Class-action suit filed over COVID-19 outbreak at OCCC

Lawsuit targets state leaders over hundreds of illnesses in Hawaii's largest jail

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Several inmates and an adult correctional officer at the Oahu Community Correctional Center have filed a class-action lawsuit, alleging state that prison officials failed to protect staffers there and housed sick inmates with healthy ones.

A total of 400 people -- 310 inmates and 90 staffers -- were infected at the prison, making it the largest cluster in the state.

“This was not just negligence, it was not indifference. It was in our view malicious that they did not take proper steps to protect people who cannot protect themselves," said attorney Eric Seitz, who filed the lawsuit.

Because the lawsuit seeks class-action status, anyone who was infected at the prison is potentially eligible to join the suit

Among the allegations: One inmates who got sick said he was required to work in a kitchen with a prison staffer who was infected with COVID.

Another prisoner said that he got infected after he was placed in the same room for two days with another inmate, who was feverish and later tested positive.

The ACO alleged that she was assigned to one of the prison’s annexes where there were 65 positive cases.

The Department of Public Safety had no immediate comment on the suit but has said that it has provided staff with proper equipment, including face shields, mask and gloves.

It’s also now conducting mass testing at all of its facilities. It said that 90 percent of the inmates and staffers infected at OCCC have since recovered.

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