In $1 million suit, former Sevier County inmate alleges attack

Nov. 27, 2013 @ 11:22 PM

A former inmate in the county’s minimum security jail has filed a federal lawsuit seeking $1 million based on a claim he was injured in an assault in a wing nicknamed the “Thunderdome,” and that jailers could have prevented the attack.

Terry Markum was serving time for DUI and domestic violence last year when, according to the complaint, he was attacked by three other inmates while he was in the bathroom. The lawsuit, filed by Knoxville attorney Ursula Bailey, says he suffered a broken eye socket, cracked teeth and injuries to his head and a knee.

He was taken to a hospital, according to the complaint, but received no follow-up care through the county.

Sheriff Ron Seals said he had not seen the lawsuit and couldn’t comment on it.

Markum claims one of the three men had threatened him in the presence of a jailer on Nov. 16, 2012, the day before the alleged attack. Another of the three, according to the lawsuit, another of the three alleged attackers — identified only as “Spanky” — was charged with attacking another inmate, but was allowed to stay in the same wing.

The lawsuit claims the jail rules called for “Spanky” to be removed after the first incident. “Any act of violence by (any) inmate in the annex was cause for removal of from the annex,” the lawsuit states. Despite that, the complaint claims the section of the facility where Markum and the other inmates were housed, C-Pod, was nicknamed “‘Thunrderdome,’ due to the high number of fights that took place there.”

It claims there were three or four fights a week in the pod.

Markum claims “Spanky” was prosecuted for the attack on him; the lawsuit doesn’t say whether any actions were taken against the other two inmates.

The lawsuit claims the jail’s protections were inadequate, and that the attack amounted to cruel and unusual punishment.

It seeks $500,000 in compensation for his injuries and another $500,000 in punitive damages.

Bailey represents another inmate who filed a complaint against the jail; Timothy Clabough claims he received inadequate medical care when he suffered a staph infection at the jail and that, as a result, doctors later removed his large intestine. He is also seeking $1 million.

jfarrell@themountainpress.com