American Diabetes Association Joins Class Action Lawsuit Against CoreCivic, the Nation's Second-Largest Private Prison Management Firm


Michelle Kirkwood

Arlington, Virginia
March 6, 2018

Suit addresses inadequate, life-threatening health care of individuals with insulin-treated diabetes who are incarcerated at Trousdale Turner Correctional Center

In its continued commitment to improving the lives of all people living with and affected by diabetes, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) today announced that it is requesting to join a class action lawsuit, Civil Action No. 3:17-cv-00048, against CoreCivic, Inc., the second-largest private prison management company in the U.S., and the Tennessee Department of Correction. The class action lawsuit, originally filed January 12, 2017, in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, is on behalf of incarcerated individuals living with insulin-treated diabetes who are housed at Trousdale Turner Correctional Center (Trousdale). The suit outlines the severely inadequate health care at Trousdale for individuals with diabetes, which has led to levels of neglect that can legally be deemed cruel and unusual punishment, in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The suit also addresses Defendants’ violations of the incarcerated individuals’ rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The ADA and co-plaintiffs seek remedies to the policies and practices that have resulted in these hazardous, life-threatening conditions—for all past, current and future individuals with insulin-treated diabetes at Trousdale.

The ADA’s Legal Advocate Program was notified about the alarming conditions at Trousdale by a letter from an individual with insulin-treated diabetes who shared egregious examples of the lack of proper diabetes care at the facility. This individual also organized others with insulin-treated diabetes at Trousdale to inform ADA about their experiences and seek the ADA’s help. Together, the plaintiffs document circumstances at Trousdale that include health care staff with little to no training; minimal health care such that blood glucose monitoring and insulin administration are not coordinated with mealtimes, delayed or not performed at all; and either inadequate or no access to insulin.  

Trousdale, located in Hartsville, Tennessee, is a medium-security prison that can house up to 2,552 men, of whom at least 60 individuals currently have insulin-treated diabetes. Trousdale is the largest and newest prison facility in the state of Tennessee and has been featured in recent media reports for lacking in both adequate staff and proper training. 

“Diabetes is a serious, chronic illness that requires diligent, 24/7 management and care to avoid expensive and deadly complications,” said the ADA’s Chief Scientific, Medical and Mission Officer William T. Cefalu, MD. “For individuals with insulin-treated diabetes, continuous daily management is that much more critical, requiring close blood glucose monitoring and mealtime insulin injections throughout the day in order to maintain appropriate blood glucose levels. The grave lack of diabetes care that individuals at Trousdale Turner Correctional Center have documented indicates inhumane and unsafe health conditions. As the ADA has addressed in its annual Standards of Care since 1989, the ADA believes all individuals living with diabetes, regardless of their circumstances and including those in correctional facilities, should have access to diabetes care, tools, and medications that meet national standards.”

By joining this lawsuit as a plaintiff and bringing this issue to the forefront, the ADA seeks to improve the treatment of all incarcerated individuals living with diabetes. If the court rules in favor of the ADA and fellow plaintiffs, the decision will help to establish a national standard of care in the 66 prisons run by CoreCivic, as well as all correctional facilities across the country.

“Just as children depend on adults to assist with their diabetes care, individuals who are incarcerated are at the mercy of prison staff to provide them with access to the health care tools, medications, and reasonable accommodations necessary to manage their diabetes,” said Sarah Fech-Baughman, Director of Litigation for the ADA. “These individuals do not have access to appropriate medical care and have been subjected to discrimination on the basis of their diabetes. The ADA challenges both of these issues on behalf of this vulnerable population.”

The ADA’s Legal Advocacy Program is committed to providing assistance for people living with diabetes who experience discrimination. Each year, Legal Advocacy staff provide information and assistance to nearly 2,000 Americans with diabetes. The ADA’s legal advocacy efforts are spearheaded by the Legal Advocacy Subcommittee, a group of lawyers and health care professionals with expertise in the various substantive areas in which the ADA focuses its anti-discrimination efforts.

For more information about the lawsuit, visit

About the American Diabetes Association

Nearly half of American adults have diabetes or prediabetes; more than 30 million adults and children have diabetes; and every 21 seconds, another individual is diagnosed with diabetes in the U.S. Founded in 1940, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) is the nation’s leading voluntary health organization whose mission is to prevent and cure diabetes, and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes. The ADA drives discovery by funding research to treat, manage and prevent all types of diabetes, as well as to search for cures; raises voice to the urgency of the diabetes epidemic; and works to safeguard policies and programs that protect people with diabetes. In addition, the ADA supports people living with diabetes, those at risk of developing diabetes, and the health care professionals who serve them through information and programs that can improve health outcomes and quality of life. For more information, please call the ADA at 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2383) or visit Information from both of these sources is available in English and Spanish. Find us on Facebook (American Diabetes Association), Twitter (@AmDiabetesAssn) and Instagram (@AmDiabetesAssn)