Inmates with HIV v. Goord, 90 CV 252 (N.D.N.Y.)

Nature of Claims: This case, a class action on behalf of all state prisoners with HIV, challenges the failure of the state prison system to provide adequate medical care to persons with HIV infection and AIDS, in violation of the Eighth Amendment’s cruel and unusual punishments clause.

Current Status: The quality of HIV care has improved very substantially during the pendency of this case, partly because of its pendency and class counsel’s participation in other forums addressing HIV care in prison. The parties agreed to a settlement in January 2007, with a term of two years. Following a fairness hearing, the Court approved the settlement agreement in August 2007. The settlement focuses on measures to ensure the provision of acceptable medical care for class members, including: criteria for referral to HIV specialists; an HIV Specialist certification program for prison medical staff; HIV-related training requirements for health care providers; and statewide implementation of an HIV-related quality improvement program, based on the State Department of Health’s HIVQUAL. Monitoring of compliance during the two years of the agreement showed good performance. The monitoring period concluded in January 2009. While we are hopeful that the reforms achieved by the settlement agreement are now well established, we will continue to address complaints from HIV positive prisoners about their medical care.

Persons Affected: The class includes all HIV-positive persons in the state prison system; about 4,000 to 5,000 at any given time.

Reported decisions: Inmates of New York State with Human Immune Deficiency Virus v. Cuomo, 1990 WL 73418 (May 31, 1990) (certifying class and denying individual notice); Inmates of New York State with Human Immune Deficiency Virus v. Cuomo, 1991 WL 16032 (Feb. 7, 1991) (refusing to order defendants to produce unredacted records identifying class members); Inmates of New York with Human Immunodeficiency Virus v. Cuomo, 1992 WL 373516 (Nov. 30, 1992) (denying defendant’s motion for reconsideration of order compelling disclosure of medical quality assurance documents).