Ex-inmate settles solitary confinement lawsuit for $750,000

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A Tennessee man has reached a $750,000 settlement with a New Mexico county after he said he was denied medication and left neglected in a filthy cell while held in solitary confinement.

Michael Faziani's lawsuit filed earlier this year in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque said he suffered from bipolar disorder and had chronic back pain but was denied his medication at the Sierra County Detention Center.

The lawsuit also alleged a culture of corruption at the jail, with some guards accused of withholding inmates' medication and paying inmates with pills or tobacco to clean the cells of mentally ill inmates.

"Mr. Faziani was held in solitary confinement for approximately 18 days in conditions that were inhumane," said Matthew Coyte, Faziani's attorney, in a written statement. "Mr. Faziani was one of many victims of this corrupt facility."

Phone calls seeking comment from the county and detention center administrators were not immediately returned. The jail was temporarily closed last year.

Coyte filed a motion Tuesday for the case to be dismissed after he said the two parties reached the settlement.

Online court records show Faziani faced charges of driving under the influence and a traffic violation that both were dismissed.

According to Faziani's lawsuit, he had moved temporarily to Truth of Consequences, a town about 75 miles north of Las Cruces, in 2012 to take advantage of the hot springs there for his chronic back pain.

In June 2012, he was arrested for failing to report an accident at a McDonald's drive thru where his lawsuit says he scraped the side of his car on a metal post. A week later, he was involved in a more serious rollover crash.

When he was taken into custody, Faziani told jail guards he suffered from bipolar disorder, he said. He was placed in solitary confinement, which his lawsuit said the jail used often for inmates with mental health issues despite findings that have shown solitary confinement is "particularly toxic" for them.

According to the lawsuit, Faziani was confined to his cell 24 hours per day, and he begged for a shower and toothbrush before losing the ability to keep up his personal hygiene. His cell deteriorated into squalid conditions. After he was released, he had to be treated for severe depression at a hospital and now suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, the lawsuit said.

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