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Case Name Montez v. Owens PC-CO-0014
Docket / Court 1:92-cv-00870 ( D. Colo. )
State/Territory Colorado
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Prison Conditions
Attorney Organization Legal Services/Legal Aid
Case Summary
This federal lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, in 1992, by six disabled prisoners who alleged that Colorado's prisons did not comply with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act, and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In 1996, the case became ... read more >
This federal lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, in 1992, by six disabled prisoners who alleged that Colorado's prisons did not comply with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act, and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In 1996, the case became certified as a class-action lawsuit on behalf of all disabled state prisoners.

In 2003, the state Department of Corrections agreed in a multimillion-dollar settlement known as the Remedial Plan to make changes by 2005. The court [Judge Edward Nottingham] approved this plan on August 27, 2003. The changes included making prisons handicapped-accessible, ending lower pay for so-called "handicapped" inmate jobs and ensuring that disabled inmates had access to sign language interpreters and Braille or large-print documents.

The Remedial Plan also included a mechanism for individual inmates to file claims seeking damages, or some other remedy available in court, that would be sent to a team of two Special Masters to adjudicate and determine damages based on an agreed upon class system. In 2004, the Special Masters requested that the court authorize at least two additional masters to accommodate the ever-increasing case load. Although both parties to the case recognized the need to have additional Special Masters, neither party could agree on who should be able to become Special Master. This disagreement stymied future progress in the case. Between 2004 and 2005 alone, over 1300 individuals submitted claims to the Special Masters.

The state did not meet the requirements of other elements of the Remedial Plan by 2005, so the deadline was extended to July 2007. By 2008, the Colorado prison system missed two court-ordered deadlines to improve facilities and services for disabled inmates, some of whom have gone without glasses, diabetes medication, wheelchairs or hearing aids for months or even years, according to court records.

To cause further disarray, in 2008, Judge Edward Nottingham resigned from his commission as United States District Judge for the district of Colorado. Judge Christine Arguello replaced Judge Edward Nottingham. Since 2008 the settlement has faced a myriad of conflicts between the parties of the case, resignations and replacements of special masters for the case settlement as individual claims continue to be sorted out.

One of the largest areas of dispute that has formed between the two parties of the case regards whether an inmate is able to seek appellate review of a decision made by a Special Master. This dispute arose after a claimant named Larry Gordon filed an individual claim for damages because, as a diabetic, his correctional facility forced him to wear a different color name tag than other inmates. The Special Masters denied Mr. Gordon's claim, stating that they did not have jurisdiction to address this issue. Mr. Gordon sought the ability to appeal this decision despite the fact that the consent decree specifically says that all decisions made by the Special Masters are final. This situation created a whirlwind of activity regarding the enforcement of the consent decree and eventually wound up in front of the Tenth Circuit. 307 Fed.Appx. 160 (2009).

After years of litigation, the Tenth Circuit ultimately held that even though the consent decree provided that the lower court's review would be final, an appeal could be made to the Tenth Circuit since the Court's jurisdiction is invoked by statute. Regardless, the Court affirmed the lower courts' decision to dismiss the officials' motion, and Mr. Gordon's claim for damages. 640 F.3d 1126 (2011).

The settlement is still ongoing.

