Disabled man files discrimination suit against Cook Co. Sheriff's office

November 3, 2012 9:25:51 PM PDT
A disabled Chicago man filed a federal lawsuit this week against the Cook County Sheriff's office claiming discrimination.

Curtis Whisby, who has a partially amputated foot from an accident in 1991, says he was injured in a fall in August while in custody at the Cook County Jail.

"I was out cold," Whisby said.

He says he had a head injury, scraped his leg, and bruised his neck and back. Because he's disabled and can't climb stairs, he says he asked to stay on the jail's first floor.

"You put me on the second floor, and then you turn around and put me on the third floor, already knowing how hard it is for me to go up and down the stairs," he said.

Whisby's lawyer says his client was arrested for misdemeanor domestic battery July 29.

Whisby says he complained about his second-floor cell and was transferred to the third floor August 1, the same day he filed a grievance.

On August 3, he filed a health service request. He says he fell August 9 and was hospitalized.

"It takes an accident and a bad one to get their attention," attorney Neil Toppel said. "We hope this lawsuit gets their attention. We hope the sheriff revisits policies and procedures."

The Sheriff's Department fired back saying that Whisby "is no stranger to the Cook County Jail. He has been housed here four separate times prior to his latest incarceration for his 6th domestic battery with bodily harm charge, and this is his first issue with his housing assignment that we are aware of."

It goes on to say: "As we all know some people attempt to contrive lawsuits for financial gain. Whether this is one of them we will investigate further."

"It's time for the sheriff to get his house in order and change his policies and treat people with disabilities with respect," Toppel said.

When he left the hospital, Whisby says he was assigned a first-floor cell and his battery charge was dismissed.

"The reason I'm saying this is I don't want it to happen to anybody else," he said.

Whisby is seeking a jury trial.

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