Man sues officials for jail accident

FULTONVILLE – An Amsterdam man is suing Montgomery County, the Montgomery County sheriff and medical personnel at the county’s correctional facility after he was injured while staying at the jail’s medical housing unit.

Robert Staley of Amsterdam filed a lawsuit July 18 in the U.S. District Court’s Northern District through his attorney, Elmer Robert Keach III. The lawsuit names the county, Montgomery County Sheriff Michael Amato, Montgomery County Jail Administrator Michael Franko, two nurses and other staff at the jail, and seeks punitive damages for a March 5 accident that may have crippled Staley.

The lawsuit said Staley was admitted to the Montgomery County Correctional Facility’s Medical Housing Unit on Jan. 21.

Keach said Friday Staley was held during the pre-trial period for a felony, but did not know what the charge was. Amato could not be reached for comment.

Stanley, who lost his left leg to diabetes, walked with a prosthetic leg. The lawsuit claims Staley was not allowed to use his prosthetic leg and had to use a wheelchair. To shower, Staley had to lift himself out of the wheelchair, hop into the shower on one leg, then hop back once done, according to the lawsuit.

Staley showed concern about hopping on the wet cell floor without the aid of a grab bar and requested a shower curtain to keep water in the stall, according to the lawsuit. Because he was able to get to the shower and back without assistance, the nurses denied access to a curtain, the lawsuit said.

Further requests for a shower curtain were denied by Franko, on the grounds that “he didn’t need it,” the lawsuit said.

On March 5, while hopping from the shower stall to his wheelchair, Staley slipped and fell on a pool of water in his cell, fracturing his hip. Extensive orthopedic surgery was required, and the lawsuit claims it may potentially end his ability to walk.

The lawsuit is seeking punitive damages and a trial by jury.

Keach said he found Staley’s case “well-founded and compelling.”

“We believe there should be a punishment [in this case],” Keach said.