Jail sued by inmate who fell from bunk

Ron McKie
A still image from video shows Ron McKie fall from a bunk at the Van Buren County Jail in October 2015.

PAW PAW, Mich. (WOOD) — Surveillance video from inside the Van Buren County Jail shows an inmate falling from a top bunk and hitting his head. Now, that inmate is suing.

Jail documents show the inmate, Ron McKie, was supposed to be assigned to a bottom bunk because of his epilepsy.

The video shows McKie waking up from a nap one afternoon in October 2015. It almost looks like he’s stretching when suddenly, he drops.

“He hurt himself pretty badly,” said Christopher Trainor, the attorney representing McKie in a federal lawsuit.

The lawsuit says Borgess Hospital determined that McKie had a broken nose, cracked eye socket, broken shoulder and head injury.

“Headaches, he’s got blurry vision, he’s got memory problems,” his lawyer added.

He and his client say the fall could and should have been prevented. Jail documents Trainor obtained through the Freedom of Information Act staff at the jail signed medical instructions saying McKie should be placed on a bottom bunk. The lawsuit says McKie was assigned to a bottom bunk until Oct. 9, 2015, when he was reassigned to the top bunk.

“He complained about being on the top bunk and they told him, ‘Too bad. Deal with it,'” Trainor said.

Three days later, he fell.

The lawsuit said that while McKie was at the hospital, a jail lieutenant told him his sentence would be suspended if he didn’t “press the issue.” 24 Hour News 8 found no proof of that, but according to jail records, McKie did have the remainder of his sentence suspended due to his injury. He was released from custody seven days after being sentenced to 180 days in jail for a felony break-in.

“We wouldn’t want this to happen to any of our family members,” Trainor said.

The lawsuit is asking for $75,000 plus costs, interest and attorney fees.

The jail administrator, Manny Delarosa, told 24 Hour News 8 Tuesday he could not release a statement at this time.