On July 1, 1999, a group of inmates confined at the District of Columbia Jail filed suit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, challenging their treatment and conditions of confinement. At the time the suit (Battle v. D.C.) was filed, the D.C. jail had been operating under numerous court orders issued in the case Campbell v. McGruder (JC-DC-0001) since 1975. A Special Officer had been appointed to monitor and oversee reform measures at the jail. Plaintiffs complained that the jail was in violation of the Campbell orders and sought monetary damages for their alleged constitutional violations.
Our case information is limited as there are no reported opinions and only certain pleadings are available from the PACER docket. The Battle case was consolidated with two other cases pending against the District of Columbia, Anderson-Bey v. D.C. (1:00-cv-02000-RCL) and Blango v. D.C. (1:99-cv-02179). These cases were later deconsolidated from Battle.
The docket reflects that on June 26, 2002, the District Court (Judge Royce C. Lamberth) certified the case as a class action. Notices were sent to potential class members and reports were filed regarding the progress in notification. Those reports were not available and it was otherwise unclear from the docket what transpired with regard to the class claims after certification.
On July 1, 2004, 13 of the named plaintiffs' claims were settled. The remaining 5 plaintiffs who did not settle agreed to waive any claim for attorneys' fees. In exchange, the District of Columbia stipulated that if a jury found that one of its employees caused or subjected a plaintiff to deprivation of a constitutional right, the District of Columbia would be liable for any such judgment. The remaining plaintiffs moved for partial summary judgment on October 27, 2004.
Settlement discussion ensued and the proceedings were stayed pending negotiations. Magistrate Judge Alan Kay mediated the case, but a settlement was not reached. As the defendants never responded to plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment, the District Court (Judge Royce C. Lamberth) granted the motion. Judge Lamberth denied defendants' motion to reconsider and issued pre-trial orders dated January 26 and 31, 2006 ordering that certain facts were deemed admitted at trial, including that plaintiffs were subjected to excessive force and unconstitutional conditions of confinement in the following categories: (1) poor sanitation (inoperable, backed-up, and unclean toilets or sinks; feces, urine, saliva, and other dirt and filth on floors, walls, bars, and other surfaces; insects including roaches, gnats, water bugs, centipedes, and fruit flies; lack of cleaning agents and cleaning tools); (2) personal cleanliness (cut-off water supply; inadequate supply of hot and/or cold water; dirty water; inoperable sinks; denial of access to showers; lack of personal hygiene items such as soap, toothbrushes, and toothpaste; lack of clean clothing, sheets and towels and no means to clean them); (3) eating utensils (requiring prisoners to use and re-use playing cards, scraps of Styrofoam, and their unwashed hands to eat); (4) heat (low temperature; insufficient clothing necessary for warmth; lack of blankets); (5) air (odors and contamination from chemical agents, smoke, feces, and urine); and (6) medical treatment (including denial of medical treatment)
After a two day jury trial beginning on January 31, 2006, the jury returned a verdict in favor of plaintiffs Shannon Battle for $13,000; Bernard Brown for $33,000; Eugene Scott for $37,000; Vonsauli Smith for $85,000; and Timothy Williams for $80,000.
We have no post-verdict information indicating further actions occurring in this case.Dan Dalton - 03/01/2008