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Fremont woman alleges wrongdoing at Seneca County Jail, launches lawsuit against officials

TiffinOhio.net Staff

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TIFFIN — A new lawsuit filed last week in Seneca County Common Pleas Court alleges wrongdoing at the Seneca County Jail.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Michele Seaman, of Fremont. Seaman is the sister of Rachael Ann Peak and also serves as administrator for Peak’s estate.

Peak was locked up at the jail in 2017 on a misdemeanor theft charge, according to the lawsuit.

Seaman is suing Seneca County Sheriff Bill Eckelberry, the Seneca County Board of Commissioners, and four corrections officers at the Seneca County Jail (Barton, Branson, Brooks, and Castanien), accusing them of failing to keep inmates at the jail safe, putting inmates in overcrowded conditions, failing to timely recognize emergency medical issues, and failing to get medical assistance for said issues in a timely manner.

Peak was transported and discharged to Tiffin-Mercy Hospital on December 10, 2017 after she was found to be lethargic and disoriented in her jail cell, according to the lawsuit.

Doctors said while Peak was incarcerated, she entered into an “altered mental state,” which was determined to be brain damage resulting from infective endocarditis, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit states jail officials delayed in requesting emergency transport for Peak, who was later transported to another hospital via Life Flight.

Peak eventually died from organ failure on April 29, 2018, the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit points out that the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections conducted an inspection of the Seneca County Jail on December 4, 2017, while Peak was incarcerated.

On the date of inspection, several areas of the facility showed signs of disrepair, according to an ODRC report reviewed by TiffinOhio.net News:

  • Temporary beds were used to compensate for overcrowding
  • It was observed that light bulbs in many of the inmate living areas were burnt out which resulted in low light meter requirements
  • A bottom metal panel on a shower was pulled away from a wall, graffiti on many of the walls in housing/cell areas
  • Urinals not operable
  • Vent covers had debris covering proper ventilation
  • A drinking fountain was not operational
  • Security tinting on windows removed
  • A hole in the drywall in an inmate living area

“Justice for my sister!,” Michele Seaman said after the lawsuit was filed.

Judge Steve Shuff of the Seneca County Common Pleas Court will be handling the case.

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