State, ACLU working on prison lawsuit

CARSON CITY — The state of Nevada and the American Civil Liberties Union are trying to finalize an agreement to settle a lawsuit over medical care for inmates at the maximum-security prison in Ely, officials confirmed Wednesday.

The state Board of Examiners will be asked Monday to approve $325,000 in fees for the ACLU in the 2008 case that was certified as a class action by a federal judge last year.

The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Reno asked the court to appoint a monitor to oversee medical care for about 1,000 inmates at the prison.

But Jim Spencer, a lawyer with the attorney general’s office, said a monitor is not part of the proposed settlement. He said other details won’t be released until after the board votes on fees.

ACLU attorney Lee Rowland also declined to comment.

The lawsuit, which did not seek monetary damages, claimed medical care at the prison was so poor that all inmates are subjected to “constant significant risk of serious injury, medical harm, premature death and the needless infliction of great physical pain and suffering.”

The Board of Examiners is comprised of Gov. Jim Gibbons, Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto and Secretary of State Ross Miller. All three also make up the state Prison Board, which was named as a defendant in the lawsuit along with Department of Corrections officials.

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