On November 18, 2002, HIV positive inmates at the Limestone Correctional Facility in Capshaw, Alabama filed a class action lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court Northern District of Alabama to challenge their treatment and conditions of confinement. Plaintiffs, ...
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On November 18, 2002, HIV positive inmates at the Limestone Correctional Facility in Capshaw, Alabama filed a class action lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court Northern District of Alabama to challenge their treatment and conditions of confinement. Plaintiffs, represented by the Southern Center for Human Rights and private civil right attorneys, alleged that they were denied adequate medical treatment and were subjected to deplorable living conditions. Defendants included officials of the Alabama Department of Corrections [DOC] and NaphCare, Inc., a private health care company that contracted with the DOC to provide healthcare services at Limestone. Plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as class certification.
Following plaintiffs' lawsuit, an audit report addressing the medical treatment provided to HIV positive inmates confined at Limestone was prepared by Moore and Associates, an independent entity that was hired to assess the performance of NaphCare under its contract with the DOC. The audit report noted may deficiencies in the care provided and found that the number of AIDS related deaths at Limestone (reportedly 36 deaths from 1992 to 2002)was remarkably high compared to averages reported by other correctional institutions. Plaintiffs filed a second amended complaint on April 2, 2003, which cited various findings and conclusion reported by Moore and Associates in its audit report. NaphCare moved to dismiss.
The District Court Judge Karon O. Bowdre certified the case as a class action on January 27, 2004. NaphCare was dismissed from the case without prejudice, with the dismissal contingent on NaphCare complying with all standing discovery orders. The case was then referred to mediation. The parties eventually arrived at a settlement.
On May 6, 2004, the parties filed a joint motion to approve the Settlement Agreement. A fairness hearing was held on May 26, 2004 before Magistrate Judge John E. Ott. Judge Ott issued a report and recommendation that the Court adopt the Settlement Agreement. The District Court issued a memorandum opinion and order approving the Settlement Agreement on June 24, 2004.
The Settlement Agreement specified numerous changes to be made by the DOC relative to the delivery of health care at Limestone, including the hiring of an HIV Specialist to provide treatment to HIV infected prisoners and a full time registered nurse to serve as the "HIV Coordinator" in charge of infection control. An additional medical doctor was to be hired to treat non-HIV positive inmates. The Agreement was set to terminate two years after its final approval. The District Court retained jurisdiction over the case to enforce the agreement and appointed Magistrate Judge Ott as Special Master to oversee the remedial phase. Dr. Joseph Bick was appointed as the independent medical consultant. By separate agreement of the parties, attorneys' fees and costs in the amount of $410,000.00 were awarded to class counsel.
During the remediation phase, plaintiffs moved for an order of contempt for the DOC's alleged non-compliance with the Settlement Agreement. In January 2006, The District Court (Judge Bowdre) denied the motion as moot and ordered Dr. Bick to conduct an audit at Limestone in November 2006 and to issue a written report on his findings. The parties were advised to file any motions to terminate or extend the Settlement Agreement within 30 days of its June 26, 2006 termination date. As of the date of this summary, the PACER docket did not reflect that any such motions had been filed and the case remained active.
Additional case information can be accessed at the website of the Southern Center for Human Rights (http://www.schr.org/).Dan Dalton - 05/12/2007