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Ninth Circuit rules on 'pattern of behavior' issue in Corizon Health case

by Kevin Bliss

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that Corizon Health Inc. acted as a state agency when providing health care to Arizona prisoners, and established a policy of neglect that violated constitutional rights and, as such, was vulnerable to civil action.

Ronald Edward Oyenik, represented by the Prison Law Office, alleged that he had been denied or delayed cancer treatment for nearly a year. He sued and Corizon asked for summary judgment on the basis that Monell v. Department of Social Services of the City of New York applied to a state agency’s private contractor. Summary judgment was granted and Oyenik appealed.

The court held that Monell, a decision by the Supreme Court that exempted a government from being sued unless the injury was due to the policy or custom of that government, applied to a state agency’s private contractor. Subsequently, they were also responsible if the injury was due to their policy or custom. In addition, contrary to the District Court’s findings, a pattern of deliberate indifference could be established from a single individual and that Oyenik had shown a sufficient number of incidents to claim this pattern as a policy of Corizon’s. They held that the District Court erred in granting summary judgment, reversed the decision, and remanded it for further review.

See: Oyenik v. Corizon Health Inc., __ F.3d__ (9th Cir. 2017)


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Related legal case

Oyenik v. Corizon Health Inc.