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Appeals court panel rejects Texas inmates’ COVID-19 lawsuit

Amid spiking COVID-19 infections, prisons turning to solitary confinement to reduce spread of virus
Posted at 1:47 PM, Mar 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-28 14:47:24-04

HOUSTON, TX — A federal appeals court Friday struck down a lawsuit brought by elderly inmates of a Texas prison who alleged the state did not implement adequate measures to shield them from COVID-19.

Two male inmates of the Wallace Pack Unit near Houston filed a class-action lawsuit alleging that the conditions there violated their constitutional rights by endangering their health and safety.

A federal judge in Houston had agreed and ordered the state to equip inmates with protective equipment. Last June, the appeals court panel overturned the order, saying the state was in substantial compliance. The three-judge appeals court panel on Friday ruled in favor of the state.

Brandon Duke, one of the inmates’ attorneys, said the decision was disappointing, “but we do agree with the court that the suit, as stated in the opinion, ‘played a role in motivating the prison officials into action and saved countless lives.’ That was the ultimate goal of the case.”

It’s unclear whether further appeals are planned.