Inmates say they got Hepatitis C from tainted razors
CALDWELL, Idaho (AP) — Seven jail inmates say in a legal filing that they tested positive for hepatitis C after being given used razors to shave.
The Idaho Press reported Friday the inmates say a deputy pulled the used razors from a biohazard waste box and gave them out. They’re asking for more than $500,000 in damages.
Hepatitis C is a virus that attacks the liver, and it is easily spread through contact with contaminated blood.
State law requires people who want to sue a government agency to first file a tort claim, which gives the agency six months to resolve the matter before a lawsuit may be filed.
Seth Freeman said in one claim that the incident happened March 25, when he and several other inmates lined up to receive razors to shave. As he was shaving, Freeman said he noticed his razor was dull and he had cut himself a few times. He said he heard yelling from the rest of the inmates, who said they had taken the razor covers off and found skin and hair on them.
Freeman, who is currently on probation, said he had been tested for hepatitis C several months earlier and was negative. Another test done after the shaving incident showed he had the virus, according to the claim.
“It was really scary at first because there are a lot of things that could go wrong in that scenario,” Freeman said. “We could have gotten AIDS, hepatitis A or B. Having hepatitis C was unnerving.”
“They should be providing us with our basic necessities,” Freeman added.
Freeman said the deputy who handed out the razors later admitted he had pulled them from a biohazard box. In the claims the inmates contend that surveillance video shows an admission of guilt from the jail staffers.
Canyon County spokesman Joe Decker declined to comment, but said the claims had been sent to the insurance pool that handles liability coverage and risk management for Idaho counties.
Canyon County has until the end of November to decide whether to respond. If the inmates are unhappy with the response, they will be able to file lawsuits against the county.
Information from: Idaho Press, http://www.idahopress.com