INDIANAPOLIS – A settlement has been reached regarding a lawsuit surrounding the death of a man who was in custody at the Jackson County Jail.
As a result of the settlement, claims against Jackson County and personnel related to the lawsuit have been vacated. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed. The involved parties have 60 days to file the “appropriate dismissal papers,” the order said.
Claims against two other defendants, Advanced Correctional HealthCare Inc. and a doctor in its employ, are still unresolved. The company is a contractor that provides health care for inmates at the jail.
The lawsuit involves Joshua McLemore, who died after being taken to the jail on July 20, 2021. He was pronounced dead at a Cincinnati hospital on Aug. 10, 2021, after being removed from life support. He was 29 years old.
An investigation from Indiana State Police found McLemore died due to lack of attention by jail staff, but the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office said the negligence did not rise to the level of a criminal offense.
A federal lawsuit filed on McLemore’s behalf earlier this year sought damages, including compensation for mental, physical and emotional pain, along with punitive damages, attorneys’ fees and other applicable relief.
McLemore had a history of substance abuse and mental health issues. He was eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia; the Mississippi native moved to Seymour in 2020.
In July 2021, Seymour police went to check on McLemore after someone concerned for his wellbeing contacted them. He was taken to an area hospital and arrived in an “agitated state.” After he pulled a nurse’s hair during an examination, police took him to the Jackson County Jail.
McLemore, who was described as “incoherent” and “unfocused,” made random noises and sounds. He was taken to a padded cell; personnel were unable to get him to wear a jail smock. He spent much of his time in captivity naked.
He left the cell only when guards removed him to clean it and get him a shower, according to the lawsuit. During his 20 days in solitary confinement, he slept for only 15 hours. He lost nearly 45 pounds and rarely ate or drank.
McLemore walked in his own waste, rolled around in it and ate food from it, according to the lawsuit. A mental health professional was not summoned to check on him, the lawsuit alleged.
EMTs took McLemore to an area hospital on Aug. 8. He spent about four hours in the emergency department, where he was diagnosed with “hypoxia (insufficient oxygen in his body tissues), encephalopathy (disease affecting brain function), acute renal failure, hypernatremia (too much sodium in his blood, indicative of severe dehydration), and rhabdomyolysis (breakdown of damaged muscle tissue, characteristic of someone who has been lying in one place for a long time without normal movement).”
He was then airlifted to a Cincinnati hospital at 12:15 a.m. on Aug. 9, 2021. By the morning of Aug. 10, he was in a coma and on life support. He was pronounced dead at 5:05 p.m.