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Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Riker v. Gibbons PC-NV-0015
Docket / Court 3:08-cv-00115-ECR-VPC ( D. Nev. )
State/Territory Nevada
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU National Prison Project
Case Summary
On March 6, 2008, prisoners confined in Ely State Prison ("ESP") filed a civil rights class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the state of Nevada. The plaintiffs, represented by the National Prison Project of the ACLU, the ACLU of ... read more >
On March 6, 2008, prisoners confined in Ely State Prison ("ESP") filed a civil rights class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the state of Nevada. The plaintiffs, represented by the National Prison Project of the ACLU, the ACLU of Nevada, and private counsel, alleged that the state provided inadequate medical care to prisoners at ESP. Plaintiffs claimed that a pervasive pattern of grossly inadequate medical care at ESP created a substantial risk of serious medical harm for each of the prison's 1,000 prisoners, in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. Specifically, they alleged that ESP lacked ready access to medical care, a medical staff competent to examine prisoners and diagnose illnesses, adequate and up-to-date medical record-keeping, and adequate procedures for responding to emergencies. As a result, plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief, compensatory and punitive damages, and class certification.

Prior to filing suit, the National Prison Project retained Dr. William Noel to investigate the alleged deficiencies of medical care at ESP. Dr. Noel reviewed the medical records of 35 prisoners and was allowed to speak to some of the prisoners when he visited ESP to discuss his findings with the prison Medical Director. Dr. Noel issued a detailed report in which he called the pattern of medical abuse at ESP "the grossest possible medical malpractice, and the most shocking and callous disregard for human life and human suffering, that I have ever encountered in the medical profession in my thirty-five years of practice." In early December 2007, the ACLU sent the report to the Governor of Nevada and the Director of Nevada's Department of Corrections. The ACLU also proposed a Consent Decree to avoid litigation and to improve the health care administered to prisoners at ESP. Prison officials refused to enter into the Consent Decree and this lawsuit followed.

On March 31, 2009, Judge Larry R. Hicks granted the plaintiffs' motion to certify a class. 2009 WL 910971. The class was defined as "all prisons who are now, or in the future will be, in the custody of the Nevada Department of Corrections at Ely State Prison in Ely, Nevada." Settlement discussions began in January 2010 before Magistrate Judge Valerie P. Cooke and the parties jointly moved to approve the proposed settlement agreement on July 15, 2010. The parties also submitted a proposed Class Notice of Settlement, which the court approved on July 28, 2010.

The proposed settlement was extensive, addressing medications, chronic care, sick call, intra-system transfers and assessments, and scheduled off-site services and infirmary care. The agreement called for a two-year appointment of an expert medical monitor to inspect ESP three months after the agreement was finalized and every six months thereafter to evaluate defendants' compliance with the terms of the agreement. Judge Hicks approved the proposed settlement on October 27, 2010. 2010 WL 4366012. The plaintiffs' motion for attorney's fees and costs was also granted and the action was dismissed with prejudice.

Kristen Sagar - 04/06/2009
Christina Bonanni - 11/18/2013
Nate West - 10/16/2014


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Male
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process
Content of Injunction
Monitor/Master
Monitoring
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Conditions of confinement
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Nevada Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description Prisoners detained at the Ely State Prison in Nevada who were provided inadequate medical care.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU National Prison Project
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2010 - n/a
Case Closing Year 2010
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Civil Rights Injunctions Over Time: A Case Study of Jail and Prison Court Orders
N.Y.U. Law Review
By: Margo Schlanger (Washington University)
Citation: 81 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 550 (2006)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

  Judicial Policy Making and the Modern State: How the Courts Reformed America's Prisons
By: Malcolm M. Feeley & Edward Rubin (UC Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law & Vanderbilt School of Law Faculty)
Citation: (1998)
[ Detail ]

