SOURCE: Khorrami, Pollard & Abir, LLP
July 08, 2008 11:41 ET
Khorrami, Pollard & Abir Files Class Action Civil Rights Lawsuit in Federal Court Against California Prisons for Failure to Properly Treat Inmates With Hepatitis C
LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwire - July 8, 2008) - With Hepatitis C now an epidemic in
California prisons, a class action lawsuit was filed today in Federal Court
which would require the California Department of Corrections and
Rehabilitation to provide thousands of inmates suffering from Hepatitis C
with the proper diagnostic testing and treatment that they are currently
Filed by the downtown Los Angeles firm of Khorrami, Pollard & Abir, the
suit contends that the CDCR is wrongly excluding thousands of inmates from
liver biopsies and anti-viral treatment and allowing their disease to
progress to more advanced stages of liver damage. The lack of proper
diagnostic testing and treatment further spreads the disease among the
Hepatitis C currently infects about 40% of the approximately 190,000
inmates in California prisons. The standard of care as set by the Center
for Disease Control, the National Institute of Health and most medical
practitioners requires that patients with Stage II Hepatitis be offered
treatment. However, the CDCR requires inmates to develop a more advanced
stage of Hepatitis C (compared to the general civilian population) before
offering them antiviral treatment. At these more advanced stages, treatment
is less likely to succeed. Moreover, many California inmates do not
receive even the liver biopsies necessary to determine the stage of their
Without treatment, a significant percentage of Hepatitis C patients will
develop cirrhosis, liver failure, and cancer of the liver. Hepatitis C is
the principal cause of liver failure and the main reason for liver
transplantation in the United States.
"A court already decided the appropriate punishment for these people. The
Department of Corrections is playing judge, jury, and executioner and
doling out a punishment that no court would allow. This is unacceptable,
inhumane and constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, which is prohibited
by the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution," says Khorrami.
The case has been filed on behalf of lead plaintiff, Kevin Jackson,
currently an inmate at the California State Prison at Solano and names as a
defendant Robin Dezember, the Director of the Division of Correctional
Health Care Services who is responsible for establishing health care
policies for the prison system in California.
Jackson was diagnosed with Stage II Hepatitis on August 27, 2007, and
although he has repeatedly requested treatment, the CDCR has refused.
Hepatitis C is a serious viral infection of the liver, spread by
contamination with blood from infected persons such as occurs through
illicit intravenous drug use, tattoos, or contaminated therapeutic blood
products. There are about six genetic strains of Hepatitis C.
Fortunately, good and effective treatment is available with a combination
of two drugs, ribavirin and interferon.
"Despite an established standard of care, the California Department of
Corrections and Rehabilitation has adopted protocols designed to exclude
patients from diagnostic biopsies and treatment. This is in contrast to
the care and treatment provided to the general population," says Khorrami.
"This practice not only denies inmates proper care and allows their health
to deteriorate, but also presents a health danger of further spreading the
disease not only within the prison population but also in the general
population once the infected inmates are released from prison."