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Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Henderson v. Thomas PC-AL-0033
Docket / Court 2:11-cv-00224-MHT-WC ( M.D. Ala. )
State/Territory Alabama
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Prison Conditions
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU National (all projects)
ACLU National Prison Project
Case Summary
On March 28, 2011, a class of HIV-positive men and women imprisoned by the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) filed this lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, under the American with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Rehabilitation Act. The plaintiffs, ... read more >
On March 28, 2011, a class of HIV-positive men and women imprisoned by the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) filed this lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, under the American with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Rehabilitation Act. The plaintiffs, represented by the ACLU of Alabama, the national ACLU, the ACLU AIDS Project, and the ACLU National Prison Project, sought declaratory and injunctive relief.

The plaintiffs alleged that the ADOC's policy of segregating HIV-positive prisoners from the rest of the general population violated the ADA. Specifically, they alleged that the ADOC did not provide those prisoners with equal treatment by excluding them from certain housing units, substance abuse programs, jobs, certain medical treatment, and work release. Additionally, they challenged the ADOC policy of publicizing the prisoners HIV-positive status by requiring them to wear white armbands, thus stigmatizing those with HIV.

On August 30, 2012, the District Court (Judge Myron H. Thompson) approved the plaintiff's motion to certify the class, finding that the requirements for class certification had been met (289 F.R.D. 506). On September 5, 2012, Judge Thompson denied the defendant's motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted (891 F.Supp.2d 1296). In this ruling, Judge Thompson found that the plaintiffs "plausibly alleged" that the prisoner's HIV status qualified as an impairment that substantially limited a major life ability, as required under the ADA, because the immune system of the person diagnosed was impaired. He also found that the claim under the Rehabilitation Act was sufficient because HIV did not fall under the Act's contagious disease exception. Judge Thompson also held that the plaintiffs didn't need to exhaust their administrative remedies, as required under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, because the prison didn't provide appropriate forms for the prisoners to use to file administrative grievances. Finally, he held that sovereign immunity did not apply, and thus the ADOC could be sued.

On December 21, 2012, Judge Thompson held that the policies of the ADOC did violate the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act (2012 WL 6681773). After finding that the plaintiffs had standing to sue and that their claims were not moot, Judge Thompson held that the blanket policy of segregation violated the two acts and that housing HIV-positive inmates at other facilities would not provide an undue burden on the state. The court did not address the allegations regarding the work release policy.

On August 6, 2013, the court preliminarily approved the parties' proposed settlement agreement. Under the terms of the detailed agreement, the defendant agreed to the following: discontinuation of separate HIV housing and isolation at intake; revision of all HIV-specific policies and protocols; maintenance of an Acute Care Unit for inmate care; implementation of a detailed procedure before any HIV-positive inmate is transferred to defendant's facilities; adoption of new hiring and reporting requirements; and payment of $1.3 million in attorneys fees. The judge formally approved the parties' settlement agreement and ordered the case closed on September 30, 2013.

