Minnesota DOC Sued Over Failure to Provide New Hepatitis C Treatment Protocol

On May 1, 2015, two prisoners at MCF-Stillwater filed a civil rights lawsuit against the Minnesota Department of Corrections, Centurion Managed Care (a division of Centene Corporation), DOC Commissioner Tom Roy and several physicians. The suit alleges that the defendants “refuse to provide the ‘breakthrough’ drug treatment, viz. the hepatitis-C [HCV] treatment community standard-of-care, which will cure Plaintiffs’ HCV infection in three months from its inception.”

According to a press release issued by the International Humanitarian Law Institute, the lawsuit is “the first federal civil rights class action in the nation” to challenge the failure of state prison officials to provide prisoners with a new, more effective hepatitis C treatment protocol.

The plaintiffs, Minnesota state prisoners Ronaldo Ligons and Barry Michaelson, seek to represent a class of similarly situated prisoners. Ligons, incarcerated since 1992, was prescribed the standard 48-week HCV treatment protocol using interferon in 2006. The treatment was not successful. Michaelson initially tested negative for HCV but tested positive for the disease in 2010. The suit states that Michaelson tested positive “only after being double-bunked with a bleeding, HCV-positive cellmate and his exposure to other sources of HCV in MN DOC facilities.”

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