Indiana woman reaches $640K settlement in son’s jail death

Shane Satterfield (Provided Photo)

GREENSBURG, Ind. (AP) — A southeastern Indiana woman has reached a $640,000 settlement in her wrongful death lawsuit that accused local officials of “callousness or reckless indifference” in her son’s death at a county jail.

Lynn Brewsaugh had sued Decatur County’s sheriff and the county’s jail staff in federal court over the March 2014 death of her son, M. Shane Satterfield. The Greensburg man was serving a 14-day sentence for drunken driving when he died at the jail.

A coroner determined that Satterfield, 38, died of natural causes from complications of alcohol withdrawal.

Brewsaugh’s attorney, Stephen Wagner, said a confidentiality agreement bars Brewsaugh from revealing specifics about the settlement.

But county Auditor Janet Chadwell told the Greensburg Daily News that the county’s liability insurance company told her it settled the lawsuit for $640,000.

Brewsaugh said the settlement was reached late last year in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis. Court documents show the case was dismissed Dec. 30.

The settlement award was split between Brewsaugh and Satterfield’s father.

Brewsaugh said that while the settlement brought some justice, it’s an empty victory.

“I miss my son immensely,” she said. “Nothing can bring him back. I struggle with it every day.”

Brewsaugh alleged that the jail staff didn’t properly respond to Satterfield’s deteriorating condition, which included hallucinations, talking to imaginary people and believing there was a bomb in his cell. She also alleged that staff placed her son on a 30-minute medical watch but allowed hours to pass between checks.

Inspections at the time of Satterfield’s death indicated that the jail in Greensburg, about 50 miles southeast of Indianapolis, did not have sufficient staff to adequately supervise all of the inmates around the clock and that the number of inmates exceeded the jail’s stated capacity.

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