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Case Name Bennett v. Spectrum Healthcare PC-NJ-0015
Docket / Court 1:02-cv-04993-NLH-AMD ( D.N.J. )
State/Territory New Jersey
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
On October 16, 2002, in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, private counsel representing a group of New Jersey state prisoners filed a lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against contract medical care providers, their executives, and New Jersey corrections officials. In that ... read more >
On October 16, 2002, in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, private counsel representing a group of New Jersey state prisoners filed a lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against contract medical care providers, their executives, and New Jersey corrections officials. In that complaint and a later, amended version, the prisoners alleged that they and their class had been exposed in the state's prisons to the Hepatitis C virus (HCV), or had been admitted to the prisons but not treated for the virus, or had contracted the virus in the prisons. They attributed these conditions to the deliberate indifference of the defendants, which allegedly violated the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments' protections against cruel and unusual punishment. The plaintiffs also alleged that the defendants' conduct constituted negligence, medical malpractice, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligent infliction of emotional distress under state common law, and that the conduct also violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12131 et seq. The plaintiffs sought monetary and injunctive relief. The class plaintiffs sought to represent included all past or present New Jersey state prisoners from between January 1990, and the date of filing the amended complaint, whether or not they had contracted HCV.

By the time the court adjudicated the class action issue, in May 2008, the New Jersey Department of Corrections had adopted major changes in how people with HCV were treated. According to papers filed with the court, its new program lined up with the federal Bureau of Prisons approach. In particular, the court (Judge Noel Hillman) found:

a. The health care provider for the department, CMS, subcontracted with the Cooper Health System and its Infectious Disease Department to provide infectious disease consultations to inmates. Cooper Hospital is also in the process of reviewing every HCV inmate's medical care to assure compliance with the FBOP's HCV Guidelines.
b. All inmates who meet the treatment criteria in the FBOP's HCV Guidelines are offered HCV pharmacologic treatment which they can accept or reject.
Inmates who accept HCV medications are given a combination of pegylated
interferon in combination with ribavirin. This pharmacologic treatment
is FDA approved and recommended for use in the FBOP's HCV guidelines.
c. Inmates in New Jersey, including in excess of 7,000 admitted prior to February 1, 2003, have been given a Blood Borne Pathogen Risk Assessment. Inmates identified with a positive risk factor for HCV have been encouraged to consent to a HCV test.
d. Any inmate who requests an HCV test is given the test.
e. All inmates are given extensive counseling and education materials, a NJDOC video on HCV and direct communications with their healthcare providers.
f. The inmates' Electronic Medical Records have been updated with comprehensive HCV forms to assure more consistent and thorough HCV documentation.
g. The care and treatment of all HCV inmates is closely tracked.
h. CMS compiles and analyzes statistical data regarding New Jersey's HCV program to measure and analyze the effectiveness of the program. The data is shared with the NJDOC.
i. The NJDOC monitors the HCV care and treatment given to inmates and CMS is subject to contractual penalties if it does not comply with its contract.

Given that the injunctive relief requested by the plaintiffs was this same set of reforms, Judge Hillman denied the request for injunctive relief as moot. In addition, the court found that only prisoners who already had HCV were appropriate plaintiffs in the case--and that there was no evidence that this subset of the putative plaintiffs class was sufficiently numerous to justify class action status. It therefore denied class certification. As to two individual class members who had HCV, the court held there was sufficient evidence in the record to go to trial on their constitutional claims (though not on their Americans with Disabilities Act claims), and denied the state's motion for summary judgment.

In October 2009, the case settled for money damages. It seems from some papers filed by one of the plaintiffs that he may never actually have received his money, but when he sought the assistance of the court in enforcing the settlement against his lawyer, Judge Hillman ruled that the court lacked jurisdiction, and directed him to file a collection action in state court.

