Stoel Rives Gets Important Ruling in Pro Bono Case to Insure Inmate Health Care

Press Release
BOISE- In a case that began more than three decades ago, U.S. District Judge David O. Carter sanctioned the Idaho Department of Correction (IDOC) for misleading a Court-appointed special master about the delivery of medical and mental health care at the Idaho State Correctional Institution (ISCI). The plaintiffs, a class of inmates, moved for sanctions against IDOC. They were represented by Stoel Rives LLP during the two-day evidentiary hearing.

At issue was whether IDOC should be sanctioned for destroying or altering documents or otherwise presenting misleading information to the special master when he visited ISCI in September 2011 and January 2012 to evaluate the medical and mental health care delivery system at ISCI. This case was initially filed in 1981.

The Court found that IDOC acted with improper purpose to keep the Court’s special master from “appreciating the true extent to which ISCI failed to keep adequate records related to mental health care” and “attempted to put forward its ‘best face’ as opposed to sincerely trying to improve its delivery of mental health care over the long term.” The Court also noted that, “ISCI attempted to paper over and mislead the special master about the inadequacies of its mental health care system rather than risk a bad finding by the special master, which might have led to a court order to improve their system.” The Court concluded that “ISCI’s pattern of allowing its employees to manipulate inmate medical files before, during, and after the special master’s visit for inappropriate purposes crosses the line.”

The Court’s remedies include restarting an existing two-year compliance monitoring period to conclude September 1, 2017 and a requirement that IDOC bear the burden to prove there are no ongoing constitutional violations before the Court will terminate the injunctive relief related to the delivery of medical and mental health care. In addition, the Court ordered IDOC to pay reasonable attorney’s fees and costs incurred by Plaintiffs in bringing the Motion for Sanctions.

The Stoel Rives team included Christopher Pooser, partner; Elijah Watkins, associate; Andrea W. Reynolds, associate; and Jackie Franolich, paralegal.

About Stoel Rives LLP: Stoel Rives is a business law firm providing corporate and litigation services to a wide range of clients throughout the United States. The firm has nearly 400 attorneys operating out of 12 offices in seven states and the District of Columbia. Stoel Rives is a leader in corporate, energy, environmental, intellectual property, labor and employment, land use and construction, litigation, natural resources, project development and real estate law. For more information, visit

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