On May 29, 2008, three prisoners with mobility impairments housed in Los Angeles County jail facilities filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The plaintiffs sued the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. They challenged alleged discrimination against people with disabilities in the Los Angeles County jail system. Represented by private counsel, the Disability Rights Legal Center, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, the plaintiffs asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief as well as attorney's fees, on the grounds that the County of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department did not provide an acceptable level of access, services, or accommodations to inmates with disabilities.
The plaintiffs specifically claimed that while being processed there were no accessible bathroom facilities, and that once they were housed in the jail they were denied physical therapy and outdoor exercise, along with not being allowed to participate in most jail programs. They alleged as well that the jails failed to provide access features in bathrooms such as grab bars in the showers or toilets. Wheelchairs were rarely provided for disabled inmates and, if they were provided, were in a state of disrepair. Finally, the plaintiffs alleged that prisoners' required medications were given inconsistently.
On June 9, 2008, the plaintiffs moved to certify the class and for a preliminary injunction. On August 13, 2008, the parties agreed to stay the proceedings and enter into settlement negotiations. On December 12, 2008, due to the lack of response from the defendants, the plaintiffs filed a request for lift of stay. On June 8, 2009, the court ordered that the stipulated stay would automatically expire on July 9, 2009.
On June 10, 2010, the plaintiffs filed their first amended complaint. On November 12, 2010, the plaintiffs refiled their motion for class certification.
On May 5, 2011, the plaintiffs requested a temporary restraining order enjoining the defendants from disciplining class members for their failure or inability to get out of their wheelchairs. On May 12, 2011, Judge Pregerson denied the plaintiffs' application for a temporary restraining order. 2011 WL 1812746 (C.D. Cal. May 12, 2011).
On October 15, 2012, Judge Pregerson granted class certification via an in chambers order.
The parties entered into settlement negotiations, and on October 31, 2014, settled the case. The defendants agreed to an enforceable injunction, under which they would provide: access to all programming despite mobility disabilities, physical therapy and outdoor recreation, physical accessibility to the jail, working wheelchairs and prostheses, ADA coordinators on staff, a new grievance form, and reasonable accommodations when requested.
The Agreement provided that it would remain in effect for three years "after which time its provisions will automatically terminate unless the Court determines that, based on applicable law and specific findings of fact, that it is necessary to extend the duration of this Agreement." Monitoring was set to be performed by the Los Angeles Office of the Inspector General. The agreement is court-enforceable, but there are no stipulations relating the underlying facts.
On November 24, 2014, Judge Dean Pregerson preliminarily approved the class settlement. On March 24, 2015, Judge Pregerson granted the plaintiffs' motion for $2,200,000 in attorney's fees and granted final approval of the class settlement. On June 8, 2015, Judge Pregerson dismissed the case, but retained jurisdiction to enforce the settlement if necessary. Xin Chen - 04/19/2012
Jessica Kincaid - 10/25/2015