The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit claiming Maricopa County officials have violated the rights of a quarantined tuberculosis patient for months by treating him like a criminal.
The U.S. District Court complaint filed Wednesday on behalf of Robert Daniels alleges that health officials and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office have violated numerous constitutional rights and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The suit seeks what it calls appropriate accommodations for Daniels, rather than severe and “inhumane” jail conditions.
“It’s good news for me,” Daniels said Wednesday evening. “I finally have a chance to get out of this black hole.”
Robert England, the county’s tuberculosis control officer, declined comment.
Daniels, 27, is under a court order and has been isolated in a jail ward at Maricopa Medical Center for 10 months, although he was not convicted or charged with any crime. Linda Cosme, an attorney for Daniels, said her client has been victimized by constitutional violations.
“Robert is helpless,” she said. “And he’s at the mercy of Sheriff Joe Arpaio. He needs as much support as possible, and the ACLU is supplying that support.”
Arpaio maintains Daniels must abide by security measures. “I run a safe jail, and he’s going to be treated like anyone else,” Arpaio said.
Daniels moved to Arizona in January 2006 after contracting extreme multi-drug-resistant TB. Daniels, who spent his teen years in Scottsdale, said he returned to the U.S. from Russia in search of work and a college education.
Months later, after he became severely ill, Daniels was placed in a county sanitarium for indigent TB patients.
Dr. Maricela Moffitt, a county physician, has testified that Daniels failed to take his medications and that decreased the likelihood that last-chance drugs would cure his deadly disease.
Moffitt claims Daniels endangered others by going out in public and entertaining visitors without wearing a mask.
Arpaio said his office is considering possible criminal charges against Daniels.
In his defense, Daniels has insisted that he did not understand the contagiousness or gravity of his condition.
“In his defense…” BS. This guy has been receiving medical advice and treatment for some time. Being committed to a treatment facility for “indigent TB patients” sounds to me like he’s getting all this for free…free TO HIM, of course, but not free to me. I raise the BS flag once more regarding the alleged “inhumane” conditions of the facility and may even go over and visit for myself, although I won’t be sharing a Mountain Dew with poor little “helpless Robert” if I get a chance to check it out.
By refusing to comply with measures that would minimize the risk of spreading this deadly disease, he has made his own bed. People who knowingly put the lives of others in danger just, it seems, for the hell of it or at least out of a blatant disregard for anyone else, should be subject to criminal charges. Good for Sherriff Joe. Shame on the ACLU.