Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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March 20, 2014

Amputee inmate sues Indiana jail over injuries

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An amputee sued a central Indiana jail Thursday that he said repeatedly placed him in an upper bunk from which he fell and was injured when he damaged his prosthetic leg.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed the federal lawsuit against the Tippecanoe County sheriff on Thursday. County jails in Indiana, including the jail in Lafayette, are administered by the local sheriff's department.

Anthony Overla, 28, said he was repeatedly placed in the 6-foot-high bunk, which had no ladder, forcing him to jump to get down. On one jump the jar damaged his prosthesis and caused a screw to break in half, and metal from the screw pierced his stump, he said. The resulting infection was inadequately treated and eventually led to MRSA, the complaint said.

Overla also was forced to hop around on one leg to take a shower and fell several times, according to the lawsuit. Jail officers generally ignored his complaints, the suit claimed, and a doctor told him his condition was untreatable and gave him Tylenol and an ice pack.

Overla, whose right leg is amputated below the knee, is serving a term for failing to register as a sex offender.

The ACLU cites violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the federal Rehabilitation Act, and a state law that obligates county sheriffs to "(t)ake care of the county jail and the prisoners there."

The Tippecanoe County Sheriff's Department in Lafayette didn't immediately return a phone message from The Associated Press seeking comment.

Last October, Overla was transferred to the state's Plainfield Correctional facility, where he was treated and his prosthesis repaired, the suit said.

Before that, however, the suit alleges that the jail commander and other jail officers sat in on a phone call between Overla and his ACLU attorneys at which the commander, Denise Saxton, told him, "No judge will side with an inmate."

Saxton did not return phone calls from The Associated Press seeking comment. Messages also were left with the Indiana Department of Correction.

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