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Settlement in Suit Over Denied HIV Treatment

(CN) - Kern County and the U.S. government have settled claims over their failure to treat HIV-positive immigrant detainees, an alleged cost-cutting measure that proved fatal.

The 2009 complaint claimed that more than 90 people have died in immigration jails since 2003 and poor or nonexistent medical care "contributed to 30 of those deaths."

Dora Baires said her son, Juan Carlos, was one such casualty while being held for 54 days at the Lerdo Jail in Kern County.

"His only offense was that he was an undocumented alien," the complaint stated.

Denied necessary medications, Carlos developed a foot infection and was given only Motrin for the infection, according to the complaint.

The lawsuit quoted a letter Carlos wrote to his girlfriend about his suffering.

"The pain makes me cry like a little boy," he wrote. "I am writing the letter little by little because the pain will not let me do anything. I don't even have an appetite because of it. The only thing I do is cry. I cry as I have never cried before."

Carlos also described the prison doctor's conclusion that the infection was "from the other disease that I have, that one you know, and because they are not giving me the treatment."

The lawsuit also included claims from another undocumented alien, Teofilo Miranda, who claimed to have also been denied HIV medication.

U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer has presided over several iterations of the action, most recently clearing Kern County of negligence claims.

The judge, a brother to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Charles Breyer, nevertheless refused the federal government's motion for judgment on the pleadings.

He dismissed the case Monday in light of a settlement between the parties.

Details on the deal were not immediately available.

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