The State of Nevada on Tuesday agreed to pay $340,000 to a group of inmate firefighters who alleged they were mocked and denied immediate medical care after inadequate equipment led to second-degree burns and their socks melting to their feet, Nevada Currents reports. The state also approved a $126,500 settlement for a woman who was strip searched and interrogated by corrections officers at High Desert State Prison. She alleged she did not provide consent and was not given the opportunity to leave the prison facility, a violation of her constitutional rights and prison policies. In a memo to the board, the state attorney general’s office recommended both settlements in order to avoid the costs of litigation and potential adverse judgments.
The $340,000 settlement will be paid to eight former and current inmates who were injured in April 2021 while working for the state’s wildland firefighting program, which is operated by the Nevada Department of Corrections and the Nevada’s Division of Forestry. As part of the settlement, the Division of Forestry has agreed to provide “renewed, expanded training” to its supervisors and incarcerated firefighters in areas like equipment standards and inspections, as well as regarding disciplinary procedures for employee misconduct. The lawsuit cited a Nevada Inspector General’s investigation into the incident that concluded the inmates had been “academically trained” on the activities they were assigned but “never involved or trained in the practical application.” NDOC as part of the settlement has also agreed to implement a policy to ensure that any incarcerated firefighter who reports a work-related injury not be reassigned in retaliation.