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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Davis files civil lawsuit over fire

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

(Photo)
Cody Davis
OREGON COUNTY -- The Sept. 6, 2007, fire in the Oregon County Jail, which resulted in the death of one inmate is now the bases for a civil lawsuit.

Cody Davis, 19, of Alton has filed a lawsuit against Oregon County, the Oregon County Sheriff's Department and Sheriff Tim Ward.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Springfield. He is seeking monetary damages of $1.1 million. Davis alleges in his complaint that his constitutional rights were violated, and is also seeking funds to pay for attorney fees for retaining legal counsel. He is seeking a jury trial.

In the complaint Davis alleges Ward failed to protect him against a dangerous environment. Davis was serving a 60-day sentence for theft of property.

Davis was incarcerated in the county jail when a fire broke out and one of the inmates, Jesse Johnson, 17, of Mammoth Spring was killed. The cause of death was ruled as smoke inhalation.

A report from Michael B. Johnson with the State Fire Marshal's office in Jefferson City ruled the fire had been set by an inmate.

The fire apparently started in the corner of a jail cell. The fire alarm sounded and the dispatcher on duty opened the door to the jail and saw thick smoke. He could not enter the jail area and called for help.

The fire was reportedly started with styrofoam cups, pieces of a Bible, pieces of mail and other items.

According to Presiding Commissioner Leo Warren, the County, the Sheriff's Department and Ward are being represented by counsel and responsive pleadings have been filed to answer Davis' complaint. He said the county, the Sheriff's Department and the Sheriff deny any wrong doing and will vigorously defend Davis' allegations.

"While this investigation is ongoing, we have thus far learned that proper policies and procedures were followed by the Sheriff's Department," Warren said.

The county is represented by the law firm of Keck & Austin, L.L.C. in Springfield.

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