Settlement over incident at Richland County Jail one of several payouts for county in recent years.

Settlement over incident at Richland County Jail one of several payouts for county in recent years.


God Bless Lou Whitmire for her courage to keep the voters informed!, too bad they don’t do something about this at the polls!. It’s time we start voting out the Judges and Prosecutors who are allowing this to happen!

MANSFIELD — A $325,000 settlement between Richland County and Kenneth Puckett and his mother, Melinda Puckett, was the largest such payout in the last couple of years, but not the only one.

The Puckett claim was made by a civil rights attorney after four Richland County Sheriff’s corrections officers left Kenneth Puckett, then a 17-year-old inmate, in the recreation area of the Richland County Jail with two overhead doors open during extremely cold temperatures for more than 2 hours. The incident was captured on video Jan. 26, 2011.

An internal investigation revealed Puckett also was slapped on the head by a Richland County corrections officer while in custody Dec. 31, 2010. The date of that incident was cited in the settlement agreement.

Since January 2010, Richland County has awarded six out-of-court settlements through the County Risk Sharing Authority.

A Bellville couple filed a lawsuit alleging a faulty medical test led to a lengthy separation from their children and an unwarranted sexual abuse allegation.

Mark and Tina Sams, of Bott Road, sued MedCentral Health System, IRIS International and Richland County Children Services. IRIS International makes urinalysis systems. The couple agreed to a $40,000 settlement June 10, 2011: $15,000 from MedCentral Health System, $15,000 from Richland County Children Services and $10,000 from Iris International Inc. The News Journal acquired the settlement information through a public records request.

The suit was filed Dec. 30, 2010, in Richland County Common Pleas Court after the couple took their 8-year-old daughter to the hospital to have her fever treated. The suit argued that a false test result was identified as an error within a day, but disrupted family life for three months. According to the lawsuit, a urine sample taken from the girl Jan. 2, 2009, was contaminated with sperm because a diagnostic machine, which was supposed to be self-cleaning, was flawed. Components from one specimen carried over into the next test.

According to the suit, about two hours after the urine sample was taken, hospital staff told the Samses a second test was being done because of a possible mistake and cross-contamination. The Samses were told the first test showed sperm present in the urine.

The lawsuit said that about 8 a.m. the next day, a nurse who investigates sexual abuse cases told the Samses their daughter had a simple bladder infection, and apologized for inconveniences that might later occur. The couple were told they could not take their daughter home because MedCentral had contacted Children Services, according to court papers.

The plaintiffs contend DNA tests proved negative on the father as a possible sexual perpetrator, and Children Services received conclusive test results indicating no sperm had been in the child’s urine.

“Despite the foregoing, Mark Sams was not permitted to return home nor visit with his (three) children until on or about Feb. 24, 2009, when he was granted visitation by court order,” it said.

The lawsuit claims Children Services did not dismiss its complaint against Mark Sams until March 18, 2009, and he wasn’t permitted to return home until around April 6, 2009.

The court filing argues that IRIS marketed a defective machine, and that MedCentral failed to clean the machine between samples, and reported possible child abuse to Children Services despite being aware of inaccuracies.

The lawsuit claimed Children Services committed an “extreme and outrageous” act by waiting six weeks from the time it learned the case against Mark Sams was unfounded to file a motion to dismiss.

Other settlements

» Jan. 27, 2010 — Local resident Dan Dees reaches a $5,000 settlement agreement in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, against Richland County, Sheriff J. Steve Sheldon, Lisa Kilgore and Cindy Campbell. Dees alleged he suffered a seizure and broken bones after the dosage of a medication he was taking was reduced.

» Oct. 20, 2011 — Edwin Griffeth and Jennifer Leech received a $20,000 settlement against various defendants in the local justice system. The settlement agreement released the following persons in their individual and official capacities: David Leitenberger, Dave Myers, James Mayer Jr., Bambi Couch Page, J. Steve Sheldon, Bob Mack, James Sweat, as well as the County of Ohio Risk Sharing Authority Inc., the Richland County Adult Parole Authority, Richland County Adult Court Services, The Richland County Prosecutors office, Richland County Sheriff’s Department and Richland County Commissioners. Leech and Griffeth filed the federal lawsuit in November 2010. It alleged Judge James DeWeese, county prosecutors, police and probation officers, and state and local government agencies conspired to harass them.

In total, the residents accused 27 defendants of a dozen counts of violating their rights, including unlawful arrest and malicious prosecution.

» Feb. 1, 2012 — Mark Drum reaches a $290,000 settlement with Richland County Sheriff J. Steve Sheldon, Capt. Eric Bosko and the Richland County Sheriff’s office.

Drum and the Ohio Labor Council previously filed a lawsuit against Sheldon and Bosko seeking $600,000, alleging battery, false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution and defamation.

Drum, of Delaware, was arrested in June 2009 during an investigation of — and by — the sheriff’s office. The treasurer and legislative chairman for the Fraternal Order of Police faced counts of obstructing justice, theft, receiving stolen property and tampering with evidence. A grand jury ruled there was not enough evidence to indict Drum.

» March 1, 2012 — A Madison couple settles in U.S. District Court for $20,000 on behalf of all of defendants against Richland County Sheriff’s Sgt. Jeff McBride and the Richland County Sheriff’s Office in the matter of Lucy England, et al, v. Jeff McBride. The case involved an investigation into alleged sexual abuse reported to Richland County Children Services in 2009. The National Institute for Truth Verification, Richland County Children Services were defendants. The suit claimed the actions of authorities resulted in the couple being unable to carry on the activities of daily living; and that the man was forced to defend unfounded charges of sexual abuse by his stepdaughter. The couple, who the News Journal is not naming to protect their juvenile child, filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District on Aug. 18, 2011.

Written by

Lou Whitmire

News Journal

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