Former inmate sues jail staff for $10 million

December 19, 2012

A woman who was incarcerated in the Washington County jail for three days while awaiting extradition to Buffalo, N.Y., filed a $10 million class action suit in federal court against the warden and various staff members, claiming she was mistreated and her constitutional rights were violated.

Marianne Sadelmyer, who gave as her address the Erie County Correctional Facility in Alden, N.Y., filed suit earlier this month in U.S. District Court, Pittsburgh, authorizing the use of prison account funds to pay for her filing fee as she acted as her own attorney and requesting that the court treat her as a pauper.

Sadelmyer said between Sept. 24 and 27, she was denied adequate medical care and subjected to “cruel and unusual punishment” including life-threatening abuse.

In her suit, she claimed she “and members of the class” were exposed to other people’s bodily fluids, that she was “forced into painful withdrawals with full medical knowledge there was a medical protocol to alleviate suffering” and that she was forced to lie on a concrete floor without pain medication even though she had just had two hip replacements.

Sadelmyer, who called herself disabled, also alleged that she and other inmates in the clinic were not given access to church, the commissary, library or law library, and that she filed two formal grievances but was not given a response.

“I was ignored,” she wrote in the suit, asking that the jail be forced to meet health standards, follow the Americans with Disabilities Act and pay punitive and actual damages of $10 million.

In asking the court to grant her relief, she asked that Warden Joseph Pelzer and Deputy Warden John Temas be instructed “to live in the bowels of their facility for a minimum of 60 days so they can fully grasp the Constitutional violations.”

County Solicitor J. Lynn DeHaven, asked to comment on Sadelmyer’s suit Wednesday, said, “I’m not aware of it. Somebody’s got to send it out. It’s up to the plaintiff to notify the defendants.” Sadelmyer did not name the county as a defendant, which is typically done in suits related to the jail.

“I never got a copy of that lawsuit,” Pelzer said.

Canonsburg police filed charges of access device fraud against Sadelmyer, 48, of Chartiers Township, in August. They learned that she has used dozens of aliases, nine dates of birth and 10 Social Security numbers. She was wanted in New York State as a material witness to a homicide. Washington County Judge Janet Moschetta Bell sentenced Sadelmyer to two years’ probation.

Barbara S. Miller covers politics, Washington County government and a variety of other topics for the Observer-Reporter. She is a graduate of Washington & Jefferson College, majoring in English and history. Follow her on Twitter @reporterbarb.

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