Lawsuit claims Vt. inmates denied hepatitis C treatment

BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) The American Civil Liberties Union of Vermont is suing the state of Vermont after the organization claims state agencies refused to treat hundreds of inmates diagnosed with chronic hepatitis C.

The class action case was filed in federal court Tuesday in Burlington on behalf of two Vermont prisoners -- Richard West and Joseph Bruyette -- who claim they have been denied treatment without medical justification.

Hepatitis C if left untreated can cause serious health problems, including liver damage and even death.

The ACLU claims the lack of treatment violates the Eighth Amendment prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Corrections Commissioner Michael Touchette said he hadn't been served the lawsuit. He said the department's worked closely with Vermont Legal Aid and University of Vermont infectious disease specialists to ensure provisions of HCV care are at the prevailing standards.