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Settlement avoids trial for prison medical case

Virginia officials apparently have settled a class action lawsuit challenging medical care for women inmates at a state prison in Fluvanna County.

Court records show that a ten-day trial beginning Dec. 1 was called off Nov. 25 based on notice that the case has “settled in principle.”

Terms are expected to include on-going monitoring of state prison medical procedures by a court-appointed observer, according to attorneys for the inmates.

There was no immediate comment from state attorneys in the case.

The settlement notice was filed the same day that U.S. District Judge Norman K. Moon denied the state’s summary judgment motion, refusing to dismiss the claims of inmates that their medical needs often were ignored.

“A reasonable finder of fact could conclude that the evidence establishes that the VDOC Defendants were directly notified of, and thus possessed subjective knowledge regarding, the serious medical needs of women prisoners at FCCW and their concerns that the sub-standard quality of medical care provided by VDOC’s contractors was insufficient to meet those needs and placed them at a substantial risk of serious harm. The VDOC’s failure to require or undertake corrective action and its ‘hands-off’ attitude towards its medical care contractors under these circumstances constitute ample grounds for a finding of deliberate indifference,” Moon wrote in his Nov. 25 opinion.

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