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California: State Settles Prisoner’s Lawsuit for $10,000, then Delays Payment

In June 2010, Cion Adonis Peralta signed a Full Release of All Claims in a federal lawsuit he filed in 2005, alleging that officials at CSP-Lancaster had violated his rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. In exchange for agreeing to voluntarily dismiss his complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(1), Peralta received consideration in the amount of $10,000.

Peralta had filed suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that beginning in August 2000, while housed at the California State Prison in Los Angeles County, he was repeatedly assigned an upper bunk on an upper tier despite having a medical condition requiring that he be placed in a lower bunk on a lower tier.

In his complaint, Peralta documented his repeated requests to be moved to medically-appropriate housing, which were ignored. He further documented that he sustained injuries in falls which resulted from his being inappropriately housed, and that he consequently wound up first on crutches and later, for a time, in a wheelchair.

Peralta sought $500,000 in compensatory and punitive damages, claiming that prison officials were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs, had subjected him to cruel and unusual punishment, and had violated his due process rights.

After settling the case, however, Peralta had difficulty in getting the state to pay up. He filed a motion to enforce the settlement on November 29, 2010. An attorney for the state responded, saying the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation “had a back log of settlements that it was processing due to the late passage of the State’s budget.” While the payment was supposed to be made by February 2011, it was further delayed “because an individual within the State Controller’s office responsible for issuing the check had to leave work to attend an emergency funeral.”

A year later, in February 2012, there is no indication on the district court’s docket that the state had paid the $10,000 settlement to Peralta. See: Peralta v. Caire, U.S.D.C. (C.D. Cal.), Case No. 2:05-cv-03662-GHK-PLA.

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Related legal case

Peralta v. Caire