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La Porte County Settles Civil Rights Lawsuit Involving Jail Inmate

In January of 2016, La Porte Resident Marcin Kulbacki filed a lawsuit against the La Porte County Sheriff’s Department and several of its officers in the Northern District of Indiana.  The federal civil rights lawsuit alleged that jail officers violated his constitutional rights and used excessive force inside the jail. 

“Video from the jail shows Mr. Kulbacki walking into the jail handcuffed and calm without any physical injuries,” said Scott Barnhart of Keffer Barnhart LLP, who represented Mr. Kulbacki.  “However, when he walked out of the jail later that day, the jail’s book-in photo shows significant physical injuries to his eye and face.”  Medical records later revealed that Mr. Kulbacki suffered from a fracture of his sinus wall.  Despite the fact that he was handcuffed, officers acknowledged that Mr. Kulbacki was tased inside the shower area of the jail, which is the only area inside the facility that does not have surveillance cameras.  Later, following the shower incident, video shows one of the jailers grabbing Mr. Kulbacki, who was handcuffed, and forcing him into a wall.   Mr. Kulbacki was then placed inside a cell in the jail and was not seen by any medical staff.

“It is our hope that Mr. Kulbacki’s case has caused or causes La Porte County to re-evaluate whether a taser is an appropriate law enforcement tool inside a controlled facility,” said Mr. Barnhart.  He continued, “a civil rights lawsuit like this one serves as an important reminder about the constitutional rights of incarcerated individuals to the community and to jail officers or employees who may not know, may have forgotten, or may not care about those important rights.  While a person may be appropriately arrested, he or she does not deserve to be inappropriately assaulted or abused by a guard or guards inside a jail.”

The parties reached a settlement in the case.  The federal court’s online docket system shows that a motion to dismiss was filed and granted by the court.