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Patricia O'Connell
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Wiley Rein Donates Funds from Fluvanna Prisoner Health Case Settlement to the Washington Lawyers’ Committee and Legal Aid Justice Center of Charlottesville

April 29, 2016

Washington, DC—Wiley Rein donated $575,000 to the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs (WLC) and the Legal Aid Justice Center of Charlottesville (LAJC) from the firm’s share of the attorneys’ fees awarded as part of the 2014 settlement in a landmark pro bono case brought on behalf of nearly 1,200 prisoners at the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women (FCCW).

In February 2016, the state of Virginia agreed to pay fees to the lawyers who had sued to force improvements in medical care for women prisoners, as an element of a comprehensive settlement agreement that was approved by U.S. District Judge Norman K. Moon. Judge Moon also approved the performance monitoring plan, which includes oversight by an outside expert on prison medical care. The judge noted that the case demonstrated “systemic violations” of constitutional standards through “a host of deficient policies, practices and procedures.”

Wiley Rein, along with the LAJC and the WLC, originally filed the class action lawsuit in 2012. The lawsuit alleged that the Virginia Department of Corrections (VDOC) and its private, for-profit medical care contractors violated the female inmates’ constitutional rights by failing to provide adequate medical care in contravention of the Eighth Amendment prohibition against “cruel and unusual punishment.” The complaint described substandard health care conditions that led to numerous life-threatening complications for the clients, significant pain and suffering, and even premature deaths.

The settlement provides a framework for significant reforms of and improvements to all aspects of the medical care at FCCW, subject to the critical oversight of the court-appointed Compliance Monitor and the district court’s continuing supervisory jurisdiction.