Docket(s)
3:08-cv-00115-ECR-VPC (D. Nev.) 02/22/2013
PC-NV-0015-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Report Prepared for the National Prison Project of the ACLU: Review of Medical Records from Ely State Prison
PC-NV-0015-0002.pdf | Detail
Consent Decree
PC-NV-0015-0005.pdf | Detail
Letter to Nevada Governor 12/06/2005
PC-NV-0015-0004.pdf | Detail
Letter Accompanying Dr. Noel's Report 12/05/2007
PC-NV-0015-0003.pdf | Detail
Report by Medical Expert Details a Pattern of "Shocking Disregard for Human Life" 12/06/2007
PC-NV-0015-0006.pdf | Detail
Citing Horrific Medical Care Problems at Ely State Prison, Group Seeks Court Decree Requiring Vast Health Care Improvements 01/07/2008
PC-NV-0015-0007.pdf | Detail
Document Source: ACLU National Prison Project
Class Action Complaint 03/06/2008
PC-NV-0015-0001.pdf | Detail
Prisoners At Risk Of Pain, Injury And Premature Death 03/06/2008
PC-NV-0015-0008.pdf | Detail
Document Source: ACLU National Prison Project
Amended Complaint 04/16/2008
PC-NV-0015-0013.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Answer to Class Action Complaint and Demand for Jury Trial 05/15/2008
PC-NV-0015-0009.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 03/31/2009 (2009 WL 910971) (D. Nev.)
PC-NV-0015-0010.pdf | WESTLAW | External Link | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Proposed Settlement Agreement 07/28/2010
PC-NV-0015-0012.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 10/27/2010 (2010 WL 4366012) (D. Nev.)
PC-NV-0015-0011.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Cooke, Valerie P. (D. Nev.) [Magistrate]
PC-NV-0015-9000
Hicks, Larry R. (D. Nev.)
PC-NV-0015-0010 | PC-NV-0015-0011 | PC-NV-0015-0012
Monitors/Masters Noel, William K. (Nevada)
PC-NV-0015-0002 | PC-NV-0015-0003 | PC-NV-0015-0004 | PC-NV-0015-0006 | PC-NV-0015-0007 | PC-NV-0015-0008
Plaintiff's Lawyers Fettig, Amy (District of Columbia)
PC-NV-0015-0001 | PC-NV-0015-0003 | PC-NV-0015-0004 | PC-NV-0015-0008 | PC-NV-0015-0009 | PC-NV-0015-0010 | PC-NV-0015-0013 | PC-NV-0015-9000
Hanlon, Stephen F (District of Columbia)
PC-NV-0015-0001 | PC-NV-0015-0009 | PC-NV-0015-0010 | PC-NV-0015-0013 | PC-NV-0015-9000
Lichtenstein, Allen (Nevada)
PC-NV-0015-0001 | PC-NV-0015-0009 | PC-NV-0015-0010 | PC-NV-0015-0013 | PC-NV-0015-9000
McLetchie, Maggie (Nevada)
PC-NV-0015-0003 | PC-NV-0015-0004 | PC-NV-0015-0010 | PC-NV-0015-9000
Rowland, Lee B. (Nevada)
PC-NV-0015-0001 | PC-NV-0015-0003 | PC-NV-0015-0004 | PC-NV-0015-0006 | PC-NV-0015-0007 | PC-NV-0015-0008 | PC-NV-0015-0009 | PC-NV-0015-0010 | PC-NV-0015-0013 | PC-NV-0015-9000
Winter, Margaret (District of Columbia)
PC-NV-0015-0001 | PC-NV-0015-0003 | PC-NV-0015-0004 | PC-NV-0015-0009 | PC-NV-0015-0010 | PC-NV-0015-0013 | PC-NV-0015-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Bannister, Robert (Nevada)
PC-NV-0015-0009
Geddes, William J (Nevada)
PC-NV-0015-9000
Leslie, Clark G (Nevada)
PC-NV-0015-0010 | PC-NV-0015-9000
Martin, Michon A (Nevada)
PC-NV-0015-9000
Masto, Catherine Cortez (Nevada)
PC-NV-0015-0009
McDaniel, E K (Nevada)
PC-NV-0015-0009
Miller, Ross (Nevada)
PC-NV-0015-0009
Quinn, Stephen D (Nevada)
PC-NV-0015-0010 | PC-NV-0015-9000
Skolnik, Howard (Nevada)
PC-NV-0015-0009
Traut, Janet E. (Nevada)
PC-NV-0015-0009 | PC-NV-0015-0010 | PC-NV-0015-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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