Last Friday the New South Wales Court of Appeal handed down a decision that shone a light on inadequate medical care in the state’s overcrowded prison system and whether private prison operators are meeting their contractual obligations. The decision, Vero Insurance v GEO Group Australia, outlined how Shayne Mace, a prisoner at Parklea prison, received serious injuries, including brain injuries, in 2010 when he jumped off a landing at Parklea Correctional Centre. Although Mace’s claim for damages against the New South Wales government, GEO (the operator of Parklea prison) and Justice Heath (the NSW government prison health provider) settled, the issue determined in last week’s decision was the liability of insurer Vero.

Mace was charged with criminal offences in early 2010, refused bail and taken to the Silverwater jail and then Parklea. He was placed in protective custody. Under its contract with the NSW government, GEO was obligated to provide psychological and counselling services to inmates.