Family of inmate sues Jackson County Sheriff and staff

SEYMOUR – The family of a 23-year-old Louisville woman, who died in July while incarcerated in the Jackson County Jail, has filed a $30 million civil suit against Jackson County Sheriff Rick Meyer, six of his jail officers and the jail nurse.

Attorney Sam Aguiar of Louisville filed the lawsuit Friday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana on behalf of LaVita McClain, mother of Ta’Neasha Chappell who died on July 16 at Schneck Medical Center in Seymour where she had been taken after becoming ill while in jail the day before.

Ta’Neasha Chappell

Sheriff Meyer, Jail Commander Chris Everhart, Jail Sgt. Josh Clark, jail nurse Ed Rutan, and jail officers Wendy Boshears, Scott Ferguson, Clayton Banister, Mark Reynolds, and Tami Baxter are all being sued for the wrongful death of Chappell.

The state police who are investigating Chappell’s death say the case remains under investigation.

Chappell was arrested on May 26, 2021, after she fled from a traffic stop on I-65 near Seymour after a report of a woman stealing numerous items at the Polo Ralph Lauren Factory Store at the Premium Outlet Mall near Edinburg.

The pursuit continued through three counties and lasted more than 30 minutes with speeds reaching more than 100 miles per hour. Numerous suspected stolen items, valued at more than $3,000 were located in the vehicle.  Police also found marijuana in her possession. 

Ta’Neasha Chappell the day of her arrest

After being arrested Chappell was transported to Schneck Medical Center in Seymour, for medical clearance and to submit a chemical test for intoxication.  She was medically cleared and transported to the Jackson County Jail on numerous felony and misdemeanor charges. She was being held on a $4,000 bond at the time of her death.

The lawsuit contends Chappell fell ill on July 15. She had a fever, was vomiting repeatedly and her vomit contained blood. Throughout that night, she continued vomiting and had diarrhea and continued asking for help.

Shortly after midnight, Chappell on July 16, requested help from jail staff through an intercom, according to court records.

A worker responded to her cell by providing her with a bucket for vomiting, according to court records.

Chappell made multiple requests for medical assistance throughout the night, and the lawsuit contends some requests were loud enough that other inmates heard her throughout the jail pod.

Throughout the night and into the morning of July 16, the lawsuit contends jail workers denied Chappell’s request for medical help. The lawsuit contends that no qualified medical personnel was working within the jail that night.

On the morning of July 16, Chappell did not report to breakfast. A little before 9 a.m., a jail nurse went to her cell. The nurse according to the lawsuit accused Chappell of faking her illness. She provided Chappell with a Tylenol.

The lawsuit contends Chappel continued to plea for help. Shortly before 11 a.m. Chappell fell to the floor and other inmates requested help for her.

Jail staff found her in the common area in her underwear and covered in vomit and feces. She was taken to her cell. She continued to request medical attention.

Later that afternoon, a jail worker escorted Chappell to another cell and had a hold of Chappell’s jumpsuit, let go and Chappell fell to the ground and hit her head.

The lawsuit contends that before Jackson County Emergency Medical personnel were called at around 3 p.m., Chappell was unable to communicate clearly or stand, was unclothed and covered in sweat, had a “decent-sized” bruise on her forehead, was jaundice.

When EMS was called, it had been more than 23 hours since Chappell first began vomiting, according to the lawsuit.

Chappell died the evening of July 16 at Schneck Hospital. Her family was notified of her death three hours later.