September 30, 2021

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A district court denied a motion by Wellpath, the medical provider for the Arkansas Department of Corrections, to dismiss claims that they violated incarcerated individuals rights to a safe environment. The court had already denied a similar motion by the DOC in March. Seventeen incarcerated plaintiffs claimed the Arkansas Department of Corrections and Wellpath have not implemented proper COVID-19 prevention procedures, putting them at risk. The ruling also requires the State to allow the ACLU’s expert to enter the prison units to inspect and report the actual extent of the DOC’s violations of law.

Gary Sullivan, Legal Director of the ACLU of Arkansas issued the following statement in response to the ruling.

"We are pleased that Judge Baker has once again decisively ruled that the prisoner plaintiffs have valid claims to pursue against the DOC and its medical provider.  The State and the medical provider attempted unsuccessfully to prevent incarcerated individuals from moving forward with their claims that the DOC is violating their basic rights to a safe environment with proper COVID-19 prevention procedures in place. This is especially concerning for those suffering from disabilities."

Plaintiffs include Marvin Kent, Michael Kouri, Jonathan Neeley, Alfred Nickson, Trinidad Serrato, Robert Stiggers, Victor Williams, John Doe No. 1, Wesley Bray, Price Brown, John Doe No. 2, Joseph Head, Darryl Hussey, Jimmy Little, Lee Owens, Torris Richardson, and Roderick Wesley.