OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) — An inmate who has filed a civil rights lawsuit against the Oklahoma County Detention Center over an alleged bed bug infestation is seeking $5 million to build a shelter, drug treatment center and program to help children.
Court documents filed on July 13 show Jose Toman Fonseca believes his 8th Amendment rights were violated when he was denied basic necessities; particularly in connection with cruel and unusual punishments.
In the documents, he claims his food and cell were infested with bed bugs and that he had no access to medical treatment or was poorly cared for.
The Oklahoma County Jail’s youngest inmate was covered in bed bug bites from head to toe
Lawyers said bed bugs could be uncomfortable, unsanitary or maybe even painful, but they probably don’t meet the criteria for violating “cruel and unusual punishments” as described in the 8th Amendment.
“Unfortunately, the situation this man is describing is one that is all too common in the Oklahoma County jail,” said criminal defense attorney Carter Jennings.
The Oklahoma County Detention Center is currently under fire for numerous health and safety violations.
They currently face a $350,000 fine, but the facility’s administrators have appealed.
“There are many things that can happen while someone is incarcerated like this, but it doesn’t necessarily fall under the scope of a civil rights violation,” said attorney and legal expert Ed Blau. “In general, it must be a relatively serious injury.”
The civil rights lawsuit, filed July 13, alleges that Jose Foseca’s civil rights were violated
In the filing, he claimed his cell and his food were infested with bed bugs; a complaint KFOR has heard from several inmates in the past.
But the lawyers that KFOR spoke to said Fonseca needs to provide more evidence, even though the conditions can be dire.
“Being harassed or uncomfortable doesn’t really mean receiving a significant financial reward,” Blau said.
“I don’t want my enemy to be in this place.” Another bed bug horror story from the Oklahoma County jail
Fonseca is seeking a $5 million judgment, but legal experts said a seven-figure settlement is not possible.
“Unfortunately, the Oklahoma government’s cap on claims is $175,000,” Jennings said.
The complaint’s instructions state: “If the evidence shows that you failed to fully comply with any available prison complaints procedure prior to filing this complaint, the court may dismiss the unexhausted claim(s) or enter judgment enacted against you.”
However, Jennings said the lawsuit could result in future inmates being helped.
“Hopefully this will make people aware of how bad conditions in prison are and can be right now,” he said. “Oklahoma County citizens need to know how their incarcerated brothers and sisters are being treated.”
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