Cuyahoga County calls request for testimony on allegedly tainted jail water a 'fishing expedition'

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Cuyahoga County has stated in court documents that county employees will not testify about potential water problems in the jail before any lawsuit is filed, calling court filings requesting the testimony a "fishing expedition."

On Oct.12, civil rights attorney David Malik filed court documents, requesting several county employees testify about potential problems with water at the jail, and that the water be scientifically tested.

On Nov. 16, the county responded in court filings, stating that Malik hadn't filed a lawsuit against the county in regards to the water issue, and that his filing was an attempt to gain evidence to build a case against the county.

Malik's initial filing came after he told Cleveland 19, a small sample of water from the jail tested positive for bacteria that can make people sick.

Malik said he admits his client's sample collection wasn't scientific, and the lab notes in its report that the sample wasn't large enough, wasn't collected in the proper container and was the wrong temperature when it was brought to the lab.

Malik said a now former inmate, Cecil Fluker, got sick, including things like having his skin break out in a type of hives after drinking water in the jail.

Cleveland 19 filed a public records request with the county on Oct. 23, asking for water quality reports and video from body cameras from jail guards who Fluker claimed saw discolored water and took pictures of it with those cameras.

That same day, Oct. 23, Cleveland 19 has learned that the county brought in a lab to scientifically test the water in the jail.

The results from the county's lab, which is a different lab than Malik used, stated that no bacteria was detected in the water at the jail.

A spokeswoman from the county said it is the first time that she believes that the county has brought in a lab to test water quality.

The state does not test water quality in its jail inspections.

The county spokeswoman suggested reaching out to the city of Cleveland's health department to see if they had done any prior water testing as, she said, the jail is "subject to state regulations and city department of health regulations."

She also went on to say that the water was tested as a result of the allegations, and that safety is a top priority.

Cleveland 19 will continue to update the story as new developments emerge.

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