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Second Former Lee County Jail Inmate Sues Over Mistreatment


Another former Lee County Jail inmate has filed a federal lawsuit, claiming his civil rights were violated during his incarceration. Michael Cassady said in his lawsuit that he did not receive proper medical care while housed in the jail for roughly 18 months starting in January 2015.

Cassady’s initial, handwritten complaint was filed in Sept. 2016 while serving time at the Clarinda Correctional Facility in Clarinda, Iowa. He filed it against the Lee County Jail, Fort Madison Community Hospital, jailers, nurses, and doctors. The hospital and its staff were eventually dropped from the complaint because Cassady made no complaints against them.

Cassady claimed he suffered seizures during his time in the Lee County Jail but staff did not do anything to help him.

“Lee County Jail Correctional Officers were not trained properly,” wrote Cassady in his handwritten complaint. “The Lee County Jail Correctional officers inappropriately responded to medical emergencies specifically of the four seizures I had. I didn’t receive appropriate medical care.”

Cassady claimed he was left on the floor of the recreation room for approximately 40 minutes during one of his seizures.

“Inmates provided a majority of the help,” wrote Cassady. “Inmates should not have been involved in my medical care.”

Cassady said he was eventually given medication that he believed harmed his condition.

“I was diagnosed with seizures years ago and Lee County Jail new (sic) it,” wrote Cassady. “They gave me medication I wasn’t suppose (sic) to take, which induced my seizures and caused spots on my brain, which made me experience prolonged pain.”

US District Court Chief Judge John Jarvey reviewed Cassady’s complaint in March 2017. He granted Cassady legal counsel and allowed the complaint to proceed as long as Cassady amended his claims to specific jail staff.

“[Cassday’s] allegations against the jail staff do not appear to be frivolous, but [Cassady] does not identify any particular defendant whose actions or failure to act harmed him. He lists ‘et al.’ as a defendant, but this vague reference is insufficient to allow service of process to be completed on a person. Construing the complaint liberally, however, the court will allow the suit to go forward,” wrote Judge Jarvey in his ruling.

Cassady’s amended complaint, filed June 20, 2017, names Lee County, former sheriff Jim Sholl, former jail administrator John Farmer, and three unidentified jail employees. The complaint states they are unidentified because Cassady does not know their names.

In his handwritten complaint, Cassady asked for $35 million for pain and suffering and current and future medical care.

The more formal complaint does not seek a specific damages to charges of Cruel and Unusual Punishment in Violation of the 8th Amendment to the US Constitution, Negligence and Gross Negligence, Tortious Infliction of Severe Emotional Distress. It does demand a jury trial.

Cassady’s lawsuit was filed about the same time as a lawsuit Craig Rockenbach filed against the Lee County Jail, the jail’s former health care provider, and several individuals. You can read more about it here.

Jason Parrott is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.