Inmates Valley Fever Lawsuits Tossed By Judges

Prison Cell

A U.S. appeals court has thrown out lawsuits by California prison inmates accusing state officials of failing to protect them against an airborne fungus that was more prevalent in prisons.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday that state prison officials could not be sued over Valley Fever because they were acting under the guidance of a federal monitor. The panel also said the officials could have reasonably concluded that the threat to inmates was not grave.

That's because Valley Fever occurs throughout California's Central Valley and elsewhere in the southwestern U.S. The inmates accused prison officials of violating their 8th Amendment rights against cruel and unusual punishment.

Ian Wallach, an attorney for some of the inmates, said the ruling was devastating.

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