Indiana County Facing $8M Payout to Settle Suits Against Employees

A northwest Indiana county may pay more than $8 million to settle several lawsuits against county employees that allege misconduct and negligence led to several injuries and deaths.
The Lake County Council received a list of cases on Nov. 9 that Lake County Attorney John Dull recommended they settle to avoid trial and the possibility of greater damages.
The largest settlement would be $2.75 million to the family of 39-year-old inmate Gregory Smith of Hobart. He died two years ago in the county jail after a jailer used a stun gun on him. Smith’s family filed a lawsuit in 2015, alleging that the stun gun caused Smith to go into cardiac arrest.
The county would also pay $2.2 million in the death of 39-year-old inmate Adekunle Odumabo of Lansing, Illinois, who hanged himself in his county jail cell in April 2007. Odumabo’s family filed suit in 2009, alleging that Odumabo had repeatedly threated to kill himself and was released from court-ordered suicide watch after less than a day. Odumabo took his own life three days later, according to court documents.
The other lawsuits involve charges of police brutality, improper search and seizure, unlawful arrest and improper medical care.
The county is considering issuing bonds to cover the lawsuit settlements. The County Council will have a public hearing on the bond proposal in December. The money would then become available Feb. 1.
The county last issued a bond to cover court settlements in 2015. It paid $6.2 million to settle 59 cases. The largest case was against the jail and settled for $4.17 million.
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