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Preliminary Injunction For Improved TB Testing in Pennsylvania Prisons

On September 29, 1992, a federal district court granted Pennsylvania state prisoners a preliminary injunction ordering the implementation of a new policy on the detection and treatment of tuberculosis (TB) cases in Pennsylvania state prisons.

This is a, class-action suit brought by prisoners at 13 of Pennsylvania’s state prisons in federal district court, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 29 U.S.C. § 701, alleging that the policies and practices for the detection and control of TB cases in Pennsylvania state prisons is inadequate because they do not provide for the annual testing of prisoners and staff for TB, they allow for the keeping of inadequate medical record, they allow important medical information to be omitted from some prisoners’ records, they allow follow up treatment for prisoners who test positive to be delayed and they employ inadequate tracking and monitoring procedures. During the pendency of the suit, the Department of Corrections (DOC) developed and began implementation of a new TB policy. The new TB policy addressed the plaintiffs’ concerns and was deemed an “excellent document” by the plaintiffs’ own expert witness.

The plaintiffs’ moved for a preliminary injunction ordering the implementation of the new TB policy. The court found that until the policy was implemented, plaintiffs were at risk of suffering an irreparable injury; a preliminary injunction would not harm the defendants; until the new policy is implemented, the plaintiffs were likely to succeed on the merits; and the public would not be harmed by a preliminary injunction. Therefore, the court granted the motion for a preliminary injunction and ordered the defendants, their employees, medical contractors, agents and all other persons acting in concert with them to implement the new TB policy at all 13 prisons covered by this suit and SCI-Muncy. This order included all state prison at the time except SCI-Pittsburg, which was the subject of a different pending lawsuit. See: Austin. v. Pennsylvania DOC, 1992 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14971, Civil Action No. 90-7497 (U.S.D.C.-E.D. PA 1992).

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Related legal case

Austin. v. Pennsylvania DOC