A recent federal court order in Florida may foreshadow a local judicial decision on whether thousands of Tennessee inmates affected by the state’s hepatitis C epidemic will receive medication that could save their lives.
U.S. District Judge Mark Walker ruled Nov. 17 that the Florida Department of Corrections failed to meet constitutional requirements of treating inmates suffering from hepatitis C, as reported in the Tampa Bay Times.
Hepatitis C is a chronic liver disease also referred to as HCV which can damage the body for decades before possibly causing death.
“Here, FDC’s history of past misconduct leads this court to believe that future injury is imminent. Specifically, this court finds that FDC will not treat HCV-infected inmates in an appropriate and timely manner.” Walker wrote.
“If these inmates are not treated, they will undoubtedly suffer irreparable injury.”
Inmates and lawyers in Tennessee allege similar longstanding negligence by local prison officials.
Two inmates filed a lawsuit in summer 2016 after a USA TODAY NETWORK-Tennessee investigation revealed only eight of 3,487 inmates known to be infected with hepatitis C received life-saving treatment.