Jefferson: Judge rules jail lawsuit should be class-action

PORT HADLOCK — A U.S. District Court Judge in Tacoma ruled Wednesday that a lawsuit over alleged substandard Jefferson County jail conditions should be certified for class-action status.

Judge Robert J. Bryan ruled that the lawsuit filed by American Civil Liberties Union in February should be expanded to include all jail inmates.

The ruling followed the Aug. 23 submission of written testimony from two dozen inmates with complaints about jail conditions.

The lawsuit was initially filed on behalf of only one inmate, Shawn Orndorff.

In the written testimony, the two dozen inmates said they were denied medication and medical care, exposed to unsanitary conditions and denied access to legal resources while incarcerated.

“Problems with health care, inadequate environmental health and sanitation, and access to the courts . . . (are) claims common to inmates incarcerated at the jail,” Bryan wrote in his decision.

A “fact-finding” phase to determine whether the claims are supported by evidence will take place over the next several months.

The case is tentatively set for trial April 7.

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