Wrongful death lawsuit filed against Jackson County Jail

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The family of a Louisville woman who died this past summer at a Seymour hospital after she was allegedly denied treatment at the Jackson County Jail for severe illness has filed a lawsuit against agency members in federal court.

The 36-page complaint, filed Oct. 15 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, alleges seven jail workers failed to perform their respective duties to care for 23-year-old Ta’Neasha Chappell, taking “grossly negligent” actions that “negated her chances of survival,” before she died on July 16.

Jackson County Sheriff Rick Meyer and Jail Commander Chris Everhart are also listed as defendants in the complaint, which claims the two “knowingly acquiesced in the unconstitutional customs and practices which led to an inhumane and unlivable environment at the Jackson County Jail … .”

“Jackson County Jail, Meyer, and Everhart, at all times relevant herein, employed a widespread custom or practice of ignoring detainees/inmates’ serious medical needs, depriving inmates of timely and reasonable access to inmate medical care, and failing to provide a sufficient number of qualified, on-site medically trained personnel to assure that emergency medical care was available when medical emergencies arise,” the complaint states.

In the complaint, it alleges the Brownstown jail violated Chappell’s Eighth and 14th Amendment rights, and the Jackson County Jail has a lengthy history of “cruel and unusual punishment” with detainees.

The lawsuit’s claims include: deliberate indifference to serious medical needs resulting in cruel and unusual punishment; Monell violations: policy or custom of deliberate indifference to the medical needs resulting in cruel and unusual punishment; negligence, gross negligence; and wrongful death.

Chappell, who had been detained since May 26, fell ill on July 15. The complaint says Chappell vomited blood, had a fever and defecated herself all while pleading with jail workers for medical attention on multiple occasions.

Jail staff accused Chappell of faking her illness, and it took almost 24 hours until EMS was called to help her, the complaint says. The complaint also contends qualified medical personnel were not present to help Chappell in the early stages of her illness, and when a nurse finally saw her on July 16, she was given a Tylenol. At one point, Chappell fell and hit her head because she felt weak, creating greater injury, the complaint states.

“EMS workers noted the severe nature of Ta’Neasha’s condition; she was jaundiced, nonverbal, had bile dried to her lips, had yellow eyes and a very large yellowing on her chest, had obvious trauma to her head and struggled with ambulating,” the compliant contends.

Chappell later died at Schneck Medical Center in Seymour. The investigation into the jail death is being handled by Indiana State Police, and an autopsy has not yet been released.

LaVita McClain, Chappell’s mother, is being represented by Louisville attorney Craig Aguiar and Indianapolis attorney Dan Canon. The plaintiffs are requesting $30 million for compensatory damages.

The defendants are proceeding pro se.

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