Settlement Reached in Fluvanna Correctional Inmate Medical Care Lawsuit

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA (NEWSPLEX) -- Inmates at the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women and the Virginia Department of Corrections have reached a settlement on a class action lawsuit concerning medical care provided at the prison.

The settlement was submitted Tuesday and it must be approved by Federal District Judge Norman Moon before it becomes final.

The lawsuit was filed in 2012 on behalf of five women incarcerated in the prison.

The plaintiffs stated that inadequate medical care at FCCW violated the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment.

The lawsuit asked the U.S. District Court in Charlottesville to order VDOC to provide adequate care.

It asked for the court to enter specific requirements to ensure that proper care was consistently provided to all of the female prisoners, and it did not ask for monetary damages.

The Legal Aid Justice Center, Wiley Rein LLP of Washington, D.C., and the Washington Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs represented the inmates.

"The plaintiffs and attorneys in this case have spent years working to improve conditions for all women incarcerated at FCCW," said Ted Howard, pro bono counsel from Wiley Rein. "The terms of this agreement should finally formalize the adequate care and treatment these women should have been receiving all along."

In November 2014, Moon granted a motion for the prisoners that said the women at the facility suffer from or may in the future suffer from "serious medical need."

He also ruled VDOC cannot delegate its duty to provide constitutional medical care to a private contractor, which means VDOC is ultimately responsible for the well-being of the prisoners.

In the settlement, VDOC will be required to overhaul its medical care at FCCW, including changing operating procedures to better accommodate women with disabilities, timely access to medications and medical supplies, and follow-up treatment in accordance with medical specialist recommendations.

The new standards will be monitored by Nicholas Scharff, M.D., M.P.H., the former Chief Medical Officer for the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.

He will be visiting FCCW to make sure care is adequate and meets agreed upon standards.

Scharff will also be writing reports on his visits rating the medical care, and those will be public information.

If he finds that any part of the care is constitutionally inadequate, Scharff will give VDOC 30 days to fix the problem.

If the problem is not fixed within 30 days, VDOC may be held in contempt of court by a judge.

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