The county appears to have settled the lawsuit of a woman who said she was wrongly placed on suicide precautions and strip-searched at the Stark County Jail.
Hope Steffey’s case gained notoriety after video of sheriff’s deputies forcibly removing her clothing was televised in early 2008.
Now, it’s close to being over, at least as the county, Sheriff Timothy A. Swanson and his deputies are concerned.
In an order dated Friday, U.S. District Court Judge David D. Dowd Jr. wrote that the county defendants and the plaintiffs had entered a resolution of the case “reserving only a determination by the Court as to the amount of attorney fees and costs.
“As a consequence, the plaintiff’s case against the county defendants has been concluded,” the judge wrote.
The order doesn’t detail terms of the settlement.
David B. Malik, an attorney for Steffey, and James A. Climer, the attorney provided by the county’s insurance carrier, said they couldn’t discuss the case.
Calls seeking comment were left with Swanson.
The county carries liability insurance for cases such as this, but has a deductible of $100,000, said Stark County Administrator Michael Hanke. Insurance covers any payment in excess of that amount.
Hanke said he has already set aside the $100,000 in anticipation of paying the deductible for the Steffey case because the legal fees associated with the year-and-a-half-long legal battle likely exceed $100,000.
“We were not actually participating in any settlement negotiations, and it was completely out of our hands,” said Brian Zimmerman, the attorney for the deputies and corrections officers sued by Steffey.
“My clients did not pay one penny, nor would they,” Zimmerman added.
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