Cajina said the lawsuit took time to file because many inmates were only in the jail for short periods. Some faced homelessness and mental health issues and were not in the best position to defend their rights, he added.
A separate class action lawsuit over the sewage was filed on behalf of seven inmates. Should a settlement be reached, it would include all inmates from both lawsuits.
In 2015, supervisors looked into spending $215 million to build a replacement jail due to seismic issues, but the plan was rejected.
In October 2019, Mayor London Breed announced a plan to shut down the jail and relocate its inmates by 2021. The order follows years of warnings that the structure could crumble in a major earthquake, though there is no set deadline for the move.
The city attorney’s and sheriff's office did not return phone calls and messages seeking comment on the tentative deal over the sewage problems. The Board of Supervisors and the federal court must still approve the final settlement, officials said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.