Lawsuit Settled Over Florida Inmate Health Care

September 23, 2016

The Florida Department of Corrections and former prison health-care provider Corizon have agreed to pay about $2.1 million to settle a class-action lawsuit alleging that the state agency and the company denied hernia operations to inmates to save money.

Under the settlement, Corizon agreed to pay $1.7 million to current and former inmates. The Department of Corrections agreed to pay $150,000 for legal fees and costs. Corizon would have to pay the rest of the legal fees and costs, which are capped at $385,000.

Florida Justice Institute Executive Director Randall Berg filed the lawsuit last year on behalf of about 2,000 inmates, months before Corizon walked away from a five-year, $1.2 billion contract with the state three years early.

According to a consent order given preliminary approval Thursday by U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle, the state and Corizon “continue to vigorously deny all allegations contained in the complaint,” but agreed to the settlement “to avoid costly and protracted litigation.”

The three inmates who filed the lawsuit — Tracy Copeland, Archie Green and Amado Parra — will each receive payments of $5,000, plus attorneys’ fees and costs. An estimated 311 current or former inmates who sought treatment for hernias at prisons where Corizon handled health care will receive $2,733.12, and another 1,637 will receive $519.24.

The lawsuit detailed numerous inmates’ years-long struggles to get hernia operations.

The lawsuit alleged that inmates were repeatedly denied consultations with surgeons or were not allowed to have surgery once doctors decided it was necessary.

The consent order approved by Hinkle also will require the corrections agency to change its health-care policy regarding hernias to ensure that prisoners are referred to surgeons for consultations and that the surgeons’ recommendations are carried out.

“This settlement is one step toward the overall improvement of medical care for all incarcerated people in Florida,” Berg said in a prepared statement.

by The News Service of Florida file photos.


15 Responses to “Lawsuit Settled Over Florida Inmate Health Care”

  1. James Rogers on October 5th, 2017 1:04 pm

    I am part of the class action suit I was wondering if it is final and when I could receive my check

  2. Kenneth Lopez on July 2nd, 2017 8:23 pm

    I was released from E.C.I department of Corrections this past May 14th 2017 with a hernia ten years old and DOC never fix it..
    The Florida Justice Institute use me for the class action to bring defendants Corizon but they didn’t pay me for damages

  3. Scott harvey on April 9th, 2017 4:49 pm

    Arrived with double hernia entered on records at In take recommend for surgery when arrive at unit never happened hernias on both sides and made to work outside and inside of the prison on April first 2015 I was in medical all day released then went into distress and declared medical emergency was told from Sargent on duty to get away from him he was eating rushed to lake city hospital for MRI and ultra-sound then on to Jacksonville for life saving surgery

  4. David Huie Green on September 26th, 2016 6:12 pm

    “Hernias can become life-threatening if they become strangulated or incarcerated.”

    Or they may not.
    Location, location, location.

    David for truth

  5. So True on September 24th, 2016 8:19 am

    I agree with all cause I have had hernia surgery for one that almost cost me my life. It was so bad that it twisted my intestines in a knot and had to remove a foot of the dead intestine.But then again I’m living with one hernia everyday cause it’s not to the point that it needs to be removed. So I agree it is about what is medically necessary. That’s my opinion. No body should be denied medical assistance. Except Death Row Inmates they should suffer everyday!!!

  6. Jcellops on September 23rd, 2016 8:26 pm

    Hernias can become life-threatening if they become strangulated or incarcerated.

  7. Mel on September 23rd, 2016 4:18 pm

    I also had inmates admit that they did a crime just because they needed Medical Care they couldn’t get on the streets. Like a major surgery or if they had HIV. Or even the family say Grandpa didn’t really touch that child, which was a family member. Grandpa just needed 24/7 Medical Care and we couldn’t afford it. I may not have believed one story like this, but in 3 years I heard to many to count. It makes you wonder.

  8. Mel on September 23rd, 2016 4:11 pm

    I worked in Corrections for 10 years and I Never thought for one minute that inmates didn’t get the BEST Medical Care available at that time. The new Private Prisons on the other hand are not really that good for any care. Private Prison is a law suit waiting to happen. I wonder where these inmates were housed. I worked over 3 years of my 10 years with the Department as Security in outside hospital. I wittiness nothing but the Best Medical Care for inmates in outside Hospital. The State of Florida doesn’t do surgery in prison hospital.

  9. Really on September 23rd, 2016 11:14 am

    Inmates go to medical they pay $5 glasses they pay $5 dental $5, if they need dentures all they pay is $5, and we pay thousands

  10. Puddin on September 23rd, 2016 10:39 am

    Since hernias are not normally life threatening, and can usually wait, I have a hard time accepting that such a large number of inmates were affected negatively by this. Perhaps medical treatment while in jail/prison should be held to “life saving” only. Since this money will come from (I assume) tax payers, wasteful spending on non-urgent cases seems wrong.

  11. MissB on September 23rd, 2016 9:36 am

    They get better healthcare than those of us that work. I know a few people who need hernia repairs but can not get them because they can not afford their co-pays. Inmates should have to work to pay for their insurance, instead of the money going into their accounts for them to buy cigarettes. Their time in prison/jail they should have to help pay for the cost of them being there. I am saying this as I have a relative who is in prison and has been for some years, he knows what he did and he is paying the price for the choices he made. There is no excuse for inmates to get better healthcare than us tax-payers.

  12. No Excuses on September 23rd, 2016 9:27 am

    As a free person, I think that I have excellent medical care in the Pensacola area. I work in corrections, and I can echo “They are God’s children” when I say that they DO NOT get the same or better health care as we do on the streets. It is common place for surgeries or other necessary procedures to be denied to save money, especially if they are getting close to release and can pay for it themselves. We are not talking about elective surgery here – we are talking about necessary surgery or treatment. You would not incarcerate an insulin dependent diabetic, then deny them insulin or other life saving medications would you? Of course not. If it can wait, then let it wait. If it can’t, then provide it to them. Where else are they going to go? They’re locked up!

  13. Karen on September 23rd, 2016 8:40 am

    Wow! It looks like the 1637 inmates who didn’t even seek treatment will be getting $519.24 JUST because they were incarcerated during this time period!! What a joke!

  14. They are God's children!! on September 23rd, 2016 8:23 am

    @ insane……No they do not have “rights” as you call them. It is called necessary medical care. If it was one of your loved ones in prison, regardless of the circumstances, you would want them to have the necessary medical care they needed. Before anyone judges an inmate you should sit back and think about what you would want for them if it was your son, brother, daughter, mother, father, sister, etc in prison. Who knows…..

  15. Insane! on September 23rd, 2016 6:18 am

    Wow! Just WOW! Inmates have more rights than we do on the outside! Go to jail, you get better health treatment than we do! What a waste

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