Scabies outbreak spreads to men’s jail; Lawsuit filed against contractor

(Photo: WKRN)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The scabies outbreak that affected dozens of female inmates at a Nashville jail has spread to inmates at the nearby men’s facility.

Metro Public Health Department officials say at least two new scabies cases were reported Monday morning at the men’s facility run by private contractor CoreCivic.

All male inmates at the Harding Place facility will be treated for scabies as a precaution.

A Metro Public Health Department official told News 2 Monday night the outbreak is under investigation.

The news comes after at least 39 inmates were infected by scabies rashes at the women’s facility.

Last month, the outbreak also spread to the Justice A.A. Birch general sessions court building in downtown Nashville.

(Photo: WKRN)

An unknown number of infected inmates were transferred to court hearings, where the parasites spread to courthouse employees, lawyers, and members of the general public.

As a result, a Nashville attorney has filed a lawsuit against CoreCivic, formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America (CCA).

Attorney Gary Blackburn has filed the lawsuit and will seek class action certification. He says at least 40 people were infected by scabies because of the courthouse outbreak, including family members of people who work at the courthouse.

In addition to damages for pain and suffering and lost wages, Blackburn is also seeking punitive damages for his clients.

“When this happens, it’s highly contagious. So people have to be quarantined,” Blackburn said. “One of my clients missed his daughter’s rehearsal dinner because of it. It can cause you to miss time from work.”

Gary Blackburn’s wife, Melissa Blackburn, is also a general sessions court judge.  Last week she sent a letter to Nashville Mayor Megan Barry, saying, “The lack of transparency by CoreCivic pertaining to this event has jeopardized” the health of Metro employees.

Judge Blackburn urged Mayor Barry to “utilize any provisions within Metro’s contract with CoreCivic to hold them accountable for the failure to act.”

News 2 reached out to CoreCivic for comment. Spokeswoman Amanda Gilchrist sent the following statement:

While we don’t comment on pending litigation, the health and safety of our staff, community and those entrusted to our care is our top priority. The Davidson County Sheriff’s Office and the Metro Public Health Department were notified of this issue from the start, and they have been engaged every step of the way. In situations like this, we work hard to follow all protocols and guidelines to mitigate the issue.