Megan Richardson - 06/09/2014


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Content of Injunction
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Monitor/Master
Defendant-type
Corrections
Disability
Hearing impairment
Mobility impairment
Visual impairment
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Conditions of confinement
Disciplinary procedures
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Untreated pain
Vision care
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Colorado Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description The case was brought forth by inmates, former inmates and representatives of inmates who filed complaints against the Colorado Department of Corrections.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Legal Services/Legal Aid
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2003 - n/a
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
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)
1:96-cv-00343-EWN (D. Colo.) 10/27/2004
PC-CO-0014-9001.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
1:92-00870-EWN-OES (D. Colo.) 07/22/2013
PC-CO-0014-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Remedial Plan 08/27/2003
PC-CO-0014-0015.pdf | Detail
Final Order of Special Master 06/13/2005
PC-CO-0014-0003.pdf | Detail
Second Report and Recommendation of the Special Masters to the United States District Judge Edward W. Nottingham and Senior United States District Judge John L. Kane 06/30/2005
PC-CO-0014-0002.pdf | Detail
Plaintiff Class Response and Partial Objection to Second Report and Recommendation of Special Masters 08/16/2005
PC-CO-0014-0004.pdf | Detail
Plaintiff Class Notice to the Hon. John L. Kane of Defendants' Non-compliance of Remedial Plan 08/16/2005
PC-CO-0014-0005.pdf | Detail
Defendants' Reponse to Plaintiff Class Notice to the Hon. John L. Kane of Defendants' Non-Compliance of Remedial Plan 08/26/2005
PC-CO-0014-0006.pdf | Detail
Petition to Expand the Scope and Parameters of the Montez Remedical Plan and to Include ADA Standards for Individuals with Disabilities 12/21/2005
PC-CO-0014-0007.pdf | Detail
Recommended Award of Attorney Fees and Costs 12/29/2005
PC-CO-0014-0008.pdf | Detail
Third Report and Recommendation of the Special Masters to United States District Judge Edward W. Nottingham and Senior United States District Judge John L. Kane 02/07/2006
PC-CO-0014-0009.pdf | Detail
Document Source: District Court
Fourth Report and Recommendation of the Special Masters to the United States District Judge Edward W. Nottingham and Senior United States District Judge John L. Kane 02/14/2006
PC-CO-0014-0010.pdf | Detail
Document Source: District Court
Stipulation and Order Regarding Status of Compliance by Doc with Remedial Plan 07/10/2006 (D. Colo.)
PC-CO-0014-0011.pdf | Detail
Document Source: District Court
Motion Stipulation and Order Regarding Structural Compliance Montez Remedial Plan 07/25/2006 (D. Colo.)
PC-CO-0014-0012.pdf | Detail
Document Source: District Court
Amended Stipulation and Order Regarding Status of Compliance by Doc with Remedial Plan 08/29/2006 (D. Colo.)
PC-CO-0014-0013.pdf | Detail
Plaintiff Class Motion for Clarification on Standards Used to Determine Disability Status 09/06/2006
PC-CO-0014-0014.pdf | Detail
Final Order of Special Master 09/11/2006
PC-CO-0014-0017.pdf | Detail
Order 09/14/2006 (D. Colo.)
PC-CO-0014-0016.pdf | Detail
Order of Dismissal of Special Master 07/14/2007 (D. Colo.)
PC-CO-0014-0023.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Courtroom Minutes 09/14/2007
