Lawsuit accuses SLO County Jail staff of mistreating disabled inmate

April 15, 2024

Rick Holliday


A 64-year-old disabled inmate won the first battle in a lawsuit alleging he was neglected and mistreated while incarcerated in the San Luis Obispo County Jail.

Rick Holliday spent nine days in jail in 2023 for failure to appear on a resisting arrest charge. During the hearing, he was in a hospital because of issues with his hip following an accident.

Even so, the judge issued a warrant for Holliday’s arrest.

After learning of the warrant, Holliday showed up for a reset hearing where he was arrested. And even though he was in a wheelchair, deputies said he could not bring his chair into the jail, and instead would need to use a replacement wheelchair.

For the next 15 hours, jail staff confined Holliday in an intake cell without a wheelchair and only a concrete bench to sit on. Staffers then transported Holliday to a non-disabled cell in a urine-soaked wheelchair.

“The wheelchair the jail used for this was not clean and covered in another person’s urine,” according to the lawsuit. “Despite this, plaintiff was made to sit in it and was not allowed to rinse off or clean himself after using it. Plaintiff was then placed in a very dirty and unhealthy “solitary confinement” cell which was not ADA compliant.”

In addition, Holliday was taking medicine related to his injury and asthma, which jail staff said he could not bring into the jail. For three days, jail medical staff failed to provide Holliday his medications or asthma inhaler, according to the lawsuit.

For years, the SLO County Jail had been dogged with allegations of civil rights abuses against inmates and of failures to follow state and federal rules and regulations.

In Jan. 2017, the county violated multiple rules and regulations in the treatment of Andrew Holland, a mentally ill man who died after being strapped in a restraint chair for two days in the SLO County Jail.

More than a year after the FBI mounted a criminal investigation into alleged civil rights abuses of inmates at the jail following Holland’s death, in 2018, the Department of Justice opened an investigation into how the sheriff’s department is complying with federal laws.

On June 23, 2021, SLO County agreed to pay a former inmate $175,000 and to correct violations of the American’s with Disabilities Act that led the inmate to suffer a broken leg, according to an agreement between the United States and SLO County. Instead of allowing the inmate a disabled shower or the use of a prosthetic, the inmate was told to hop to the shower, causing him to slip and crush the remaining portion of his leg.

According to the agreement, the county was required to provide a litany of items for 24 months including, ADA compliant housing, self-propelled wheelchairs and the ability to participate in activities at the jail. Failure to comply to the agreement leaves the county open to a federal takeover of the jail along with fines and other penalties.

Holliday was incarcerated at the jail for nine days during the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) agreement period. Holliday’s attorney Saro Rizzo included two exhibits with the lawsuit: a summary of the DOJ investigation into conditions at the jail and a copy of the subsequent agreement.

The county then filed a motion to strike the exhibits, which San Luis Obispo Superior Court Judge Tana Coates denied.

“The DOJ letter and settlement are allegations of the essential elements of defendants’ deliberate indifference,” according to Coates’ tentative ruling. “As explained above, plaintiff must allege more than mere negligence; he must allege facts showing defendants knew about, but were indifferent to, the inhumane conditions and lack of medical care.”


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Like everyone points out, this dude is a known scammer and jailbird, so take everything he says with a grain of salt.

The one thing we can say about SLOSD is they’re consistent.

I do not have first hand knowledge if what Mr.Holliday is alleging is true or not but it appears the SLO County Jail has again treated an inmate inhumanely and violated his basic civil rights. And yes, inmates do have basic civil rights even though they may have violated the rights of others thus why they are incarcerated. I do understand there is a fine line for jail staff but these employees need to be trained and supervised so these situations (resulting in the county paying thousands of dollars to settle lawsuits) do not occur,

This guy’s been around for a while and has been known to be a scammer, so not sure I believe anything he says

More of Ian Parkinson’s leadership skills.

looks like government employees have just pissed away even more taxpayer money. How about some firings for a change?