One of the 14 inmates who settled their lawsuit against Department of Corrections officials in 2018, is suing former and current DOC officials again in federal court for alleged broken promises and subjecting him to unlawful treatment.
Price Shoiter, through counsel Michael W. Dotts, is suing former DOC commissioner Vincent S. Attao, DOC Commissioner Wally Villagomez, and DOC officials Gregory Castro and Georgia Cabrera, in their personal capacities.
Shoiter is suing Attao, Villagomez, Castro, and Cabrera for violation of Civil Rights under the 8th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the CNMI Constitution, violation of the Northern Mariana Islands Administrative Code, gross negligence, and emotional distress.
Shoiter asked the U.S. District Court for the NMI to hold the defendants liable to pay him damages in an amount to be proven at trial.
The inmate requested the court to issue a judgment declaring that Attao, Castro, Cabrera, and Villagomez’s policies, practices, acts are unlawful and violate his rights under the Constitution and laws of the U.S. and the CNMI.
He moved the court to enjoin Attao, Castro, Cabrera, Villagomez, and their subordinates from subjecting him to the unlawful and unconstitutional treatment.
Shoiter asked the court to maintain ongoing supervisory jurisdiction of this matter in order to monitor and enforce Attao, Castro, Cabrera, and Villagomez full and continuing compliance with the injunctive relief ordered.
He also demanded an award of attorney’s fees and litigation costs.
According to Dotts in the complaint, a written grievance addressed to Villagomez on Oct. 1, 2019 stated that Shoiter was bringing his serious medical needs to the attention of Villagomez for the wanton and unnecessary infliction of pain that is the touchstone of the 8th Amendment.
Dotts said Shoiter sought immediate action from Villagomez for his serious medical needs.
Dotts said as of today, Villagomez, Attao, Castro, and Cabrera have not fully answered Shoiter’s request for adequate medical care despite the settlement agreement entered into on Aug. 15, 2018, the numerous written grievances, and letter by attorney Jeanne Rayphand of the Northern Marianas Protection and Advocacy Systems Inc.
Dotts said Attao broke nearly all the promises given to Shoiter in the settlement agreement.
On medical care, the lawyer said Shoiter has yet to receive the second treatment shot to his left knee as recommended by a doctor at the Commonwealth Health Center.
As a result, Shoiter allegedly continues to experience pain and suffering to his knees and has to walk with a crutch.
Dotts said despite recommendation from two doctors that plaintiff should be referred to a cardiologist, he has yet to receive an appointment to see one.
On dental care, Dotts said Shoiter is still waiting for his dentures to be replaced and he is experiencing difficulty eating.
Regarding eyecare, the lawyer said an eye doctor recommended surgery on Shoiter’s right eye, but he has yet to receive surgery and has blurry vision.
Pertaining to medication, Shoiter was allegedly given twice expired medicines.
On staffing matters, Dotts said DOC did not hire an on-call nurse, psychologist, or psychiatrist.
In 2014, Shoiter was convicted and served prison term for sexually abusing a minor girl. In September 2016, Superior Court Associate Judge Kenneth L. Govendo slapped Shoiter with a 10-year prison term for pleading guilty in connection with the charges that he sexually abused again another minor girl in Dandan.
In August 2018, U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona dismissed with prejudice a lawsuit filed by Shoiter and 13 other inmates against then-DOC commissioner Attao and DOC director Castro.
Dismissal with prejudice means the 14 inmates can no longer re-file the case.
Manglona ordered the dismissal because the parties have reached a settlement and requested the court to drop the case.
Manglona said she dismissed the case provided however, that the court will retain jurisdiction for the purpose of enforcing the terms of the settlement.
The judge instructed the clerk to close the case.
Attao and Castro settled the lawsuit.
The inmates sued Attao and Castro for cruel and unusual punishment for allegedly providing them inadequate medical care and inadequate mental health treatment, and subjecting them to solitary confinement.
By entering the settlement deal, Attao and Castro are not making any admission of liability. They have disputed the merits and validity of the inmates’ claims.
Attao and Castro, in their official capacities, and the 14 inmates signed the settlement agreement.
NMPASI legal counsel Rayphand represented the inmates in that lawsuit.
The settlement is trying to resolve the issues of medical care, mental health care, dental care, eye care, medications, sanctions matter, records, and DOC rules, regulations, policies, and procedures.