In a significant development in the ongoing case against the Monterey County Jail and its contracted for-profit medical provider, Wellpath, Inc., the court has ordered the unsealing of over thirty reports prepared by court-appointed neutral monitors. The order is here. Links to the expert reports are set out below.
Voice of Monterey Bay reported on the release of the reports on August 10, 2023, Newly released records detail horrific health care failures at Monterey County Jail, as did Monterey Weekly on August 11, Appeals court decision allows release of thousands of pages of documents about conditions in Monterey County Jail, and September 14, New documents reveal how Monterey County Jail and prison health contractor Wellpath are still failing incarcerated people.
These reports evaluate Defendants’ compliance with the Settlement Agreement and Implementation Plan requirements for medical, mental health, and dental care provided to incarcerated people at the Jail. See our previous post, Pain, Death and Secrets in Monterey County Jail – Plaintiffs in Jail Litigation Ask Court to Enforce Settlement Agreement and Implementation Plan, for more information about the case.
The Court’s decision validates Plaintiffs’ longstanding assertion that the reports should be made public, rejecting the County’s claims that the reports were confidential under the parties’ protective order and that ongoing secrecy was necessary to maintain free flow of information between the parties and the neutral monitors. The Court rejected the County’s argument that the monitors’ desire for confidentiality constituted a “compelling reason” for sealing, citing the Supreme Court’s stance that blanket protective orders should not unduly restrict access to information.
The Court’s ruling also approved narrow redactions safeguarding personal identifying information and sensitive medical records.
This ruling marks a significant step towards shedding a light on the urgent need for accountability and immediate reforms at issue in Plaintiffs’ pending Motion to Enforce the Settlement Agreement and Implementation Plan. The motion is set for a hearing in San Jose on August 24 before Hon. Beth Labson Freeman.
In an attempt to keep the monitor reports secret from the public, Wellpath appealed the Court’s order to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and asked the Court to stay the unsealing of the reports. On August 9, 2023 the Ninth Circuit denied Wellpath’s motion to stay and the reports became public. The Ninth Circuit order is here.
Links to the Expert Reports:
Selected media coverage:
Judge unseals Monterey County Jail’s Medical Inspections, Voices of Monterey Bay, July 22, 2023