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Idaho Prisoner Wins $602,000 Settlement against Corizon

Idaho Prisoner Wins $602,000 Settlement against Corizon

by Derek Gilna

An Idaho state prisoner, William A. Bown, obtained a $602,782.50 settlement from Corizon Health in July 2014 for damages resulting from deliberately indifferent medical care arising from a heart attack he suffered at the Idaho Maximum Security Institution.

Although Bown had complained of acute left arm pain and a burning pain in his chest, prison health officials employed by Corizon refused to transport him to a hospital in a timely manner, resulting in serious physical injuries. St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center later diagnosed him as having experienced a heart attack that caused irreversible damage.

Corizon agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by Bown in state court, while a separate suit raising federal civil rights claims against both Corizon and the Idaho Department of Correction (IDOC) was stayed pending resolution of the state court action.

Bown attempted to amend his complaint following the settlement with Corizon, removing the company as a defendant, but the state objected to the amended complaint, arguing that the release with Corizon also operated as a release for any claims Bown had against the IDOC for the same injuries. The federal district court strongly disagreed.

In a terse opinion, the court wrote that “Under the [Corizon settlement] Release Agreement, ‘Releasees’ are unambiguously defined as only the Corizon Defendants and not the IDOC Defendants.... This conclusion is so patently clear, that the Defendants’ opposition to the Motion to Amend borders on being frivolous.”

Corizon has been cited in several other states for failure to provide adequate medical care to prisoners, and has lost several of its prison health services contracts as a result. [See: PLN, Oct. 2015, p.20; March 2014, p.1]. Further, the IDOC had previously sanctioned Corizon for substandard medical care, levying fines totaling $270,000 in 2010 and 2011. In his federal lawsuit, Bown alleged that IDOC officials failed to properly oversee the company’s contract, resulting in his heart attack and permanent injuries.

The district court entered an order granting Bown’s motion to amend his complaint on June 25, 2015, and the case remains pending against the IDOC defendants. See: Bown v. Reinke, U.S.D.C. (D. Idaho), Case No. 1:12-cv-00262-BLW.

Additional source: Associated Press

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Related legal case

Bown v. Reinke