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Estate of man found hanging at Cuyahoga County jail files wrongful death lawsuit

Posted at 12:16 PM, Dec 12, 2019

CLEVELAND — Attorneys representing the estate of a man who was found hanging in his cell in the Cuyahoga County Jail last year announced Thursday that a wrongful death lawsuit has been filed against the county.

Attorneys with Friedman and Gilbert in Cleveland are held a news conference about the lawsuit at 1 p.m. Thursday.

According to the lawsuit, Gregory Fox, 36, was a pre-trial detainee when the incident happened. The lawsuit claims that jail employees "failed to provide Gregory with necessary mental health care and medication and failed to take necessary steps to prevent his suicide."

When Fox was admitted to the facility, he told jail staffers about his mental illness and that he had previously attempted suicide, the lawsuit states. After hearing this from Fox, employees assigned him to general population instead of placing him on suicide watch. The lawsuit says Fox's mental illness should have alerted staffers to the fact that he was a high risk of suicide.

While assigned to general population, the lawsuit claims that Fox asked various corrections officers for mental health care and medication. He also told jailers that he was at risk of suicide, the lawsuit states.

On the day of the incident, the lawsuit says that jail pods were in lock down due to low staffing levels. A guard who was tasked with watching over Fox's pod was placed in charge of watching over two pods—something the guard had never been required to do before.

Attorneys say that the guard was unable to manage both pods alone and that jail employees "failed to monitor Mr. Fox on regular intervals."

Fox was later found hanging in his cell with a sheet wrapped around his neck. Fox was taken to MetroHealth Medical Center and died two days later.

The lawsuit accuses defendants in the case of making false, misleading or incomplete statements to paint an "incomplete version of the events to certain superiors to cover up their own misconduct and failure."

Last year, the U.S. Marshals released a report detailing problems at the Cuyahoga County Jail that included "inhumane" conditions prisoners were forced to live.

A total of eight county jail inmates died in the last half of 2018.

View a timeline of the issues at the jail, including the inmates deaths, here.

Since that time, multiple jail guards have come under scrutiny for their behavior at the jail and some have been indicted for criminal acts that included assaulting inmates and selling drugs in the facility.

Several county and jail administrators have also been brought up on charges, including Ken Mills, who is the former jail director, and Eric Ivey, who is the former warden.

News 5 has extensively covered the problems surrounding the county jail such as abuse, suicides, lawsuits, accidental releases and leadership issues. You can find our reporting here.

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