The Lake County Council is considering an $8.2 million bond to cover settlements in lawsuits, with nearly $5 million of that going to the families of two inmates who died in the jail.
The proposed bond covers the judgments in 10 cases, nine of which involve the Lake County Sheriff’s Department and the jail, according to the bond documents. Two of the lawsuits, filed on behalf of two inmates who died in the Lake County Jail, Gregory Smith and Adekunle Odumabo, will cost taxpayers almost $5 million.
The county settled the Smith case and agreed to pay his family $2.75 million, according to the bond documents,
and Odumabo’s estate will receive $2.2 million from the settlement.
Commissioners’ attorney John Dull said the bond would cover the settlements in the cases.
“The settlements were negotiated at less than the amount of money authorized,” Dull said. Smith’s family filed the lawsuit in 2015 after Smith was arrested in Hobart and taken to the county jail, according to court documents. Officers allegedly used a stun gun on Smith, which caused him to go into cardiac arrest, according to court documents, and he died.
Odumabo’s family filed suit in 2009 after he committed suicide while an inmate at the jail, according to court documents. The suit claimed that during a federal court hearing Odumabo repeatedly threatened to harm himself, according to court documents, and a judge ordered him to be placed on suicide watch.
While at the county jail, Odumabo was discharged from suicide watch after less than a day, according to court
documents, and three days later hanged himself with a bed sheet.
The other lawsuits include charges of police brutality, improper search and seizure, unlawful arrest and
improper medical care.
During a 2013 incarceration at the jail, Cedell Wright, who was known to have schizoaffective disorder, according to court documents, required medical treatment. Wright had developed bronchopneumonia in a lung and an undiagnosed fecal impact, according to court documents, but failed to get proper care. Wright died in March 2013. The county will pay Wright’s estate $800,000.
Mohamad Elmusa in 2013 was arrested on an outstanding warrant, according to court documents, and while at the jail officers put him in handcuffs and restrained his feet. After walking a short distance, three officers reportedly attacked Elmusa, according to court documents, and he was put in an isolation cell while still bleeding.
Elmusa, who was 68 at the time, was taken to a Merrillville hospital, according to court documents, and treated for a fractured shoulder, broken nose, bruised knee and leg and other injuries. Elmusa’s case was settled for $365,000.
Another lawsuit against the county and sheriff’s department sought damages for unpaid overtimecompensation.
The bond excludes one case that is still to be negotiated, Dull said, and will be added if the parties reach a settlement.
The council will hold a public hearing on the proposed bond in December. Dull said the timing will allow the money to be available on Feb. 1.
The county last issued a bond to cover court judgments in 2015, paying out $6.2 million resulting from 59 cases. The largest settlement paid by that bond was $4.17 million for a case against the jail.