Former Inmate Sues Payne County Jail For Denying HIV Medications

Tuesday, February 5th 2013, 6:17 pm
By: News On 6

A Payne County man who was arrested says he was held in solitary confinement and denied his medicine - all because he is HIV positive. He has filed a lawsuit against Payne County and the jail's medical provider saying they violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The man wants to send a message to jails across Oklahoma that just because someone has a chronic medical condition they should not be sent to solitary confinement.

He only wants to be known as John Doe but this 45-year old man is asking for at least $75,000 from Payne County. He's filed a federal lawsuit saying the jail and its medical provider refused to allow access to his medication and placed him in isolation for 47 days.

"I was by myself. In a cell, with nothing," he said. "I was treated like an outcast."

Doe was charged with reckless display of a firearm last February when he was holding a gun as a police officer came to his door. He told jailers at the Payne County Detention Center he was HIV positive, and they took note he had two HIV medications: one had a 19 day supply, the other enough for 18 days.

"It's a life-saving medication. It's not a preventative medication, it's life saving," John Doe said.

The medicine costs $1,800 for two bottles, but Doe gets his paid for through a federal program. According to Doe's attorney, the program states that if someone is in jail, the detention center is required to pay for the medication.

But Doe says he went 14 days without his medication.

In addition, he says, the jail placed him in isolation, only a one-hour break everyday.

Dan Bewley, News On 6: "Do you think this was because you are HIV positive?"
John Doe, Former Inmate: "I know it was because I was HIV positive. They told me that."

John Doe's attorney says this problem is all too common. He says it's important for the people who run the jails to know that they can't discriminate based on a medical condition, and it's their responsibility to provide an inmate their medication.

"It has happened in other jail facilities. We have litigated a previous case in Craig County dealing with the same thing," said Spencer Bryan, Doe's attorney.

Doe calls this blatant discrimination and hopes his case helps put a stop to it. He says jailors and county officials need to understand the law and stop being afraid of someone who is HIV positive.

I left messages for all of the Payne County Board of Commissioners, only one returned my call. Zach Cavett said he could not comment because he has not seen the lawsuit.