University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Nunez and United States v. City of New York JC-NY-0055
Docket / Court 1:11-cv-05845-LTS -THK ( S.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Attorney Organization Legal Services/Legal Aid
Case Summary
On August 18th, 2011, a class of prisoners filed this lawsuit in the District Court for the Southern District of New York under 42 U.S.C. 1983 for cruel and unusual punishment against the New York City Department of Corrections. The plaintiffs, represented by the Legal Aid Society and pro bono ... read more >
On August 18th, 2011, a class of prisoners filed this lawsuit in the District Court for the Southern District of New York under 42 U.S.C. 1983 for cruel and unusual punishment against the New York City Department of Corrections. The plaintiffs, represented by the Legal Aid Society and pro bono private counsel, asked the court for declaratory relief, injunctive relief, and damages, claiming that the Department's officers routinely inflict wanton physical violence on prisoners and deliberately falsify records to prevent discovery of their illegal actions.

Claims against the New York City Department of Corrections (DOC) have been numerous and often successful over the past twenty-five years (Fisher v. Koehler, Reynolds v. Ward, Jackson v. Montemango, Sheppard v. Phoenix, Ingles v. Toro). The plaintiffs claimed that former policies were reinstituted as soon as the injunctions expired, or that the injunctions were interpreted narrowly enough to provide room for explicit cruelty. The plaintiffs claimed that officers frequently took prisoners to areas without video cameras or other witnesses, and then beat them. The plaintiffs claimed to have suffered multiple injuries as a result of these abuses, including broken bones, concussions, and other emergency conditions requiring hospitalization and surgery. Finally, the plaintiffs claimed that the defendants routinely falsified documents or fabricated disciplinary charges to cover up their own unlawful conduct or that of their colleagues. The city then would promote the worst offenders.

On January 7th, 2013, the Court (Magistrate Judge James C. Francis IV) granted class certification to the plaintiffs.

Meanwhile, on January 12, 2012, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York informed the city that they were undertaking an investigation of the prison conditions on Rikers Island under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act. The DOJ issued a findings letter in that matter, reporting the frequent use of excessive force, inadequate systematic supervision, and prolonged punitive solitary confinement on August 4, 2014. That is discussed in case JC-NY-0062 in this Clearinghouse.

On December 18, 2014, the Department of Justice filed a motion seeking permission to intervene in this case, to pursue its action under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act. The Court (Magistrate Judge James C. Francis IV) granted the unopposed motion to intervene on December 23, 2014. Settlement negotiations were immediately initiated.

On July 1, 2015, the plaintiffs filed a motion to approve of the consent settlement. The DOJ issued a statement on their website the same day. The consent settlement included provisions completely prohibiting certain types of force. The DOC also agreed to report all incidents where the staff used force on a prisoner. All Use of Force incidents resulting in major injuries to the prisoner will have a mandatory video recorded interview of the injured prisoner and other witnesses, and be referred to for an investigation by the Investigation Division of the DOC. The DOC agreed to install 7,800 wall-mounted cameras and at least 100 body-worn or hand held cameras to facilitate the investigations. Staff that violate the use of force guidelines will be disciplined, up to termination. Staff cannot be promoted if they have a poor disciplinary use of force record or a pending disciplinary investigation.

The DOC agreed to no longer put prisoners under 18 in any punitive isolation. Prisons housing youth are required to have certain staffing levels and routine examination of the premises to ensure security and safety of the prisoners. The DOC also agreed to begin searching for an alternative location, off Rikers Island, for prisoners under 18.

Finally, the parties agreed to a monitor, who will visit the prisons and write a progress report every four months.

On October 21, 2015, the Court (Judge Laura Taylor Swain) approved the consent judgment.

Kya Henley - 04/07/2014
Kathryn DeLong - 09/24/2014
Kathryn DeLong - 10/27/2015


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Equal Protection
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Assault/abuse by staff
Conditions of confinement
Disciplinary procedures
Excessive force
Grievance Procedures
Restraints : chemical
Unconstitutional conditions of confinement
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
42 U.S.C. § 1981
Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997 et seq.
Defendant(s) New York City Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description Class of prisoners in New York City jails
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Legal Services/Legal Aid
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 2015 - 2018
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
Case Listing JC-NY-0062 : CRIPA investigation of NYC Department of Correction Jails on Rikers Island (No Court)
Additional Resources
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Case Studies After Decision: Implementation of Judicial Decrees in Correctional Settings
Written: Oct. 01, 1977
By: M. Kay Harris & Dudley P. Spiller (Temple University)
Citation: (1977)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ]

