HAMMOND | A federal judge signed off Friday on a $7.2 million settlement Lake County has agreed to pay to inmates who complained about jail conditions.
More than 8,000 people have filed claims and are expected to get a percentage of the settlement, said attorney Samantha Liskow, whose Chicago-based firm Loevy & Loevy, represents some inmates in the case.
U.S. District Court Judge Philip Simon gave preliminary approval to the settlement agreement earlier this year but made it official Friday.
Inmates who were confined for 24 hours or longer in a holding cell at the Lake County Jail between May 13, 2006, and Feb. 1 will be eligible to submit a claim for payment from the settlement, according to the agreement. The deadline for affected people to file claim forms in the case was Dec. 3, Liskow said.
Richard Flood, Roberto Cantu, Terrance Smith, Patrick Flood, Jacqueline Drankus, Edward Walker and David Kurcz sued the county, former Lake County Sheriff Roy Dominguez, former jail Warden Caren Jones, former Warden Benny Freeman and unknown jail supervisors in 2008, arguing the jail conditions were "inhumane."
They claimed inmates were held for weeks or months in overcrowded holding cells after their arrival and had to sleep directly on concrete. They also claimed medical care was "nearly nonexistent" and the floor of the jail had human waste on it, according to the initial complaint.