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Case Name Barfield v. Cook PC-CT-0024
Docket / Court 3:18-cv-01198 ( D. Conn. )
State/Territory Connecticut
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Prison Conditions
Case Summary
Plaintiffs, persons in the custody of the Connecticut Department of Correction suffering from the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV), filed this putative class action lawsuit against the Department on July 19, 2018 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut. U.S. District Judge Michael P ... read more >
Plaintiffs, persons in the custody of the Connecticut Department of Correction suffering from the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV), filed this putative class action lawsuit against the Department on July 19, 2018 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut. U.S. District Judge Michael P. Shea was assigned. Plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, sought to represent a class of all people who are or will be prisoners in the custody of the Connecticut Department of Corrections, and who have or will have Hepatitis C while in custody and have not yet been cured. They alleged deliberate indifference to serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment, as well as violations of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, citing the Department’s prioritization of direct-acting antiviral treatment for those with the most advanced HCV only, which, they argued, resulted in delayed, less effective treatment and failed to comply with accepted standards of care. They further noted that the policy failed to address liver transplantation, the only cure for people with decompensated cirrhosis, or to include liver cancer screening. They requested declaratory and injunctive relief, compensatory and punitive damages, and attorneys’ fees and costs.

The district court granted the motion for class certification on August 6, 2019, certifying a class defined as: “All sentenced persons (1) who have been or will be diagnosed with chronic Hepatitis C; (2) who are or will be in the custody of the Connecticut Department of Corrections; and (3) who have at least sixteen weeks remaining to serve on their sentences.” It explained that it had limited the class definition in this way because “plaintiffs expressly disclaim any intent to bring a deliberate indifference claim under the Fourteenth Amendment on behalf of pretrial detainees” and because screening, evaluation, and a course of DAA treatment would require approximately sixteen weeks to complete. 2019 WL 3562021. Ultimately, during the course of settlement negotiations, the class was redefined—by order granting the parties’ joint motion to amend on June 2, 2020—to include: “All inmates, both sentenced and unsentenced, who were, are, or will be confined in a Connecticut Department of Correction facility, since the filing of this complaint until March 1, 2022."

Also on August 6, 2019, the court granted in part and denied in part the Department’s motion to dismiss. First, the court held that although at least some of the named plaintiffs had standing to seek an injunction requiring provision of direct-acting antiviral treatment and/or liver transplants when needed, none had adequately alleged a likelihood of future injury stemming from failure to test them for HCV because all five named plaintiffs had already been tested and diagnosed. The court dismissed this request for relief without prejudice, however, to revisit at a later stage should plaintiffs ultimately prevail on the merits. Second, as to the plaintiffs’ claim of deliberate indifference to serious medical needs, the court held that the plaintiffs had plausibly alleged delayed treatment or failure to treat despite knowledge of the standard of care requiring immediate treatment with direct-acting antivirals. Thus, the motion to dismiss that claim was denied. The court concluded, however, that the allegations were insufficient to show personal involvement by the Commissioner of the Department of Corrections in this alleged Eighth Amendment violation and thus granted the motion to dismiss as to the Eighth Amendment claim brought against him in his individual capacity. Finally, the court granted the motion to dismiss as to the Americans with Disabilities Act and Rehabilitation Act Claims, holding that plaintiffs failed to make non-conclusory allegations that supported an inference of discrimination or denial of care based on HCV status. 2019 WL 3680331.

The parties began settlement negotiations and, on November 6, 2020, filed a proposed amended settlement agreement and release that set out the terms of the parties’ agreement, followed, on May 3, 2021, by a joint motion to approve the settlement agreement. The agreement would have required the department to comply with clinical guidelines, offer universal screening for HCV to all inmates, rely on infectious disease experts to make treatment recommendations or provide treatment directly, offer treatment despite risk behavior, and use directly observed therapy to monitor compliance. It would additionally have permitted class members to, at any time, request direct-acting antiviral treatment, which would trigger evaluation for the treatment. After a fairness hearing, on May 17, 2021, however, the court denied the motion to approve the settlement agreement without prejudice, citing a release of related claims accrued “from the beginning of the world to April 1, 2020” as too broad to be fair, adequate, or reasonable.

On August 3, 2021, the court administratively closed the case, inviting the parties to reopen the case upon a showing that (a) a final settlement had been reached and needed approval; (b) the parties wished to proceed with litigating the case; or (3) other good reason existed to reopen the case. Settlement negotiations appear to be ongoing.

Tessa Bialek - 09/24/2021


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Defendant-type
Corrections
Jurisdiction-wide
Disability
disability, unspecified
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Conditions of confinement
Medical/Mental Health
Hepatitis
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
Ex parte Young (federal or state officials)
Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701
Defendant(s) Connecticut Department of Correction
Plaintiff Description The plaintiff class ultimately comprised: “All inmates, both sentenced and unsentenced, who were, are, or will be confined in a Connecticut Department of Correction facility, since the filing of this complaint until March 1, 2022."
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status outcome Granted
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filed 07/19/2018
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
Court Docket(s)
D. Conn.
09/20/2021
3:18-cv-01198-MPS
PC-CT-0024-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
D. Conn.
07/19/2018
Verified Class Action Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 1]
PC-CT-0024-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Conn.
12/21/2018
Corrected First Amended Complaint [ECF# 35]
PC-CT-0024-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Conn.
08/06/2019
Ruling on Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 60] (2019 WL 3680331)
PC-CT-0024-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Conn.
08/06/2019
Ruling on Class Certification [ECF# 61] (2019 WL 3562021)
PC-CT-0024-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Conn.
11/06/2020
Joint Notice of Proposed Amended Settlement Agreement [ECF# 133]
PC-CT-0024-0005.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Conn.
11/06/2020
Joint Motion to Amend Class Definition [ECF# 134]
PC-CT-0024-0006.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Merriam, Sarah A.L. Court not on record show/hide docs
PC-CT-0024-9000
Shea, Michael Peter (D. Conn.) show/hide docs
PC-CT-0024-0003 | PC-CT-0024-0004 | PC-CT-0024-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Krayeske, Kenneth James (Connecticut) show/hide docs
PC-CT-0024-0001 | PC-CT-0024-0002 | PC-CT-0024-0005 | PC-CT-0024-0006 | PC-CT-0024-9000
Ward, DeVaughn (Connecticut) show/hide docs
PC-CT-0024-0002 | PC-CT-0024-0005 | PC-CT-0024-0006 | PC-CT-0024-9000
Defendant's Lawyers O'Neill, Terrance M. (Connecticut) show/hide docs
PC-CT-0024-0005 | PC-CT-0024-0006 | PC-CT-0024-9000
Strom, Steven R. (Connecticut) show/hide docs
PC-CT-0024-0005 | PC-CT-0024-0006 | PC-CT-0024-9000
Tong, William (Connecticut) show/hide docs
PC-CT-0024-0005 | PC-CT-0024-0006

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