A proposed settlement for people in a Brooklyn, N.Y.,jail who had no electricity or heat for a week during a 2019 polar vortex could provide as much as $10 million in compensation. The agreement includes $17,500 each to 69 people whose medical conditions went untreated during the crisis and $8,750 each to 945 others, the New York Times reports. Many of the roughly1,600 people held at the Metropolitan Detention Center had described harrowing conditions during the outage, which followed a fire at the facility. Detainees, including some who were awaiting trial, said they spent the week shivering in dark cells with toilets that wouldn’t flush, along with no access to food, medical care and phone calls. As word spread following a report in the New York Times that week, protesters gathered outside the jail and elected officials demanded answers, but prison officials downplayed the situation.
Prisoners David Scott and Jeremy Cerda filed a lawsuit on behalf of all of the affected detainees. The suit accused the warden of “a shocking dereliction” of his duties to maintain the facility, which had been decaying for years. A subsequent report by the Justice Department’s inspector general strongly criticized how officials handled the crisis. Lawyers for the plaintiffs have asked the magistrate judge overseeing the case for an eight-month stay while they try to implement an agreement with prosecutors. The agreement says that the lawyers will have to contact the claimants and get a critical mass of them to accept the terms. The U.S. Attorney General or his designee and a judge would also have to approve it.