On July 24, 2012, prisoners detained at the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women ("FCCW") filed this class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 28 U.S.C. § 2201, against the Virginia Department of Corrections ("DOC") and Armor Correctional Health Services, Inc. ("Armor"). The plaintiffs, represented by Legal Aid Justice Center, Washington Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, and private counsel, asked the Court for declaratory and injunctive relief. Specifically, the plaintiffs claimed that they were provided insufficient medical care, in violation of the Eighth Amendment.
Armor, a for-profit corporation, provided health care at FCCW. The DOC contracted with Armor to provide this service, but the DOC remained responsible for administration and oversight of the contract. The plaintiffs claimed that the DOC and Armor were deliberately indifferent to prisoners' medical needs. The plaintiffs alleged that deviations from the accepted and appropriate standard of care were attributable to Armor's desire to maximize corporate profits. Specifically, plaintiffs claimed that, in order to minimize costs, Armor employed licensed practical nurses rather than physicians or registered nurses; failed to devote time and attention to examine and diagnose potentially serious medical problems; refused to refer prisoners for needed specialized care; failed to carry out specialists' prescribed courses of treatment; and refused to provide prisoners with medication for severe, chronic pain. Plaintiffs also claimed that FCCW deviated from the accepted and appropriate standard of care on the basis of purported security concerns devoid of any legitimate penological justification. As a result, plaintiffs asserted that they, and others similarly situated, experienced physical pain, mental anguish, and the possibility of premature death.
On December 11, 2012, Judge Norman Moon denied the DOC defendants' motion to dismiss, which asserted that they were not personally involved in denying adequate medical care and could not be held liable on a respondeat superior theory. 2012 WL 6151967. On October 4, 2013, Judge Moon granted Armor's motion to dismiss noting that, because Armor's contract with the DOC had expired, and because Corizon Health, Inc. ("Corizon") (which had formerly been the contractual provider of medical services at FCCW) had assumed the contract to provide medical services at FCCW, plaintiffs' claims against Armor should be denied as moot.
From 2013 to 2015, the parties engaged in extensive and contentious discovery in preparation for trial scheduled in December 2015. The court issued multiple opinions regarding discovery issues during this period. Those opinions are posted in the document section of this case.
On November 20, 2014, Judge Moon granted the plaintiffs' motion and certified a class of all women who currently reside or will in the future reside at FCCW and who have sought, are currently seeking, or will seek medical care for serious medical need. 2014 WL 6609087. On November 25, 2014, Judge Moon granted plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment, stating that defendants possess a non-delegable constitutional duty to provide adequate medical treatment, and that plaintiffs' specific health problems and conditions constitute serious medical needs; deliberate indifference to them is therefore proscribed by the Eighth Amendment. 2014 WL 6680691.
That same day, the parties informed the Court that they had reached a settlement in principle. On April 21, 2015, upon a request by the Court for a status update, the parties informed the Court that a formal written settlement was still in progress but the parties had agreed that constitutionally appropriate care was required and progress toward that goal was underway under the supervision of a mutually agreed upon monitor who will make periodic evaluations of the standard of care of Defendant.
The settlement began as a Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) regarding the substance and content of the Settlement, which also set out a process for reaching a final agreement. A final, fully-executed Settlement Agreement, with Appendices and Exhibits, were submitted to the Court on September 15, 2015. This the Court preliminarily approved on September 16, 2015. Notice of the proposed settlement and class members’ right to object was distributed to each prisoner housed at FCCW. The Court then conducted a Fairness Hearing on November 9, 2015, receiving evidence and testimony to evaluate whether the settlement was fair, reasonable, and adequate, as required by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23. In an opinion dated February 5, 2016, Judge Moon approved the settlement, finding both that it satisfied Rule 23 and also the limitations on prospective relief in the Prison Litigation Reform Act, 18 U.S.C. 3626(a). 2016 WL 452164.
The settlement provided for comprehensive changes to the medical care system at the prison, and a monitor to oversee implementation. The court retained jurisdiction to enforce the terms of the agreement. The agreement would last at least three years. After that, it would end when the Compliance Monitor found that DOC had provided medical care that was constitutionally adequate on a consistent basis for at least one year. In addition, the state paid $1.5 million in fees to the plaintiffs' attorneys. Nate West - 12/01/2014
Sarah Prout - 09/17/2015
Jessica Kincaid - 04/09/2016