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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

8/4/2014 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Lawsuits drawn up against California officials

Hundreds of inmates have contracted Valley fever in recent years, in an epidemic that has plagued state run prisons in the Central Valley, contributing to more than 30 inmate deaths since 2005.

Hundreds of inmates in California's Central Valley have been infected by Valley fever, many have set lawsuits against the state.

Hundreds of inmates in California's Central Valley have been infected by Valley fever, many have set lawsuits against the state.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

8/4/2014 (2 years ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: US, California, Legal


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Jeremy Romo was one such inmate, after being sent to prison in 2012 for illegal possession of a firearm.

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When he was put in prison he was incredibly healthy, working as a construction worker and running three miles every weekday and five on the weekends. But when he was released in July, 2013, the 34-year-old had become a physical wreck, unable to run, suffering from joint pain and forced to pay for expensive medications to fight the disease he contracted while in prison.

"This has just ruined my whole life," Romo said. "This disease is incurable. You can never get rid of it."

Typically, symptoms of the disease include fatigue, fever, cough, night sweats, a shortness of breath and a rash on the upper body or legs.

California spends more than $23 million treating inmates sick with Valley fever each year; $9 million for hospital care, $2.4 million for antifungal care and $12 million guarding these patients.

The state may very well end up paying much more, as numerous lawsuits have been filed against the state.

The latest suit, was filed in July in federal court in Sacramento on behalf of 58 current and former inmates and states that California has known for years that prisons in the Central Valley are breading grounds for this incurable illness, and have done nothing to deal with the problem.

The suit claims that California has imposed on inmates "a lifelong, crippling, and sometimes fatal disease in addition to their lawfully determined sentences."

This lawsuit seeks to offset the medical costs that inmates will have to face for the rest of their lives; $5,000 a year for antifungal medication to keep the disease under control, $1,000 annually for testing, and $25,000 for those with the worst infections for hospitalization.

The suit also seeks punitive damages and claims that state officials were negligent and reckless when they decided to house at-risk inmates in prisons where the disease's airborne spores or present.

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