Judge allows ill inmate to sue California prison

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A federal judge has refused to dismiss most of a former prison inmate’s allegations that the government was negligent in exposing him to a potentially deadly disease while he was incarcerated in California.

U.S. District Judge Gary Feess’ written ruling, issued Thursday, could clear the way for a trial for Arjang Panah as early as next year, said his attorney, Ian Wallach. Officials with the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles did not immediately respond to email and phone messages left Saturday.

Panah was sentenced to prison in 2004 for dealing methamphetamine. He was originally incarcerated in New York but was transferred to the Taft Correctional Institution in California’s Central Valley in 2005. It was there that he contracted Coccidioidomycosis, or cocci, more commonly known as Valley Fever. The disease is caused by a fungus found in soil, particularly in the southwestern United States.

Wallach says the U.S. government was negligent in putting Panah in a prison where it knew the disease was rampant and not warning him.

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