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Wednesday, 11 November 2009 13:37

Lawsuit alleging poor treatment in Macon jail hits dead end

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A federal judge has dismissed a civil lawsuit by Maureen Lackey, a 45-year old Franklin resident who alleged discrimination by Macon County and the Sheriff’s Office.

Lackey, who suffers from epilepsy, claimed jailers denied her medicine after she was arrested for a DWI last January. Lackey had been carrying the unmarked pills in a Vitamin B bottle.

She claimed she underwent seizures at the jail and urinated on herself after not being allowed to use the bathroom. Lackey said she felt humiliated after jailers laughed at her as she experienced seizures. She claimed the experience worsened her condition and sought compensation for medical expenses.

Macon County Sheriff Robbie Holland called the allegations “frivolous” and said the dismissal of the suit confirms his faith in the legal system. Holland believes the allegations were an attempt by Lackey to stave off prosecution for the DWI charge.

“Ultimately her attempt to improperly influence a criminal prosecution, and also to avoid personal responsibility, failed,” Holland said.

Federal Judge Dennis Howell dismissed the case not so much on its merits, but because of several technicalities. Howell ruled the complaint should have targeted the sheriff rather than Macon County and the entire Sheriff’s Department. While Lackey later asked the clerk of court to amend the complaint to include the sheriff, the judge found no evidence that the clerk actually did so.

Lackey could not receive compensation for medical treatment anyway, because it is not likely that she will again suffer the same alleged harm in the future, the judge wrote. In order to obtain injunctive relief, a plaintiff must demonstrate a “sufficient likelihood” that the defendants will harm her again in the same manner unless restrained.

“The Sheriff cannot be compelled to provide her with medical care when she is no longer in custody,” wrote Judge Howell.

Macon County Sheriff Robbie Holland said no disciplinary action had been taken against any of his employees.

Since Lackey’s first DWI arrest, she has been arrested for another DWI, writing bad checks, simple assault contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and misdemeanor child abuse.

“I demand professionalism from my staff and that is exactly what Ms. Lackey received in this incident, as well as her other subsequent arrests on other charges,” wrote Holland in an official statement.

Lackey could not be reached for a statement, because her cell phone had been disconnected.

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