Eighth Amendment Issues

PRESS RELEASE: Court rules Incarcerated Woman’s Lawsuit Challenging Deprivation of Pain Medication and Mobility Devices May Proceed.

Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project and Abolitionist Law Center

For Immediate Release

December 31, 2018

PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA. On Friday, The United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania rejected motions to dismiss a lawsuit alleging that the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) and medical staff violated the rights of an incarcerated woman who is disabled. The case is being litigated by the Abolitionist Law Center (ALC) and the Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project (PILP) on behalf of Ms. Tracey Nadirah Shaw, who is currently imprisoned at State Correctional Institution at Cambridge Springs (SCI Cambridge Springs). Ms. Shaw brought the lawsuit after the DOC and medical staff violated her rights under the Eighth Amendment and ignored protections guaranteed by the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act by denying her necessary pain medication and mobility accommodations, including a wheelchair, for over two years.

Ms. Shaw suffers from chronic medical conditions that cause intense neuropathic pain in her back and legs. For years, she was prescribed medication by DOC staff that stabilized her pain and allowed her to engage in daily tasks, including janitorial labor. In 2015, without the benefit of an examination or consultation, medical staff terminated Ms. Shaw’s effective pain management prescription, which resulted in debilitating pain and substantial reduction in her mobility. Ms. Shaw began to depend on additional assistive devices and accommodations to attempt to navigate life at SCI-Cambridge Springs. However, DOC staff took away her wheelchair, depriving her of the ability to travel the extended distances to educational classes, worship programs, and the dining hall. The DOC then used her worsening medical condition to temporarily remove her from her janitorial duties, resulting in a loss of essential income.

Ms. Shaw lost over twenty pounds because she was not able to physically walk to the cafeteria to get her meals and eventually, she suffered a broken leg requiring surgery and the insertion of six screws when she fell trying to walk with the absence of a wheelchair.

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5,000 inmates with Hepatitis C sued Pa. prisons. Now, they’re on their way to getting treatment

November 20, 2018 | Samantha Melamed | The Philadelphia Inquirer

In 2013, a cure for hepatitis C — a chronic viral infection that, if untreated, can lead to fatal liver disease — was brought to market. But who would get the $100,000 lifesaving treatment? That's been a subject of political and legal battles ever since.

In May 2017, the Wolf administration announced that Pennsylvania would expand Medicaid coverage of the treatment to anyone with hepatitis C, instead of treating only those with signs of liver damage.

Now, through a legal settlement filed for approval Monday in federal court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, approximately 5,000 incarcerated Pennsylvanians who have hepatitis C would also have access to direct-acting antiviral drugs, which are effective in about 95 percent of cases.

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PRESS RELEASE: Proposed Landmark Settlement Re: Treatment of Chronic Hepatitis C

November 19, 2018 | PA Institutional Law Project and David Rudovsky, Esq.

PRESS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PROPOSED LANDMARK SETTLEMENT ON ACCESS TO MEDICAL TREATMENT WOULD PROVIDE HIGHLY EFFECTIVE MEDICAL TREATMENT FOR PRISONERS WITH CHRONIC HEPATITIS C IN THE PENNSYLVANIA DOC

Contacts:
David Rudovsky, Esq.
: 215-925-4400, drudovsky@klrawphila.com
Su Ming Yeh, Esq. (PA Institutional Law Project): 215-925-2966, smyeh@pailp.org

Philadelphia, PA, November 19, 2018:

Plaintiffs’ counsel announced a proposed landmark settlement in a class action lawsuit against the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections that would provide much-needed medical treatment for thousands of prisoners with Chronic Hepatitis C.

“Chronic Hepatitis C is the most lethal of all viral illnesses in the United States. In its early stages, it can cause painful and debilitating conditions of fatigue; muscle, joint, and bone pain; and depression. Left untreated, the virus will eventually cause liver failure, high risks of liver cancer, and death. ‘The new DAA treatment is highly effective in curing the disease with a simple regimen of pills and without serious side effects,’ explained Su Ming Yeh, Deputy Director of the Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project. ‘The health of thousands of prisoners will be improved now that they will have access to this potentially life-saving medication.’”

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Chimenti Hepatitis C Class Action Settlement

November 19, 2018 | Settlement Agreement and General Release

Please click HERE to access the Class Action Settlement in Salvatore Chimenti, et al. v. Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, et.al., regarding access to highly effective medication for treatment of chronic Hepatitis C.

Prisoners With Hep C Get Cured In Some States But Not Others

October 13, 2016 | Anne Maria Barry-Jester | FiveThirtyEight

Salvatore Chimenti already had advanced liver damage from the hepatitis C virus when he filed a lawsuit against the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections in the summer of 2015. He wanted access to new and expensive drugs that cure the virus in 90 percent or more of people who take them. Because he is an inmate, when the DOC denied him the medication, the only way Chimenti could potentially get it was to sue. “When you’re in prison, you have no other option, this is your only medical provider. You cannot get a second opinion; you can’t pay for it yourself. You are completely under the control of the Department of Corrections and their medical provider,” said Su Ming Yeh, an attorney with the Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project who is representing Chimenti in a class-action lawsuit.

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High Cost of New Hepatitis C Drugs Strains Prison Budgets, Locks Many Out of Cure

September 12, 2016 | Peter Loftus and Gary Fields | The Wall Street Journal

GRATERFORD, Pa.—David Maldonado, an inmate at a Pennsylvania state prison, is one of thousands of convicted criminals with hepatitis C, an infectious disease that is one of the country’s biggest killers. Powerful new drugs on the market could help Mr. Maldonado and cut the chances of it spreading outside prison walls.

The medicines, however, are so expensive, and the problem so widespread, that to treat all sufferers would blow up most prison budgets. List prices for the newer drugs range from $54,000 to $94,000 a person for a typical 12-week course.

Pennsylvania’s corrections department has given the drugs to inmates at high risk of developing liver problems and with low blood-platelet levels. Mr. Maldonado isn’t among them, because his disease isn’t advanced enough to meet the department’s criteria, and he has sued seeking treatment.

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Mumia Abu Jamal Denied Critical Meds In Prison, Supporters Rally

September 9, 2016 | CBS Philly | Cherri Gregg

Members of MOVE rallied outside of the Philadelphia Department of Health to protest a recent federal court ruling denying critical Hepatitis C treatment for former death row inmate Mumia Abu Jamal. The ruling raises questions about inmate care.

“Nobody is immune to this kind of travesty of justice,” says Romona Africa, communications director for the MOVE Organization.

She joined concerned family and friends of Mumia Abu Jamal on Wednesday morning in a rally and press conference. The demonstration was made days after a federal district court judge denied Jamal access to critical treatment for his Hepatitis C.

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