Possible settlement reached in lawsuit over Southern Regional Jail conditions 

By: - November 7, 2023 5:03 pm

A proposed settlement has been reached between some parties in a lawsuit alleging inhumane conditions at Southern Regional Jail in Beaver, W.Va. (Chris Jackson | West Virginia Watch)

A proposed settlement has been reached between some parties in a lawsuit alleging inhumane conditions at a Raleigh County jail.

The plaintiffs, inmates at Southern Regional Jail, and state defendants  — former Division of Corrections Commissioner Betsy Jividen; former Homeland Security Secretary Jeff Sandy; former interim corrections commissioner Brad Douglas; current Corrections Commissioner William Marshall and former jail warden Micheal Francis — have reached an agreement, U.S. District Judge Frank Volk wrote in an order filed Tuesday.  

“These parties believe that this resolution will require the formulation of a Limited Fund Class Action and ultimately approval of the Court,” Volk said. “This resolution does not include the other parties, namely the Counties and medical providers (Primecare and Wexford).”

The agreement has yet to be approved by the court. 

SRJ order 20231107


The complaint, filed in September 2022, alleges the defendants subjected inmates to inhumane conditions and deprived them of basic human necessities with regard to pervasive overcrowding, faulty plumbing, unsanitary living conditions, inadequate food and bedding, among other things. 

The settlement comes about a week after a federal magistrate found that defendants intentionally destroyed evidence, and recommended the judge side with the plaintiffs in the case and issue a summary judgment. After U.S. Magistrate Omar Aboulhosn’s order last week, the Justice administration announced that missing evidence in the lawsuit had been located and two top Department of Homeland Security employees fired.

Justice and his chief of staff Brian Abraham have resisted giving sworn testimony in the lawsuit. 

Steve New, a Beckley attorney representing the defendants, declined to comment on the proposed agreement Tuesday afternoon. An attorney representing state officials in the case as well as spokespeople for the Office of Gov. Jim Justice did not immediately reply to an email seeking comment. A spokesperson for the Division of Corrections declined to comment before the settlement was approved.

A status hearing in the case is slated for 12:30 p.m. Thursday in Beckley. 


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Lori Kersey
Lori Kersey

Lori Kersey is a reporter with a decade of experience reporting in West Virginia. She covers state government for West Virginia Watch.