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By Lisa Loving | The Skanner News
Published: 16 December 2009

In the wake of a required 60-day background investigation by local officials, the racial discrimination tort claim by three law enforcement employees against Clark County Corrections has expanded into a full-on lawsuit seeking millions in damages.

The lawsuit, detailing more than a dozen instances of racist harassment that allegedly took place throughout the past 20 years, has been brought against the county by former Clark County Sheriffs Department Commander Clifford B. Evelyn, 58; former corrections officer Britt Easterly, 39, now with the U.S. Secret Service in Washington D.C.; and Elzy P. Edwards, 46, an unsuccessful applicant for Clark County Corrections who is now working with the Washington Department of Corrections.

Evelyn is seeking $1 million, while Easterly and Edwards are asking $500,000 each in damages.

A 20-year veteran of the corrections department who had recently been honored for his efforts to promote diversity in its ranks, Evelyn was fired in June after an Internal Affairs investigation found he had violated general orders regarding "harassment," "courtesy" and "competency."

In the joint lawsuit against Clark County, Edwards, who unsuccessfully applied for a job at Clark County Corrections, alleges that the hiring process was unfair; Easterly, as well as Evelyn, allege they were subjected to a long-standing atmosphere of racist incidents and comments.

Evelyn also alleges unfair treatment at the hands of Clark County Corrections Chief Jail Deputy Sheriff Jackie Batties, as well as management and staff of Wexford Health Solutions, the company contracted to provide health care services at the jail.

Documents obtained by The Skanner News show that a former Wexford employee, who has since been convicted of stealing cash from a co-worker's purse, filed a complaint against Evelyn this year that kicked off a chain of events resulting in his firing.

Evelyn had for the past two years reported on Wexford Health Sources' failure to meet the terms of their operations contract, including submitting a detailed report in writing delivered to his supervisors at Clark County more than a year before the county's own performance audit confirmed his allegations.

Elsewhere around the nation, in July of this year million-dollar lawsuits were filed against Wexford corporation and New Mexico state corrections officials by incarcerated men and women alleging similar problems – even deaths -- at Wexford-managed health programs in the state's prison system.

Also in New Mexico, a Black dentist won a racial discrimination case against Wexford in November of 2008 when the company was found guilty by a federal jury of paying him a smaller wage on the basis of his race.

Clark County contracted with Pennsylvania-based Wexford Health Solutions in 2006 after problems cropped up with their former jailhouse health care provider, Prison Health Services.

Clark County officials signed a three-year, $9 million contract with Wexford set to expire in 2010. Its May, 2009 report, prepared by the Institute for Law and Policy Planning, was intended as a performance audit.

Several documents obtained by The Skanner News show that reports Evelyn had filed with superiors in 2008 about Wexford's failure to meet the demands of its contract were validated by Clark County's performance audit.

In a series of memos to his superiors dated before the release of Clark County's own report on Wexford's performance this past June, Evelyn had outlined specific examples of the corporation's failure to follow the terms of its contract with Clark County, from lack of a written operations manual to untrained staff, lack of medical supplies onsite and a tendency to "short" the jails' medical services that forced Clark County to pay out more in resources to cover the gaps.

The chief finding of Clark County's own investigation into Wexford was that "the company has systematically failed to comply with the many complex undertakings included in its contract with the county."

Evelyn, Easterly and Edwards were unavailable for comment at press time. Clark County officials are declining media requests while the legal case is pending.

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