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$149,500 Settlement for Hawaiian Prisoner Denied Medical Care After Transport Accident

A $149,500 settlement has been reached in a lawsuit brought by a Hawaiian prisoner who was denied medical care for injuries suffered after a prison transport van was involved in an accident.

Scott Tenney and six other prisoners were being transported from Circuit Court to the Oahu Community Correctional Center (OCCC) on January 30, 2007 when the accident occurred. A Mercedes had slowed for a yellow light, and the prison van rear-ended it.
The prisoners were transported in ankle and hand shackles. They were unable to use the seat belts, which were so rarely utilized that they were tied to the windows of the van. As a result, Tenney was thrown back and forth against the seats.

The transport guards informed an arriving ambulance crew that the prisoners would receive medical care at OCCC, and a police report stated none of the prisoners had injuries. Tenney, however, complained about neck pain upon his arrival at OCCC.

Despite almost daily complaints, Tenney was not examined for five months. He required surgery when he was eventually examined by medical staff.

The State of Hawaii agreed to pay Tenney $149,500 in January 2011; the insurance company covering the Mercedes agreed to pay $500 towards the settlement.

KITV in Hawaii videotaped a prison transport vehicle following the settlement agreement. It showed, as claimed by Tenney’s attorneys, that guards placed shackled prisoners in vans without using seat belts. The attorneys said the failure to comply with seatbelt laws was to save time for the guards, who were in a hurry to punch out before their shift ended. See: Tenney v. State of Hawaii Dept. of Public Safety, Circuit Court of the First Circuit (HI), Case No. 1CC09-1-000190.

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Related legal case

Tenney v. State of Hawaii Dept. of Public Safety