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Texas Prisoner’s Hepatitis C Claim Not Frivolous, Fifth Circuit Holds

A Texas prisoner’s claim alleging that his civil rights were violated by the denial of hepatitis c treatment based on policy decisions rather than on medical factors was not frivolous, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held, in an unpublished decision.

Edward Trigo, a Texas state prisoner, sued the Texas Department of Criminal Justice after he was twice denied treatment for hepatitis C. Trigo was first denied treatment in August 2003 based on a policy that required him to be imprisoned for at least 12 months before being eligible for treatment. He was again denied treatment in May 2004. This time the decision was based on a policy that denies treatment to prisoners who are due to be released within 12 months.

In his 42 U.S.C. § 1983 lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Trigo contended that he was denied treatment based on policy decisions even though his liver enzymes were severely elevated. He further alleged that he developed cirrhosis because he was not treated and that officials should have known denying or delaying treatment would result in serious harm to his liver. Trigo asserted that the denial constituted deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs and therefore violated his right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment.

The district court dismissed Trigo’s claim as frivolous pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. The Fifth Circuit reversed and remanded holding that, based Trigo’s allegations, the district court erred in dismissing his complaint as frivolous. See: Trigo v. Texas Department of Criminal Justice – Institutional Division, 225 Fed. Appx. 211 (5th Cir. 2007).

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Related legal case

Trigo v. Texas Department of Criminal Justice – Institutional Division