Two men once detained at the Jackson County jail have filed separate lawsuits saying sewage frequently backed up in their cells and the stench was so intense at times that they could not sleep.
One lawsuit filed Wednesday by Joshua Riechmann in federal court in Kansas City, Missouri, alleges his jail cell stunk like a sewer, and that human waste backed up into his toilet when inmates in adjoining cells flushed.
Another federal lawsuit last month by Nicholas Ayers alleges he had to lug water to his second-floor cell from the floor below to get his toilet to flush. He says he was injured when he fell carrying a plastic trash can full of water one night when the smell in his cell was so bad he couldn't sleep.
Both lawsuits claim that jail staff was indifferent to addressing inmate complaints.
A statement by Jackson County Executive Frank White's office said that the detention center has roughly 1,000 toilets and hundreds of showers and sinks, making leaks and clogs routine. The detention complex has two plumbers on staff and a contract with an outside vendor to respond to emergency plumbing needs after hours and on weekends, the statement said.
The detention center and adjacent Regional Correctional Center are designed to house 900 inmates awaiting trial on felonies, serving out short sentences or waiting to post bond for minor offenses.
Riechmann, who was booked into the jail last September on a warrant for a still-pending DWI case in Carroll County and other charges that later were dismissed, was housed on the site's fifth floor. But his lawsuit alleges he and other inmates were moved to the third floor in early March because there was black mold throughout the fifth floor. He was released from the jail earlier this month.
Ayers, now serving a 15-year prison sentence for assault and armed criminal action, was awaiting trial a year ago and housed on the jail's second floor when he said he endured unsanitary conditions.
His lawsuit alleges that the plumbing pipe in his cell broke twice in January of last year, that his water was shut off, and sewage from an adjacent cell flowed into his dry toilet bowl and occasionally spilled over.
The lawsuits seek unspecified damages.