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Corrections denies inmate’s allegations

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THE Department of Corrections is not delaying an inmate’s medical referral due to his ethnicity, Assistant Attorney General Leslie A. Healer said, referring to the lawsuit filed by Price Shoiter in federal court.

He is accusing the department and its officials of breaching a settlement agreement approved by the District Court for the NMI by denying him adequate medical care.

Shoiter said in July 2019 he was admitted to the hospital due to chest pain. A doctor recommended for him to see a cardiologist, but Shoiter was told that he could not be referred because he is a Chuukese national.

Shoiter, who represents himself, is asking the court to award him damages.

Healer, for her part, asked the court to dismiss Shoiter’s complaint for lack of jurisdiction, and for failure to state a claim.

She said the defendants did not violate Shoiter’s equal protection rights.

She said the plaintiff does not state that any of the defendants advised him that he could not be referred since he was a Chuukese national, but he does state that the Northern Marianas Protection and Advocacy Systems Inc. advised him that he could not be referred.

Shoiter has not shown evidence of discriminatory intent or that anyone else was denied a referral due to ethnicity, Healer added.

The settlement agreement Shoiter referred to pertains to the lawsuit of 14 inmates that included him and was filed against Corrections on June 1, 2018.

That lawsuit alleged that Corrections failed to provide constitutionally adequate medical care, mental health care, dental care, and eye care to persons in custody of the department. The lawsuit sought remedies such as the development of a plan “to eliminate the substantial harm the prisoners suffer due to inadequate medical care, mental health care, dental care, and eye care.”

Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona dismissed the lawsuit of the 14 inmates on Aug. 22, 2019, but retained jurisdiction for enforcing the terms of the settlement.

As part of the settlement agreement, (1) Corrections agreed to hire a doctor to treat Shoiter’s knee and shoulder pain; (2) provide continuing dental care including dentures; (3) schedule an eye examination within 60 days and provide any prescribed eye treatment; (4) dispense adequate medication on a regular and timely basis; and (5) give inmates prompt access to an on-site mental health professional.

November 2020 pssnewsletter

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