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Published: Wednesday, 2/8/2012

Lucas County to pay $350,000 over ex-inmate assaulted at jail

KATE GIAMMARISE
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Former Lucas County Jail inmate Jeff L. Jones suffered a collapsed lung and fractured ribs when he assaulted at the Lucas County jail. Former Lucas County Jail inmate Jeff L. Jones suffered a collapsed lung and fractured ribs when he assaulted at the Lucas County jail.
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Lucas County commissioners Tuesday approved a $350,000 settlement with a man who was assaulted by a corrections officer in 2007 at the Lucas County jail.

Jeffrey Jones of Findlay suffered a collapsed lung and fractured ribs when he was assaulted in the jail.

In 2009, former Corrections Officer Seth Bunke was sentenced to four years in federal prison and was found guilty of three counts of violating civil rights -- one felony and two misdemeanor counts. He was convicted of assaulting two inmates who were in custody at the jail -- one of whom was Jones -- and of portraying himself as a police officer when he stopped a driver he suspected of drunken driving.

The assault on Jones led to Bunke's resignation and federal conviction. Bunke was also found guilty of using excessive force on inmate Jason Pope.

On Tuesday, Lucas County Assistant Prosecutor John Borell said the settlement was less expensive for the county than fighting a lawsuit.

Former Lucas County corrections officer Seth Bunke is escorted from federal court in Toledo, Ohio, Oct. 14, 2008. He was charged with assaulting inmates at the Lucas County Jail. Former Lucas County corrections officer Seth Bunke is escorted from federal court in Toledo, Ohio, Oct. 14, 2008. He was charged with assaulting inmates at the Lucas County Jail.
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Jones had sued Bunke, the county, and the sheriff's department in a lawsuit in U.S. District Court.

"It was simply cheaper in the long run to cut off liability," said Mr. Borell. "The commissioners did not want to go on with endless expenses on the case."

The settlement is the only litigation the county faced relating to Bunke. It also paid a $7,000 settlement to the driver stopped by Bunke when he impersonated a police officer.

The amount of the settlement was based on Jones' injuries, the county's liability, the expense of attorney's fees, and Bunke's conviction, Mr. Borell said.

"That [$350,000] is unusually high. Frankly, the county doesn't settle many cases. This is one of the higher ones, at least in my experience," said Mr. Borell, who has worked for the prosecutor's office for nearly 15 years.

Joanna Baron, the attorney for Jones, declined to comment.



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