Following an agreement to settle a federal lawsuit, Portage County's insurance provider will pay $175,000 to the estate of a Williams County man who died in February 2011 after falling off a top bunk in his cell in the Portage County jail.
In the lawsuit, filed in federal court in Akron in November 2011, it was alleged that Joshua D. McDaniel, 25, of Bryan, Ohio -- jailed for violating his probation on a felony drug conviction in Portage County Common Pleas Court in July 2009 -- was assigned the top bunk in a cell at the Portage County jail on Feb. 11, 2011, even though he had been known to suffer seizures and jail staff recommended he be assigned a lower bunk to prevent falls.
During the night, McDaniel apparently had a seizure, fell out of the bunk, and suffered head trauma that led to his death at Akron City Hospital, according to the sheriff's office and media reports.
The suit by McDaniel's estate named Portage County commissioners; Portage County Sheriff David Doak; jail staff; Correctional Healthcare Companies Inc. of Colorado, the medical service provider at the jail; and several other defendants.
According to the settlement documents, obtained Friday from Portage County Prosecutor Victor Vigluicci through a public records request, McDaniel's estate settled with the county's insurance provider for $175,000 on Jan. 7.
Terms of the settlement include that McDaniel's estate will release the county and Portage County jail staff from any additional claims or liability. The county and other defendants admit no liability or crimes as part of the settlement.
Vigluicci said despite a confidentiality agreement between the parties regarding the settlement, he could release documents relating to it because "nothing the county does with public money can be confidential."
Correctional Healthcare Companies Inc. also apparently settled with McDaniel's estate, according to documents received through the records request, though the amount and terms of the settlement were not immediately clear.
McDaniel's mother, Debbie Veith, told WJW-TV in Cleveland in December 2011 that her son had diabetes. Her attorney also told the news station a jail nurse wrote a memo to corrections officers saying McDaniel had to sleep in a lower bunk because he suffered from seizures.
The sheriff's office did not immediately report the death to local media, Doak later explained, because it resulted from a medical issue that, if made public, could have violated McDaniel's medical privacy rights.
As a result of McDaniel's death and the deaths of four other inmates, Doak sent corrections officers for further training, installed $100,000 worth of additional cameras in the jail and had the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections inspect the jail and its policies and procedures.Since October 2011, no inmates have died while in custody at the jail.
Besides McDaniel, the other inmates who died were:
n Kenneth R. Mantell, 26, of Stow. Arrested by Streetsboro police on misdemeanor domestic violence and child endangering charges, he hanged himself from the top bunk of a jail bed on May 21, 2010, and died in a hospital on July 5. His family has sued Portage County, Doak, jail staff, and Streetsboro police.
n Mark D. Shaver, 32, of Kent. He died Nov. 5, 2010, at Akron City Hospital after suffering a medical ailment in his jail cell and being found unconscious by jail staff two days after being arrested by Brimfield police for stealing merchandise from Walmart. Police Chief David Oliver said his officers chased Shaver, a heroin addict, for two miles before cornering him, shocking him with a Taser when he refused to follow their commands to surrender, and placing him under arrest.
His family sued Brimfield police, Portage County, Doak and various other agencies and individuals. Oliver said Friday many of the allegations against his agency have since been dismissed.
n Amanda Michael, 32, of Brimfield. Jailed for multiple alleged probation violations, she hanged herself by a sheet from an upper bunk in the jail and died at Robinson Memorial on Nov. 9, 2010, after being in a coma for several weeks. Her death was ruled a suicide by the Portage County Coroner's Office.
n Matthew P. DiBease, 29, of Kent. Jailed on a warrant for failing to appear for a hearing in Portage County Municipal Court, he hanged himself by a sheet in his cell and died at Robinson Memorial on Oct. 29, 2011.
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