  An Analysis of CRIPA Findings Letters Issued to Jails for Constitutional Violations by the Department of Justice
Written: Apr. 15, 2016
By: Jeff Mellow, Bryce E. Peterson & Mijin Kim (John Jay College of Criminal Justice)
Citation: Am. J. Crim. Just. (April 2016)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
1:11-cv-05845-LTS-JCF (S.D.N.Y.) 10/02/2015
JC-NY-0055-9001.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint 08/18/2011
JC-NY-0055-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amended Complaint 05/24/2012
JC-NY-0055-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
Second Amended Complaint [Jury Trial Demanded] 08/30/2012
JC-NY-0055-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Stipulation and Order [Granting Class Certification] 01/07/2013 (S.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0055-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum and Order [Scope of Discovery] 05/17/2013 (2013 WL 2149869) (S.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0055-0005.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
United States' Proposed Complaint in Intervention 12/11/2014
JC-NY-0055-0006.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
United States' Motion to Intervene Pursuant to the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Person Act 42 U.SC. § 1997 [With Supporting Brief Attached] 12/11/2014
JC-NY-0055-0007.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
[Letter informing judge of settlement] 06/22/2015
JC-NY-0055-0008.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
Consent Judgment [Proposed] 07/01/2015
JC-NY-0055-0010.pdf | Detail
Document Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Consent Judgment [Approved] 10/21/2015 (S.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0055-0009.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Francis, James C. IV (S.D.N.Y.) [Magistrate]
JC-NY-0055-0004 | JC-NY-0055-0005 | JC-NY-0055-9001
Swain, Laura Taylor (S.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0055-0009 | JC-NY-0055-9001
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Abady, Jonathan S. (New York)
JC-NY-0055-0001 | JC-NY-0055-0003 | JC-NY-0055-0004 | JC-NY-0055-0010 | JC-NY-0055-9001
Bharara, Preetinder S. (New York)
JC-NY-0055-0006 | JC-NY-0055-0007 | JC-NY-0055-0008
Bucci, Christina G (New York)
JC-NY-0055-9001
Chasan, Jonathan S. (New York)
JC-NY-0055-0001 | JC-NY-0055-0003 | JC-NY-0055-0004 | JC-NY-0055-0010 | JC-NY-0055-9001
Cleemann, Joseph G (New York)
JC-NY-0055-0001 | JC-NY-0055-0003 | JC-NY-0055-0004 | JC-NY-0055-9001
Conniff, Christopher P (New York)
JC-NY-0055-0001 | JC-NY-0055-0003 | JC-NY-0055-0004 | JC-NY-0055-9001
Coyle, Lisa Marie (New York)
JC-NY-0055-9001
Daughtry, Emily E. (New York)
JC-NY-0055-0006 | JC-NY-0055-0007 | JC-NY-0055-0008 | JC-NY-0055-9001
Dyer, Susanna G (Massachusetts)
JC-NY-0055-9001
Eshkenazi, Lara K. (New York)
JC-NY-0055-9001
Friedberg, Anna Elizabeth (New York)
JC-NY-0055-9001
Greenberger, Debra L. (New York)
JC-NY-0055-9001
Gupta, Vanita (District of Columbia)
JC-NY-0055-0006 | JC-NY-0055-0007
Holder, Eric H. Jr. (District of Columbia)
JC-NY-0055-0006 | JC-NY-0055-0007
Horowitz, Hayley (New York)
JC-NY-0055-9001
Hsu, Caroline Sandra (New York)
JC-NY-0055-9001
Powell, Jeffrey K. (New York)
JC-NY-0055-0006 | JC-NY-0055-0007 | JC-NY-0055-0008 | JC-NY-0055-0010 | JC-NY-0055-9001
Raad, Amanda (New York)
JC-NY-0055-0001 | JC-NY-0055-0003 | JC-NY-0055-0004 | JC-NY-0055-9001
Rosenfeld, Katherine (New York)
JC-NY-0055-0001 | JC-NY-0055-0003 | JC-NY-0055-0004 | JC-NY-0055-9001
Salzman, Zoe Antonia (New York)
JC-NY-0055-9001
Shapiro, Samuel (New York)
JC-NY-0055-9001
Sussman, William I (New York)
JC-NY-0055-0001 | JC-NY-0055-0003 | JC-NY-0055-0004 | JC-NY-0055-0010 | JC-NY-0055-9001
Talla, Vasudha (New York)
JC-NY-0055-0001 | JC-NY-0055-0003 | JC-NY-0055-0004 | JC-NY-0055-9001
Werlwas, Mary Lynne (New York)
JC-NY-0055-0001 | JC-NY-0055-0003 | JC-NY-0055-0004 | JC-NY-0055-9001
Defendant's Lawyers Carter, Zachary W. (New York)
JC-NY-0055-0010
Joyce, Kimberly (New York)
JC-NY-0055-9001
Koutsoudakis, Andreas (New York)
JC-NY-0055-9001
Kretz, Walter Aoysius Jr. (New York)
JC-NY-0055-9001
Larkin, Arthur G. III (New York)
JC-NY-0055-0004 | JC-NY-0055-9001
Nguyen, Diep (New York)
JC-NY-0055-9001
Peltz, Alexander (New York)
JC-NY-0055-9001
Savino, Kimberly (New York)
JC-NY-0055-0004
Schatz, Julie Pearlman (New York)
JC-NY-0055-9001
Signorelli, Richard (New York)
JC-NY-0055-9001
Wien, Howard (New York)
JC-NY-0055-9001
Other Lawyers None on record

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