One of the first claims for a coronavirus-related death of a resident at San Quentin State Prison was filed by the victim’s family in September, a Government Claim form shows.
Daniel Ruiz, 61, was arrested in September 2019 for a non-violent parole violation, records show. He transferred to San Quentin on January 20, 2020. In March, Ruiz received “an early release notice for good behavior,” reportedly for him being a non-violent parole violator. He was approved for release in April.
“By May 30, 2020, Daniel Ruiz had not been released from San Quentin, despite the COVID-19 emergency, despite his high-risk factors, and despite his eligibility for early release,” documents filed by his family’s attorney state.
At the end of May, San Quentin had no known cases of residents infected with COVID-19. It was at that time the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) approved the transfer of 121 incarcerated people from California Institution for Men (CIM) in Chino, California to San Quentin.
The CIM facility had the worst outbreak of coronavirus before the transfer occurred, according to CDCR records. More than 600 incarcerated people were infected at the facility, and nine had died from the virus.
Ruiz eventually became ill with COVID-19, and in late June he was admitted to St. Francis Memorial Hospital in San Francisco, the Claim form states.
“Medical personnel treating Daniel Ruiz for COVID-19-related illness were prohibited from informing his family that he was there, or gravely ill, or dying from COVID-19,” the Claim states.
Not until Ruiz was in the hospital on a respirator, with less than a 10% chance of surviving was his family notified, records show. At least two family members eventually were allowed to visit him “in his hospital room briefly,” before he died on July 11, 2020.
“Claimants’ decedent, Daniel Ruiz, was wrongfully and unconstitutionally killed, sustaining a loss of life, conscious pain and suffering, and medical, funeral and burial expenses,” the Claim states.
The Claim also states Ruiz’s family suffered “pain,” “emotional distress,” “economic” and “non-economic damages.” The family is seeking to recover all costs, fees and penalties allowed under the law.