In the lawsuit, the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs says the department had reduced staffing at the maximum security Central Men's Jail and a deputy was no longer assigned to the roof of the building, which was used for inmate recreation.
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The roof was at the center of the escape plan by Hossein Nayeri, 37, Jonathan Tieu, 20, and Bac Duong, 43, who made their break on Jan. 22. Authorities have said the trio cut through a metal grate and moved behind jail walls to reach the roof, then rappelled down four stories to freedom using a makeshift rope of bed sheets.
Jailers did not realize the inmates were missing for 16 hours.
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The three later abducted a taxi driver at gunpoint and held him for a week while they traveled to San Jose. Duong was arrested after he surrendered on Jan. 29 in Santa Ana, while the other two were caught the next day after a homeless man alerted police to their stolen van in San Francisco.
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Lt. Mark Stichter, a Sheriff's Department spokesman, said staffing is being reviewed after the jailbreak.
The lawsuit also alleges that contractors working in the jail in the past have accidentally left behind saw blades in inmate areas and that radio communication inside the jail is poor.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.