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California: City Liable for $237,000 Hospital Bill for Prisoner’s Medical Care

On May 22, 2003, indigent prisoner Kenneth Lee Denham was arrested and detained by Oakland police officers at the city jail. He was later taken to the county jail, but the county refused to accept him because he was too sick. Oakland police then transported Denham to ValleyCare Medical Center in Pleasanton, where he received surgery and was hospitalized for more than a month at a cost of $237,167.88.

When ValleyCare demanded payment, both the city and county declined to cover Denham’s hospital bill. ValleyCare then sued the county and city in state court.
The Alameda County Superior Court ruled that the California Penal Code required reimbursement to ValleyCare. The county was dismissed from the suit as it did not have custody of Denham when he was taken to the hospital. The city was held liable and ordered to pay the cost of treatment, because Denham had been removed from the city jail to ValleyCare. See: Hospital Committee for the Livermore-Pleasanton Areas v. County of Alameda, Superior Court of Alameda County, Case No. VG04155957 (April 21, 2008).

Source: VerdictSearch California

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Related legal case

Hospital Committee for the Livermore-Pleasanton Areas v. County of Alameda