Floyd County seeks to settle jail lawsuit for $1.23M

A southern Indiana county has proposed settling a federal class action lawsuit alleging inhuman conditions at its jail for $1.23 million.

The agreement reached last month between Floyd County and six former inmates is pending a judge’s approval, The (Louisville, Kentucky) Courier-Journal reported.

The lawsuit filed in 2014 alleges jail officers forcibly removed clothing from inmates who didn’t pose security threats, left them naked for prolonged periods and subjected them to excessive force.

The settlement agreement applies to inmates at the jail in New Albany not on suicide watch who were placed in a padded cell where they were deprived of clothes, bedding and hygiene products between mid-2012 and the present. Court records indicate about 200 people fit into that group of inmates.

Under the proposed agreement, plaintiffs’ attorneys would receive about $500,000 and each of the six named plaintiffs — three men and three women — would receive $15,000 for their time and energy on the case. Members of the class who were subjected to either pepper spray or a stun gun are eligible to file a claim for $3,000. Remaining funds would then be evenly divided among all members of the class who file a claim, up to $25,000 per person. Any money not given to plaintiffs would be returned to the defendants.

As part of the settlement, parties agreed on new officer training measures, noting that the “combative subjects” policy formerly in place at the jail is no longer in use.

Plaintiff attorney Laura Landenwich said the proposed settlement is still under review by a judge and has not yet been approved. The agreement compels the plaintiffs not to speak publicly about the case and their attorneys agreed to discuss publicly only information detailed in the court record and not to offer any opinions.

Messages seeking comment were left Friday for attorneys representing the county and other defendants in the case, which include former Floyd County Sheriff Darrell Mills and at least three people who were employed as jail officers.

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