Inmate medical care giant Corizon Health on Monday released records of 62 civil case settlement agreements it made with New Mexico prisoners, following its loss of a yearslong court battle in which it had fought to keep such records confidential.
The records reflect only a portion of the company’s settlements with prisoners who sued the company over its medical services between 2007 and 2016, when it held a contract to provide care in the state’s 11 prisons.
The company is still holding 35 other settlement agreements, according to attorney Daniel Yohalem, who sued Corizon on behalf of the Santa Fe New Mexican, the Albuquerque Journal and the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government after the company refused to release the agreements in response to a public records request.
Yohalem said there is ongoing debate over what identifying information will be redacted from the remaining settlements before they are released.
Corizon, the largest provider of inmate health care in the nation, held a $37.5 million annual contract with the state to treat prison inmates. The company faced more than 150 lawsuits filed by some 200 inmates in the nine years it held the contract.
The New Mexican filed a request for the settlements in June 2015 with the New Mexico Corrections Department. But the company refused to turn over the agreements, saying its contract with the state gave it the right to control litigation and keep settlements secret.
The newspapers and the transparency group had sued Corizon over its refusal to release the settlements, contending the company and the Corrections Department couldn’t dodge New Mexico’s Inspection of Public Records Act through contract provisions.
State District Judge Raymond Ortiz ruled in favor of transparency in 2016. He said the records were public and must be released. The company appealed the ruling to the New Mexico Court of Appeals, which affirmed it in September.
The state Supreme Court declined to review the ruling late last year, resulting in the recent release of the records.