmate asked for milk instead of juice. The suit claimed Stemp ordered Pate-Strickland to stand up, then Pate-Strickland was forcefully grabbed and “violently swung” around before her right shoulder and arm were slammed to the floor.
Pate-Strickland was booked in on a misdemeanor assault accusation brought by another woman in her building that was dropped, according to the Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office. The lawsuit claimed that the actions by Stemp were “brutal and excessive force” and “cruel and unusual.”
About two months after the suit was filed, county commissioners approved to pay Pat-Strickland and her attorneys a $75,000 settlement.
Robert Linkous | Filed October 2017 | Pending
Other legal expenses: $0
In 2015, Linkous died while in custody after his family claimed that Huber Heights police and others alleged he did not get needed medical attention while in jail. Linkous, 49, died of heart failure after he was incarcerated for a day in the Montgomery County jail, according to the lawsuit, which claimed his wife called 911 because Linkous needed medical attention.
After a day in the jail, Linkous was being transported from the jail to the Clark County Jail by Clark County deputies when they determined the inmate needed immediate medical attention and took him to a hospital, the lawsuit states. Linkous told Clark County deputies that, “I am short of breath and can barely breathe” and “I am having chest pains,” according to a Clark County Sheriff’s Office memo.
Huber Heights police arrested Linkous on Oct. 6 and took him to the Montgomery County jail. Police responded to a Huber Heights home because Linkous’ wife had called 911. Police decided Linkous should be held on two 10-year-old warrants out of Clark County and Michigan. As Linkous was being taken to the jail, his wife called to alert jail staff that he was suffering from withdrawal of alcohol and heroin since Oct. 3, 2015 and was confused, according to the lawsuit.
Tonya Varney | Filed May 2018 | Pending
Other legal expenses: $0
Varney, 47, filed the complaint in May claiming she was shoved on May 19, 2017 by Montgomery County Sheriff’s Sgt. Thomas Feehan after she balked at entering a female wait area cell because she thought there was urine on the floor. The suit says jail staffers said the liquid was water after the floor had been cleaned. Soon after that, she was shoved into the cell sustaining “permanent and debilitating” injuries requiring a $90,000 hospital stay, Varney claims.
Court records show Varney was arrested before 5 a.m. that day by Riverside police for driving under the influence and taken to jail. No trial date has been set.
Nicholas Alston and Keith Barber, et al. | Filed July 2018 | Pending
Other legal expenses: $0
Alston and Barber are the named plaintiffs on a federal civil class-action lawsuit against Plummer seeking relief from overcrowding and related issues at the Montgomery County Jail. Similar conditions led to a 1989 action that led to construction of the building’s newer section. The complaint cited a November 2016 jail inspection report that said the recommended inmate population is 443 but that 791 people were being housed. Plummer said the jail has 910 beds, of which 130 are going empty more recently.
The case has moved from Judge Thomas Rose to Judge Walter Rice, who presided over the 1989 case.
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