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County jail officials in Southern Indiana accused of abusing inmates

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A class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of former inmates accuses officials at the Floyd County jail of forcibly stripping the inmates of their clothing and keeping them naked in a padded cell for prolonged periods of time in violation of their constitutional rights.

The complaint, Gentry et al. v. Floyd County, Indiana, et al., 4:14-cv-00054, was filed June 12 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana by Louisville attorney Laura Landenwich of Clay Daniel Walton & Adams PLC.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs allege the defendants forcibly removed their clothing without any suspicion or probable cause of any threat and security risk. The plaintiffs charge the defendants regularly exposed the detainees’ naked bodies to officers of the opposite sex and subjected their bodies to harmful and extremely offensive touching.

The plaintiffs described the defendants’ conduct as torture.

“Defendants’ treatment of Plaintiffs and other class members is intolerable in a civilized society, and presents a marked departure from the standard to which the Western world adheres for the treatment of prisoners of war during wartime, let alone the standards of acceptable treatment for American citizens on American soil,” the lawsuit states.

Tabitha Gentry and the three other named plaintiffs were all arrested separately between February 2013 and May 2014 on various misdemeanor charges such as public intoxication and disorderly conduct. After being arrested and taken to the county jail, each allege they had their shoes, pants, shirt, and underwear removed by the Floyd County Sheriff’s deputies and were given only a small blanket, called a “smock,” with which to cover themselves. Also, they were not allowed to use the restroom facilities, having instead to use a drain in the floor as a toilet.

The lawsuit accuses the jail employees of dispensing pepper spray into Gentry’s cell then forcing her to walk naked to and from a washing station in front of male officers and male inmates. The suit also alleges that a Taser was used on plaintiff Vincent Minton’s buttocks, and plaintiff Adam Walker was subjected to Taser use seven times and choked until he lost consciousness.

Plaintiffs assert that through the “intentional and grossly negligent conduct” of the defendants, they were deprived of their rights guaranteed by the Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, Ninth and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

In addition, the plaintiffs allege they have suffered “physical harm, emotional distress, embarrassment, humiliation and mental anguish” as a result of the defendants not providing the proper training regarding unlawful searches, the reasonable use of force and the rights of detainees.

The lawsuit concludes that the plaintiffs and members of the class are entitled to both actual damages and punitive damages.

Moreover, the plaintiffs and the class requested the U.S. District Court to issue a declaratory judgment deeming unconstitutional all written policies and unwritten practices that subject detainees to these “humiliating and/or torturous practices” and to permanently enjoin the defendants from following or enforcing such policies and procedures.

 

 

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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