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Colorado Appellate Court Condones Forcing Indigent Prisoners' Exposure to West Nile Virus

Colorado state prisoners Stephen Glover, Alan Smith and Michael Freeman (plaintiffs) appealed the dismissal of their pro se complaint against the State, the Department of Corrections (DOC) and former DOC director Joseph Ortiz (defendants). The complaint alleged racketeering violations pursuant to the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act (COCCA), for failure to provide them with mosquito repellant containing DEET without prior payment, thus subjecting them to exposure to West Nile Virus. The dismissal of their suit was affirmed.

The plaintiffs alleged willful and wanton exposure by the DOC to West Nile Virus, causing mental distress for fear of susceptibility to the virus; they further claimed the defendants had engaged in "racketeering activities" under the COCCA – including attempted reckless manslaughter, menacing and third degree assault.

The defendants moved for dismissal under the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act (GIA) for claims outside waived immunity parameters, and for failure to timely file a requisite notice of intent to sue. The defendants further requested dismissal due to the plaintiffs' failure to exhaust individual remedies, statute of limitations preclusion, and failure to state a claim for relief under C.R.C.P. 12(b)(5). The motion to dismiss was granted and the plaintiffs appealed.

The Colorado Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal, holding the complaint had failed to allege § 18 17 104(3) violations because "the enterprise and the person may not be the same entity for purposes of a COCCA violation." The appellate court further found that the defendants' alleged conduct was negligent at best and not criminal. See: Glover v. State of Colorado, Case No. 06CA0892 (Colo.App., 2007); 2007 WL 1086681.

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Related legal case

Glover v. State of Colorado