- 10/13/2012


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Defendant-type
Corrections
Jurisdiction-wide
General
Conditions of confinement
Medical/Mental Health
Hepatitis
Medical care, general
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Correctional Medical Services, Inc.
Spectrum Healthcare Services, Inc.
State of New Jersey, Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description Class action status denied: was sought for all individuals who are or were incarcerated in New Jersey State prisons from January 1990 to the present. Individual plaintiffs were New Jersey prisoners with Hepatitis C.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Mixed
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Damages
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2010
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Civil Rights Injunctions Over Time: A Case Study of Jail and Prison Court Orders
N.Y.U. Law Review
By: Margo Schlanger (Washington University)
Citation: 81 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 550 (2006)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

  Judicial Policy Making and the Modern State: How the Courts Reformed America's Prisons
By: Malcolm M. Feeley & Edward Rubin (UC Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law & Vanderbilt School of Law Faculty)
Citation: (1998)
[ Detail ]

Docket(s)
1:02-cv-04993-NLH-AMD (D.N.J.) 10/15/2010
PC-NJ-0015-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Amended Class Action Complaint 07/25/2003
PC-NJ-0015-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Protective Order 11/15/2005 (D.N.J.)
PC-NJ-0015-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [re: Partial Summary Judgment] 12/21/2005 (D.N.J.)
PC-NJ-0015-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [re: Motion to Compel] 02/09/2007 (D.N.J.)
PC-NJ-0015-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion 05/14/2008 (2008 WL 2064202) (D.N.J.)
PC-NJ-0015-0005.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 05/14/2008 (D.N.J.)
PC-NJ-0015-0006.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
[Requesting an Order] 05/20/2010
PC-NJ-0015-0007.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 10/15/2010 (D.N.J.)
PC-NJ-0015-0008.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Donio, Ann Marie (D.N.J.) [Magistrate]
PC-NJ-0015-0004
Hillman, Noel Lawrence (D.N.J.)
PC-NJ-0015-0005 | PC-NJ-0015-0006 | PC-NJ-0015-0008 | PC-NJ-0015-9000
Rosen, Joel B. (D.N.J.) [Magistrate]
PC-NJ-0015-0002 | PC-NJ-0015-0003
Williams, Karen M (D.N.J.) [Magistrate]
PC-NJ-0015-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Feldman, Laura (Pennsylvania)
PC-NJ-0015-0001 | PC-NJ-0015-0005 | PC-NJ-0015-0006 | PC-NJ-0015-9000
Marrone, Thomas More (Pennsylvania)
PC-NJ-0015-0001 | PC-NJ-0015-0005 | PC-NJ-0015-0006 | PC-NJ-0015-9000
McDermott, J. Bradley (Pennsylvania)
PC-NJ-0015-9000
Pinto, Rosemary (Pennsylvania)
PC-NJ-0015-0001 | PC-NJ-0015-0005 | PC-NJ-0015-0006 | PC-NJ-0015-9000
Weinstock, Daniel S. (New Jersey)
PC-NJ-0015-0001 | PC-NJ-0015-0002 | PC-NJ-0015-0003 | PC-NJ-0015-0005 | PC-NJ-0015-0006 | PC-NJ-0015-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Campbell, Sarah Brie (New Jersey)
PC-NJ-0015-0005 | PC-NJ-0015-0006 | PC-NJ-0015-9000
Chewning, Kerri E. (New Jersey)
PC-NJ-0015-0005 | PC-NJ-0015-0006 | PC-NJ-0015-9000
Kuhn, Victoria L. (New Jersey)
PC-NJ-0015-9000
Lesneski, Gary J. (New Jersey)
PC-NJ-0015-0005 | PC-NJ-0015-0006 | PC-NJ-0015-9000
Moratti, Dianne M. (New Jersey)
PC-NJ-0015-0002 | PC-NJ-0015-0003 | PC-NJ-0015-0005 | PC-NJ-0015-0006 | PC-NJ-0015-9000
Schneider, Joel (New Jersey)
PC-NJ-0015-0002 | PC-NJ-0015-0003 | PC-NJ-0015-9000
Scott, Jeffrey M. (Pennsylvania)
PC-NJ-0015-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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