Jonathan Forman - 07/05/2013
Priyah Kaul - 11/18/2014


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Male
Content of Injunction
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Discrimination Prohibition
Follow recruitment, hiring, or promotion protocols
Implement complaint/dispute resolution process
Other requirements regarding hiring, promotion, retention
Reasonable Accommodation
Reporting
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Classification / placement
Confidentiality
Disparate Treatment
Pattern or Practice
Testing
Work release or work assignments
Medical/Mental Health
HIV/AIDS
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
Defendant(s) Alabama Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description The class of all current and future prisoners under supervision of the Alabama Department of Corrections who have tested positive for HIV.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU National (all projects)
ACLU National Prison Project
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Declaratory Judgment
Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Order Duration 2013 - 2015
Case Closing Year 2013
Case Ongoing Unknown
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)
2:11-cv-00224-MHT-WC (M.D. Ala.) 01/06/2015
PC-AL-0033-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief 03/28/2011
PC-AL-0033-0009.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Amended Class Action Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief 05/11/2011
PC-AL-0033-0010.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Second Amended Class Action Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief 09/29/2011
PC-AL-0033-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion and Order 08/30/2012 (289 F.R.D. 506) (M.D. Ala.)
PC-AL-0033-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion and Order 09/05/2012 (891 F.Supp.2d 1296) (M.D. Ala.)
PC-AL-0033-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Motion to Appeal Magistrate Judge's Order 09/05/2012
PC-AL-0033-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Urgent Motion for Ruling from District Judge Myron H. Thompson on Plaintiffs’ Appeal of Magistrate Judge’s Order (DOC. NO. 201) 09/06/2012
PC-AL-0033-0005.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs’ Objections to Defendants’ Witness and Exhibit List 09/11/2012
PC-AL-0033-0007.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 09/14/2012 (M.D. Ala.)
PC-AL-0033-0006.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion and Order 12/21/2012 (2012 WL 6681773) (M.D. Ala.)
PC-AL-0033-0008.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: District Court
Judgment 12/21/2012 (M.D. Ala.)
PC-AL-0033-0011.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Preliminarily Approving Parties' Proposed Settlement Agreement 08/06/2013 (M.D. Ala.)
PC-AL-0033-0012.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Capel, Wallace Jr. (M.D. Ala.) [Magistrate]
PC-AL-0033-9000
Thompson, Myron Herbert (M.D. Ala., N.D. Ala.)
PC-AL-0033-0002 | PC-AL-0033-0003 | PC-AL-0033-0006 | PC-AL-0033-0008 | PC-AL-0033-0011 | PC-AL-0033-0012 | PC-AL-0033-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Eber, Gabriel B. (District of Columbia)
PC-AL-0033-9000
Goad, Amanda C. (New York)
PC-AL-0033-0004 | PC-AL-0033-0005 | PC-AL-0033-0007 | PC-AL-0033-9000
Neal, Allison Eichenfeld (Alabama)
PC-AL-0033-0001 | PC-AL-0033-0009 | PC-AL-0033-0010 | PC-AL-0033-9000
Saxe, Rose A. (New York)
PC-AL-0033-0001 | PC-AL-0033-0004 | PC-AL-0033-0005 | PC-AL-0033-0007 | PC-AL-0033-0009 | PC-AL-0033-0010 | PC-AL-0033-9000
Segall, Robert D. (Alabama)
PC-AL-0033-0001 | PC-AL-0033-0004 | PC-AL-0033-0005 | PC-AL-0033-0007 | PC-AL-0033-0009 | PC-AL-0033-0010 | PC-AL-0033-9000
Shapiro, David M. (District of Columbia)
PC-AL-0033-0005 | PC-AL-0033-0007 | PC-AL-0033-9000
Takei, Carl (District of Columbia)
PC-AL-0033-0001 | PC-AL-0033-0004 | PC-AL-0033-0005 | PC-AL-0033-0007 | PC-AL-0033-0009 | PC-AL-0033-0010 | PC-AL-0033-9000
Wedekind, Jennifer A. (District of Columbia)
PC-AL-0033-9000
Winter, Margaret (District of Columbia)
PC-AL-0033-0001 | PC-AL-0033-0004 | PC-AL-0033-0005 | PC-AL-0033-0007 | PC-AL-0033-0009 | PC-AL-0033-0010 | PC-AL-0033-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Block, David B. (Alabama)
PC-AL-0033-9000
Greggs, Mitchell D. (Alabama)
PC-AL-0033-9000
Hill, Anne A. (Alabama)
PC-AL-0033-9000
Lunsford, William R. (Alabama)
PC-AL-0033-9000
McKinnon, Janine A. (Alabama)
PC-AL-0033-9000
Rouse, Scott Lee (Alabama)
PC-AL-0033-9000
Sees, Elizabeth A. (Alabama)
PC-AL-0033-9000
Shah, Mitesh (Alabama)
PC-AL-0033-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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