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California Federal Court Orders City to Pay $150,000 for Failure to Comply with Jail Settlement

by Chad Marks

n May 2013, a class-action lawsuit was filed on behalf of prisoners housed at the Monterey County Jail in California. A settlement agreement was reached on May 1, 2015, in which the City of Monterey agreed to develop plans to improve medical care, services, programs and activities at the jail. [See: PLN, April 2018, p.58].

Attorneys representing the prisoners were tasked with monitoring the city’s compliance with the agreements. In July 2017, the class members filed a motion to enforce the settlement. They alleged the City of Monterey had not complied with its staffing obligations at the jail, that its proposed telepsychiatry policy did not comply with standards required by the court’s prior order and that the city was denying access to prisoners’ treatment records at the Natividad Medical Center. Those records were instrumental in determining whether the defendants were in compliance with the settlement agreement.

On May 1, 2019, the federal district court agreed that the city was not in full compliance, and found the plaintiffs had established they were entitled to recover fees and expenses in the amount of $150,000.

Once again, the taxpayers in Monterey were left footing the bill due to the city not complying with its legal obligations – which included providing adequate medical care to prisoners. In July 2019, the district court approved a stipulation between the parties and appointed neutral monitors to oversee the settlement agreement going forward. See: Hernandez v. County of Monterey, U.S.D.C. (N.D. Cal.), Case No. 5:13-cv-02354-BLF. 

Related legal case

Hernandez v. County of Monterey