Inmates threatened if scabies outbreak discussed, lawsuit claims

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A federal lawsuit alleges inmates at a Nashville jail were threatened with solitary confinement if they discussed a scabies outbreak. 

The Tennessean reports the lawsuit was filed Friday against CoreCivic, a private prison company that operates the Metro-Davidson County Detention Facility. The lawsuit seeks class action status for female inmates.

Scabies is caused by a skin infestation of parasites. Hundreds of inmates at the prison have been treated. 

CBS affiliate WTVF-TV reports the outbreak originated in the women's facility and spread to the men's area. Two cases of scabies were found in the men's facility at the beginning of June. Both inmates were treated at the facility. 

The lawsuit says after inmates tried to tell relatives about the scabies outbreak over the phone, their phone privileges were revoked. 

CoreCivic spokesman Jonathan Burns says in a statement that the company does not comment on pending litigation.

Attorney Gary Blackburn filed the lawsuit. His wife, Davidson County General Sessions Judge Melissa Blackburn, has criticized CoreCivic's handling of the outbreak.