PC-CO-0014-0018.pdf | Detail
Order 09/18/2007 (D. Colo.)
PC-CO-0014-0019.pdf | Detail
Press Release 03/24/2008
PC-CO-0014-0001.pdf | Detail
Stipulation Regarding Status of Compliance by the Colorado Department of Corrections with the Montez Remedial Plan 04/04/2008
PC-CO-0014-0020.pdf | Detail
Order 05/07/2008 (2008 WL 1970004) (D. Colo.)
PC-CO-0014-0021.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting Special Masters' Twenty-Fifth Application For Payment of Fees and Costs 06/13/2008 (D. Colo.)
PC-CO-0014-0022.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 09/30/2008 (D. Colo.)
PC-CO-0014-0024.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting Special Masters' Twenty-Seventh Application for Payment of Fees and Costs 09/30/2008 (D. Colo.)
PC-CO-0014-0025.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Letter 11/14/2008
PC-CO-0014-0034.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Report and Recommendation of Special Masters 12/16/2008 (2008 WL 7690793)
PC-CO-0014-0035.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order and Judgment 01/09/2009 (307 Fed.Appx. 160)
PC-CO-0014-0041.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order of Dismissal of Special Master 03/05/2009 (D. Colo.)
PC-CO-0014-0026.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Formalizing 9/1/09 Bench Ruling Re Tenth Circuit Appeals from Special Masters Orders 09/29/2009 (D. Colo.)
PC-CO-0014-0027.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiff's Unopposed Motion for Extension of Time to Respond to Defendants' Motion in Limine to Exclude Evidence Relating to Medical Treatment 01/14/2010
PC-CO-0014-0036.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order re Report and Recommendation of Special Master and Related Filings 03/23/2010 (2010 WL 1258077) (D. Colo.)
PC-CO-0014-0028.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Motion to Notify the Court of CDOC's Continued Non-Compliance of the Montez Remedial Plan 04/27/2010
PC-CO-0014-0037.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Report and Recommendation of Special Master 10/22/2010
PC-CO-0014-0038.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order re Report and Recommendation of Special Master 01/19/2011 (D. Colo.)
PC-CO-0014-0029.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order and Judgment 05/10/2011 (640 F.3d 1126)
PC-CO-0014-0042.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Report and Recommendation of Special Master 07/01/2011
PC-CO-0014-0039.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Report and Recommendation of Special Master 08/05/2011 (2011 WL 11047632)
PC-CO-0014-0040.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 10/04/2011 (D. Colo.)
PC-CO-0014-0030.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law re Phase I of Class Action Settlement 09/11/2012
PC-CO-0014-0031.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting Special Master's Forty Sixth Application for Payment of Fees and Costs 01/23/2013 (D. Colo.)
PC-CO-0014-0032.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Adopting July 1, 2011 Report and Recommendation of the Special Master 07/03/2013 (2013 WL 3388734) (D. Colo.)
PC-CO-0014-0033.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Arguello, Christine M. (D. Colo.)
PC-CO-0014-0032 | PC-CO-0014-0033 | PC-CO-0014-9000
Ebel, David M. (Tenth Circuit)
PC-CO-0014-0041
Gorsuch, Neil M. (Tenth Circuit)
PC-CO-0014-0041
Henry, Robert Harlan (Tenth Circuit)
PC-CO-0014-0041
Kane, John L. Jr. (D. Colo.)
