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Case Name Sorrentino v. Godinez PC-IL-0030
Docket / Court 1:12-cv-06757 ( N.D. Ill. )
State/Territory Illinois
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Attorney Organization Uptown People's Law Center
Case Summary
On August 22, 2012, two individuals incarcerated by the Illinois Department of Corrections filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois under the 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201, et seq., against the State of Illinois. The ... read more >
On August 22, 2012, two individuals incarcerated by the Illinois Department of Corrections filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois under the 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201, et seq., against the State of Illinois. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel and the Uptown People's Law Center, alleged that prison employees confiscated several items of personal property from their cells. They asked the Court for a judgment declaring that the confiscation constituted a taking without just compensation, in violation of the Fifth Amendment and the Contract Clause of the U.S. Constitution, and directing the defendant to either return or provide just compensation for the confiscated property.

The plaintiffs, incarcerated at the Stateville Correctional Center ("Stateville") purchased several items from the prison commissary, including a typewriter and multiple fans, that had been approved for prisoner use. In July 2012, the Warden of Stateville reversed course and mandated the confiscation of all typewriters and any fan in excess of one per inmate.

On October 3, 2013, the District Court (Judge Thomas Durkin) granted the defendant's Motion to Dismiss and dismissed all counts with prejudice. 2013 WL 5497244. The Court found that the removal of the items from plaintiffs' cells did not constitute a taking. It determined there was no deprivation of property since incarceration entails limitations upon certain rights, including the right to possess property. The Court also found that the plaintiffs did not enter into a contract with the state when they purchased their items from the prison commissary.

On October 29, 2013, plaintiffs appealed their case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Oral arguments were heard on September 10, 2014 before Judges Easterbrook, Tinder, and Wood.

On February 17, 2015, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled that the District Court was correct in dismissing the action, but the dismissal should have been without prejudice.

Nate West - 10/02/2014
Erin Pamukcu - 02/22/2016


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Conditions of confinement
Loss or damage to property
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Illinois Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description Plaintiffs were inmates at the Stateville Correctional Center who had personal items confiscated by prison officials.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Uptown People's Law Center
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2015
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)
1:12−cv−06757 (N.D. Ill.) 07/10/2014
PC-IL-0030-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint 08/22/2012
PC-IL-0030-0001.pdf | Detail
Memorandum Opinion and Order 10/03/2013 (2013 WL 5497244) (N.D. Ill.)
PC-IL-0030-0002.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
[Order Affirming District Court's Dismissal] 01/23/2015 (777 F.3d 410)
PC-IL-0030-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: U.S. Court of Appeals website
Final Judgment 01/23/2015
PC-IL-0030-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Durkin, Thomas Michael (N.D. Ill.)
PC-IL-0030-0002 | PC-IL-0030-9000
Easterbrook, Frank Hoover (Seventh Circuit)
PC-IL-0030-0003
Kennelly, Matthew F. (N.D. Ill.)
PC-IL-0030-9000
Tinder, John Daniel (S.D. Ind., Seventh Circuit)
PC-IL-0030-0003
Wood, Diane Pamela (Seventh Circuit)
PC-IL-0030-0003
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Flaxman, Kenneth N. (Illinois)
PC-IL-0030-9000
Kasdin, Michael C. (Illinois)
PC-IL-0030-9000
Mills, Alan S. (Illinois)
PC-IL-0030-0001 | PC-IL-0030-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Doran, James Patrick (Illinois)
PC-IL-0030-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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