Class Action Settlement Calls for Testing of Almost 20,000 South Carolina Prison Inmates for Hepatitis C

Photo by Robert Hickerson

A proposed partial settlement of a civil rights class action lawsuit has received preliminary approval from a Federal Court here in South Carolina; it will provide Hepatitis C testing to all current and future inmates incarcerated in the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC).

According to the terms of a proposed agreement in Russell Geissler et al. v. Bryan P. Stirling et al., almost 20,000 current inmates will be tested along with future inmates of the SCDC.

The United States District Court for the District of South Carolina has set a fairness hearing on the settlement for February 12, 2019 at 11:00 AM in the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina in Columbia. That hearing has been scheduled by United States Senior District Court Judge, Margaret Seymour.

The settlement does not waive personal injury claims and the litigation will go forward with regard to claims for the treatment of Hepatitis C. The partial settlement was the result of significant fact discovery including document production and depositions.

The class is represented by Christopher Bryant of Yarborough Applegate LLC located in Charleston, SC and Reuben Guttman of Guttman, Buschner & Brooks PLLC in Washington, D.C. Justin Brooks, Traci Buschner, Caroline Poplin MD/JD, and Paul Zwier of Guttman, Buschner & Brooks PLLC also worked on the litigation.

Counsel representing the class praised opposing counsel for working toward this partial resolution marking an inroad toward addressing a public health crisis.

National statistics show that nearly 17 percent of nation’s inmate population has Hepatitis C, a bloodborne pathogen which can lead to death. Prior to the litigation, the SCDC had failed to test inmates for the disease, leaving them without the full awareness necessary to prevent its transmission.

The litigation will continue as plaintiffs press for the treatment of those who already have the disease. Today, several medications exist to treat and cure the condition.

“This is a terrific result, but we still have our work cut out for us to complete the litigation. This is not just a prison health issue; it’s a public health issue,” said Christopher Bryant, counsel for the class.

“This is a win for all citizens of the State of South Carolina and elsewhere. Treating inmates in prisons before they re-enter society is the type of prevention that will save lives and and save precious healthcare dollars,” said class counsel, Reuben Guttman.

Source via PR Newswire

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