PC-CO-0014-0001 | PC-CO-0014-0013 | PC-CO-0014-0016 | PC-CO-0014-0019 | PC-CO-0014-0020 | PC-CO-0014-0021 | PC-CO-0014-0022 | PC-CO-0014-0024 | PC-CO-0014-0025 | PC-CO-0014-0027 | PC-CO-0014-0028 | PC-CO-0014-0029 | PC-CO-0014-0030 | PC-CO-0014-0031
Klane, John L Court not on record
PC-CO-0014-0011
McKay, Monroe G. (Tenth Circuit)
PC-CO-0014-0042
Nottingham, Edward Willis Jr. (D. Colo.)
PC-CO-0014-0008 | PC-CO-0014-0018 | PC-CO-0014-9000 | PC-CO-0014-9001
Monitors/Masters Barr, Robbie (Colorado)
PC-CO-0014-0008
Borchers, Richard M. (Colorado)
PC-CO-0014-0002 | PC-CO-0014-0003 | PC-CO-0014-0004 | PC-CO-0014-0009 | PC-CO-0014-0010 | PC-CO-0014-0023 | PC-CO-0014-0026 | PC-CO-0014-0038 | PC-CO-0014-0039 | PC-CO-0014-0040 | PC-CO-0014-9000
Davidson, Richard C. (Colorado)
PC-CO-0014-0009 | PC-CO-0014-0010 | PC-CO-0014-9000
Pringle, Bruce D (Colorado)
PC-CO-0014-0002 | PC-CO-0014-0009 | PC-CO-0014-0010 | PC-CO-0014-0017 | PC-CO-0014-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bellac, Patricia S. (Colorado)
PC-CO-0014-9000
Bulgier, Jimmy R. (Texas)
PC-CO-0014-9000
Carlson, John T. (Colorado)
PC-CO-0014-9000 | PC-CO-0014-9001
Carroll, Terrence David (Colorado)
PC-CO-0014-9000
Greisen, Paula Dee (Colorado)
PC-CO-0014-0001 | PC-CO-0014-0036 | PC-CO-0014-0037 | PC-CO-0014-9000
Greison, Paula (Colorado)
PC-CO-0014-0004 | PC-CO-0014-0005 | PC-CO-0014-0008 | PC-CO-0014-0011 | PC-CO-0014-0013 | PC-CO-0014-0014 | PC-CO-0014-0015 | PC-CO-0014-0020 | PC-CO-0014-9001
Lane, David A. (Colorado)
PC-CO-0014-9000
Marks, Lara Elizabeth (Colorado)
PC-CO-0014-0036 | PC-CO-0014-9000
Miller, David H. (Colorado)
PC-CO-0014-0004 | PC-CO-0014-0005 | PC-CO-0014-9000 | PC-CO-0014-9001
Myhre, Blair David (Colorado)
PC-CO-0014-0036 | PC-CO-0014-9000
Ramey, Edward T. (Colorado)
PC-CO-0014-0036 | PC-CO-0014-9000
Riddle, Jennifer Wardner (Colorado)
PC-CO-0014-0036 | PC-CO-0014-9000
Weiser, Jennifer R. (New Jersey)
PC-CO-0014-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Arnold, Willow Ivana (Colorado)
PC-CO-0014-0035 | PC-CO-0014-9000
Atkinson, John Aaron (Colorado)
PC-CO-0014-9000
Belsches, Grace A. (Colorado)
PC-CO-0014-9001
Berman, Jennifer Allison (Colorado)
PC-CO-0014-9000
Conroy, Deann Marie (Colorado)
PC-CO-0014-9000
Dance, Jess Alexander (Colorado)
PC-CO-0014-9000
Dash, Diane Marie (Colorado)
PC-CO-0014-9000
Fredericks, Jacquelynn Nicole Rich (Colorado)
PC-CO-0014-9000
Higgins, William J. (Colorado)
PC-CO-0014-9000
Huss, Jennifer Susan (Colorado)
PC-CO-0014-9000
Huss, Robert Charles (Colorado)
PC-CO-0014-9000
Ibrisagic, Berina (Colorado)
PC-CO-0014-9000
McCann, Elizabeth H. (Colorado)
PC-CO-0014-0013 | PC-CO-0014-0015 | PC-CO-0014-0020 | PC-CO-0014-9000
Meyer, Brooke H. (Colorado)
PC-CO-0014-9000
Miller, Steven M. (Colorado)
PC-CO-0014-9000
Quinn, James Xavier (Colorado)
PC-CO-0014-0006 | PC-CO-0014-0008 | PC-CO-0014-9000 | PC-CO-0014-9001
Randolph, Celia Florry (Colorado)
PC-CO-0014-9000
Suthers, John W. (Colorado)
PC-CO-0014-0006 | PC-CO-0014-0035
Veiga, Jennifer L. (Colorado)
PC-CO-0014-9000
Westfall, Richard A. (Colorado)
PC-CO-0014-9000
Wiens, Adam B. (Colorado)
PC-CO-0014-9000
Wilkonson, Scott Arthur (Colorado)
PC-CO-0014-9000
Other Lawyers Fraser, Joseph Jerome III (Colorado)
PC-CO-0014-9000
Garcia, Castelar M. (Colorado)
PC-CO-0014-9000
Hall, Eric V (Colorado)
PC-CO-0014-9000
Lyons, Thomas J (Colorado)
PC-CO-0014-9000
McCann, Beth (Colorado)
PC-CO-0014-0004 | PC-CO-0014-0006 | PC-CO-0014-0008 | PC-CO-0014-0011 | PC-CO-0014-0036
Moyer, H. Earl (Colorado)
PC-CO-0014-9000
Tondre, Brice A. (Colorado)
PC-CO-0014-9000

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