Prison purportedly adhering to law in bungle’s aftermath
Anthony Skeens, The Triplicate
A settlement has been reached in a lawsuit against the state for exposing employee personnel information to Pelican Bay State Prison inmates.
The settlement last week came after five years of litigation stemming from two incidents in 2006 when the prison allowed inmates to help dispose of files, some of which held personnel records of employees, and kept them in an unsecured area inmates could access.
Information from at least 64 employees — ranging from wardens to correctional officers and including social security numbers, driver license numbers and home addresses — were found in the possession of inmates.
The settlement awarded a total of $175,000 to 23 plaintiffs to pay for credit-monitoring services and court costs…
“Since the lawsuit was filed they basically fought it tooth and nail every possible way; even going as far as the appellate court and that was rejected,” said George Mavris, an attorney for the plaintiffs. “Following the eve of trial, we ended up settling the case.”
The suit was filed on the grounds that CDCR violated the Information Practices Act, was negligent and inflicted emotional distress. It was not filed as a way to gain monetary benefit, but to change Pelican Bay’s policy for handling personnel information, Mavris said…
CDCR attorneys’ main stance was that there was no evidence to show actual harm resulting from a “brief exposure or potential exposure” of personnel information and the CDCR could not be held accountable for the inmates’ actions, court documents indicate…(Full text at The Triplicate)
Paco finds it remarkable CDCR would fight this tooth-and-nail for 5 years when the violation of the law was so clear and harm so real–The State wasted untold funds fighting the inevitable until the 11th hour. After all that, each of the 23 who pursued the case will receive $7,608.69, most of which will undoubtedly go to attorneys.
Meanwhile, no one was held responsible for giving inmates access to private, personal and personnel information.
On the up side, the plaintiff’s attorney reports Pelican Bay has changed its procedures as a result of the suit. Five years and all that money just to get state managers to comply with state law!
In the future, PBSP staff whose rights have been trampled may want to consider a hunger strike–It only took 3 weeks for CDCR to roll over for the last one. –