About 1,800 current and former Florida prison inmates who were denied medical care for hernias will be entitled to divide $1.7 million in damages from a class-action lawsuit under a conditional settlement agreed to by the Department of Corrections and its former prison health-care provider, Corizon, and filed in federal court in Tallahassee last week.
The suit was brought by the Florida Justice Institute and the Coral Gables law firm of Kozyak Tropin & Throckmorton in September 2015 on behalf of three inmates. It alleged Corizon and the agency violated the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishments by denying the inmates medical care in an effort to save money.
The damages will be paid by Corizon, but the settlement agreement also requires the state prison system to adopt a new policy to provide consultations with surgeons for inmates with hernia symptoms in all Florida facilities.
“Obviously, the inmates are there for a reason. We are not trying to make their time in detention a country club, but there is a responsibility to provide humane conditions for their incarceration and in this case we achieved a big step in making sure the medical treatment complies with the standard of care in the industry,” said Ken Hartman, one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs.
U.S. District Court Judge Robert Hinkle gave preliminary approval to the settlement at the March 29 hearing but because several of the affected inmates are residing in other states, the settlement requires that their state attorneys general be notified and given an opportunity to object to the agreement. Hinkle said he would enter a final an order in 100 days. Story here.
Photo credit:TRIPPLAAR KRISTOFFER/SIPA Sipa USA via AP