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Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction Fussell v. Wilkinson Summary

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The complaint of Fussell v. Wilkinson was filed in federal court in Cincinnati on October 14, 2003. This was an inmate class action lawsuit challenging the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction’s (ODRC) provision of inmate medical and dental services.

Watch a video describing the Fussell case

After some procedural matters were resolved, plaintiffs and defendants agreed to suspend expensive and time-consuming discovery proceedings. Fred Cohen, Esq., was asked to assemble a team of medical experts, conduct an investigation into the plaintiff’s claims, and file a report with both parties.

After an extensive investigation, the report was filed on January 26, 2005. This led to extensive, settlement-type, negotiations ending in an agreement that served as the basis for the final stipulation. On November 15, 2005, Federal District Court Judge Sandra Beckwith approved the stipulation.

The stipulation, which has a five-year life, is the equivalent of an order enforceable by the Federal District Court, Southern District of Ohio. ODRC has agreed to a number of items that ultimately will greatly improve inmate medical and dental care, including but not limited to the following: general medical principals, increased staffing levels, revision of policies and procedures, and various studies and activities. Fred Cohen, Esq., has been appointed as the Independent Consultant (IC) and will act as the head of the Medical Oversight Committee (MOC). The stipulation is a binding agreement, enforceable in federal court with a provision for monitoring by the Medical Oversight Committee.

Although Fussell v. Wilkinson did address both inmate medical and dental services, the original investigation by the team of medical experts into the plaintiff’s claims did not include dentists. Thus, Fred Cohen, Esq., was asked to assemble a team of dental experts, conduct a specific investigation concerning ODRC’s inmate dental services, and file a report with both parties.

After an extensive investigation, the dental report was filed on March 7, 2006. Again, this led to settlement-type negotiations which mirrored the previous medical report process. These negotiations served as a basis for the February 26, 2007, filing of the Fussell Agreement on Dental Care in the Federal District Court, Southern District of Ohio. This agreement became part of the original Fussell Stipulation.

The medical and dental stipulation is a binding agreement, enforceable in federal court with a provision for monitoring by the Medical and Dental Oversight Committees

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