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Ninth Circuit Upholds Class Action Challenging Prison Conditions

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has refused to reconsider a class action by 33,000 Arizona prison inmates over a strong dissent, Courthouse News' Tim Hull reports. The dissent said that inmates failed to demonstrate that their class has commonality and typicality: "'First, before certifying a class, a court must ensure that all members of the potential class have the same sort of claim, and that the claim is susceptible to classwide resolution. Second, a prisoner does not have an Eighth Amendment claim merely because the prisoner is incarcerated in a prison with a defective medical system,'" Judge Sandra Ikuta wrote.

The plaintiffs allege that inadequate healthcare in Arizona's prisons has violated their Eighth Amendment rights. For example, prison officials allegedly made it difficult for inmates to get medications, medical devices and dental care beyond having their teeth pulled.

The case has now settled, and the dissent said class certification should be vacated despite the mootness issues.