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Case Name Ligons v. Minnesota Department of Corrections PC-MN-0003
Docket / Court 0:15-cv-2210 ( D. Minn. )
State/Territory Minnesota
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Prison Conditions
Case Summary
On May 1, 2015, inmates of the Minnesota Department of Corrections (MDOC) suffering from hepatitis-C filed this lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota. The plaintiffs sued the Minnesota Department of Corrections and Centene Corporation, a provider of healthcare ... read more >
On May 1, 2015, inmates of the Minnesota Department of Corrections (MDOC) suffering from hepatitis-C filed this lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota. The plaintiffs sued the Minnesota Department of Corrections and Centene Corporation, a provider of healthcare for inmates, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Article I § 8 of the Minnesota Constitution, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, sought declaratory judgment, injunctive and equitable relief, and compensatory and punitive damages. The plaintiffs claimed that defendants violated the 5th, 8th and 14th Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, Article I §§ 2, 5, and 7 of the Minnesota Constitution, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Specifically, they claimed that defendants refused to provide them with hepatitis-C drugs that met accepted medical standards. They claimed that defendants subjected them to less effective and more dangerous 48-week Interferon treatments for non-medical reasons that constituted “deliberate interference” to their serious medical needs.

Prior to late 2013, hepatitis-C treatment consisted of 48-week Interferon injections. Interferon was not highly effective and caused serious side effects. In January, 2014, the American Association for the Study of Liver Disease and Association for the Study of Infectious Disease recognized the potential of a new 12-week treatment regimen consisting of a daily pill with a 95% cure rate. The Federal Bureau of Prisons and other federal agencies recognized the new drug as the standard of care by June 2014, and the FDA approved sales under multiple labels by the end of 2014.

On June 3rd, 2015, plaintiffs filed their first amended complaint, adjusting the language of some of their claims and correcting the name of Centene Corporation to Centurion of Minnesota, LLC. Plaintiffs filed a second amended complaint on October 29, 2015, which removed plaintiffs’ claims based on the Fifth Amendment and the Minnesota Constitution. The second amended complaint also included voluminous medical reports on hepatitis-C.

On February 23, 2016, Judge Patrick J. Schiltz dismissed all claims against one of plaintiffs’ treating physicians based on a joint stipulation by the parties. In addition, the plaintiffs reached a confidential settlement with Centurion and another of plaintiffs’ physicians, the existence of which was entered in the record on October 5, 2016.

Litigation involving the remaining defendants dragged on for the next year; defendants moved for summary judgment, and plaintiffs moved for class certification, a preliminary injunction, and partial summary judgment. On October 4, 2017, Judge Schiltz rejected these and other pending motions. Judge Schiltz did, however, grant plaintiff’s motion to file a third amended complaint and “encourage[d]” plaintiffs to drop all claims except for those under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments.

Plaintiffs responded on December 1, 2017, with a drastic revision of their complaint. The third amended complaint added new named plaintiffs, removed unknown agents of the Minnesota Department of Corrections as defendants, and alleged violations of only the Eighth Amendment and the ADA. After unfruitful court-initiated settlement negotiations, plaintiffs moved to certify a class, and defendants moved for summary judgment. These motions were taken under advisement, and a trial was scheduled for February 2019.

The court granted in part and denied in part the defendants' motion for summary judgment and granted the plaintiffs' motion to certify class on January 3, 2019. Of the plaintiffs' claims that were dismissed, all but one were dismissed without prejudice. On March 3, the plaintiff filed an unopposed motion to approve a class action settlement of the remaining claims. Judge Schiltz approved this settlement on June 24, 2019.

The settlement had two main requirements: 1) the defendant must amend their 2018 Guidelines on the testing and treatment of HCV to comply with factors outlined in the settlement and; 2) the defendant must update policy to include education of prisoners with HCV who are released from MDOC facilities. The settlement was set to last for 24 months and required the MDOC to submit quarterly reports on their compliance. The defendants agreed to pay $325,000 in attorneys’ fees and $41,144 in costs.

Because the court retained jurisdiction over the settlement, this case is ongoing for monitoring purposes.

Maria Ricaurte - 10/04/2015
Mary Kate Sickel - 03/26/2018
Timothy Leake - 10/31/2018
Alex Moody - 04/10/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process
Content of Injunction
Goals (e.g., for hiring, admissions)
Monitoring
Reporting
Defendant-type
Corrections
Disability
disability, unspecified
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Conditions of confinement
Medical/Mental Health
Hepatitis
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701
Defendant(s) Centurion of Minnesota, LLC
Minnesota Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description Inmates of Minnesota Department of Corrections suffering from hepatitis-C.
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Pending
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Mixed
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
None yet
Order Duration 2020 - 2022
Filed 05/01/2015
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
Court Docket(s)
D. Minn. 0:15−cv−02210−PJS−BRT
PC-MN-0003-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/05/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
D. Minn.
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PC-MN-0003-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/01/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Minn.
Amended Complaint [ECF# 11]
PC-MN-0003-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/03/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Minn.
Third Amended Complaint [ECF# 205]
PC-MN-0003-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/01/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Minn.
Order [ECF# 317]
PC-MN-0003-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/03/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Minn.
Exhibit 1: Settlement Agreement and Release [ECF# 327-1]
PC-MN-0003-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/15/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Schiltz, Patrick Joseph (D. Minn.) show/hide docs
PC-MN-0003-0004 | PC-MN-0003-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Agbaje, Esther (Minnesota) show/hide docs
PC-MN-0003-0005 | PC-MN-0003-9000
Ciresi, Michael V. (Minnesota) show/hide docs
PC-MN-0003-0003 | PC-MN-0003-0005 | PC-MN-0003-9000
Erlinder, Carl Peter (Minnesota) show/hide docs
PC-MN-0003-0003 | PC-MN-0003-0005 | PC-MN-0003-9000
Lehmann, Katie Crosby (Minnesota) show/hide docs
PC-MN-0003-0003 | PC-MN-0003-0005 | PC-MN-0003-9000
Mohring, Andrew H (Minnesota) show/hide docs
PC-MN-0003-0003 | PC-MN-0003-0005 | PC-MN-0003-9000
Nickitas, Peter J. (Minnesota) show/hide docs
PC-MN-0003-0001 | PC-MN-0003-0002 | PC-MN-0003-0003 | PC-MN-0003-0005 | PC-MN-0003-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Davis, Andrew W. (Minnesota) show/hide docs
PC-MN-0003-9000
Ellison, Keith P. (Texas) show/hide docs
PC-MN-0003-0005
Fodness, Kathryn (Minnesota) show/hide docs
PC-MN-0003-0005 | PC-MN-0003-9000
Jonassen, Kevin (Minnesota) show/hide docs
PC-MN-0003-9000
Kemp, Kelly S (Minnesota) show/hide docs
PC-MN-0003-0005 | PC-MN-0003-9000
Novak, Anthony James (Minnesota) show/hide docs
PC-MN-0003-9000
Solheim, Mark A (Minnesota) show/hide docs
PC-MN-0003-9000
Strauss, Lindsay (Minnesota) show/hide docs
PC-MN-0003-9000
Tweeten, Andrew Henry (Minnesota) show/hide docs
PC-MN-0003-9000
Welsh, Ian M. (Minnesota) show/hide docs
PC-MN-0003-9000

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