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$20,000 Paid by Santa Clara County to Settle Claims of Medical Neglect and Failure to Protect Disabled Prisoner Beaten by Gang Members in County Jail

By Chuck Sharman


A settlement was executed on August 27, 2019, by lawyers for Santa Clara County, California, agreeing to pay $20,000 to a man whom guards at the county jail allegedly denied medically necessary treatment and allowed him also to by beaten by gang members.

The man, Corey Anthony Merino, arrived at the jail on May 25, 2017, advising intake guards that he was on prescription medication for a back problem that had plagued him for a dozen years. They responded, “In here, you only get ibuprofen,” his complaint noted.

The next day, already feeling his untreated back pain spiking, he was transferred from the main jail to the Elmwood facility and placed in a housing pod with members of the Norteño gang, two of whom sexually harassed him. When he reported them to guards, the other gang members set upon him, beating him viciously while guards allegedly stood at a distance and watched without attempting to intervene.

Merino’s injuries were so severe that he had to be transported to a hospital emergency room for treatment, returning to the jail with his jaw wired shut and permanent damage to one eye. Still he was denied pain medication or even a visit to an oral surgeon when his jaw wiring came off.

Merino then filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on May 17, 2018, accusing the county and its jail guards of medical negligence and indifference, as well as failure to protect him from foreseeable harm, plus violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §12101 et seq., and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. §794. His complaint was amended twice, on August 28, 2018, and on June 25, 2019.

The county responded on July 9, 2019, denying the allegations. The parties then reached their settlement agreement. Merino was represented by attorneys Karina A. Smith and Brooke Chatterton of the Palo Alto office of Baker Botts.


See: Marino v. Cnty. of Santa Clara, USDC (N.D.Ca.), Case No. 5:18-cv-02899-VDK.

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Related legal case

Marino v. Cnty. of Santa Clara