PRAIRIE DU CHIEN, Wis. — Ten inmates at a Prairie du Chien Correctional Institution filed a lawsuit claiming they were repeatedly exposed to asbestos and black mold and were denied access to “sanitary cleaning supplies.”
Eleven prison employees are listed as defendants in the suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin. The inmates seek about $15 million total in damages and call for the evacuation of inmates to minimum-security facilities in the interest of prisoner safety.
The Wisconsin Department of Corrections has not yet filed a response, according to online court records.
“The DOC does not comment on pending litigation,” a department official wrote in an email response to a request seeking comment for this story.
The petition was filed by Nicasio C. Quiles II, 45, on behalf of several fellow inmates. Quiles, who was convicted on multiple felony counts of failure to pay child support, will be incarcerated at the facility until at least 2022, according to online court records.
The 17-page document outlines myriad claims, including that prison employees exposed inmates to asbestos, a cancer-causing fire suppressant commonly found in older structures, as well as water “known to carry” radium, gross alpha and rust, elements that “impact the plaintiffs greatly.”
Additionally, the suit claims prisoners are exposed to extreme heat “due to the malicious denial by prisons to retrofit buildings with air conditioning” and “exposure to mold infestations.”
Inmates claim “appropriate standards of medical care and medical treatment(s) have been arbitrarily denied by (the prison’s) Health Services Unit,” according to the petition.
Each of the 10 plaintiffs seeks $250,000 in compensatory damages from former Warden Tim Haines, as well as $250,000 from Kevin Semanko, the facility’s deputy warden.
The inmates also seek $1 million each in punitive damages from the defendants collectively.