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Case Name Colon v. Passaic County JC-NJ-0023
Docket / Court 2:08-cv-4439 ( D.N.J. )
State/Territory New Jersey
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Special Collection Post-PLRA enforceable consent decrees
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
Case Summary
On September 3, 2008, inmates at the Passaic County Jail (PCJ) filed a class-action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey against Passaic County, Passaic County Jail and its various officers, and the Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Corrections (DOC), under 42 ... read more >
On September 3, 2008, inmates at the Passaic County Jail (PCJ) filed a class-action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey against Passaic County, Passaic County Jail and its various officers, and the Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Corrections (DOC), under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiffs, represented by attorneys from ACLU - New Jersey, Seton Hall University School of Law's Center for Social Justice, and private counsel, sought declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging that Passaic County violated their constitutional rights due to the deplorable conditions of confinement at the PCJ.

Specifically, the complaint alleged constitutional violations as a result, among others, of overcrowding (the PCJ was designed to hold 896 inmates, but it routinely held more than 1,700 inmates), leading to a lack of privacy, loss of sleep and the threat of inmate violence; unsanitary living conditions; unsafe and inadequate food; inadequate fire detection and alarm systems; use of excessive force by Correction Officers, including the use of dogs for intimidation; restrictions on religious freedom; and (10) retaliation for airing grievances. They also alleged that the DOC was complicit in the violations, as they failed to enforce state regulations on the conditions of confinement against PCJ.

On May 27, 2009, the Court (Judge Dennis Cavanaugh) granted class certification to the plaintiffs and denied the DOC's motion to dismiss the claims. The certified class consists of all persons who were then or would afterwards become incarcerated at the PCJ.

Afterwards, the parties exchanged informal discovery and engaged in extensive settlement negotiations. On January 13, 2012, the Court (Judge Dennis Cavanaugh) entered an order directing notice of settlement between the plaintiffs and the defendants, not including the Commissioner of the DOC. The settlement agreement was to be provided to each inmate at the PCJ, or made otherwise available, to allow the Court scheduled a Fairness Hearing to evaluate the merits of the settlement agreement based. On February 23, 2012, the Court (Judge Dennis Cavanaugh) entered an order directing notice of settlement between the plaintiffs and the Commissioner of the DOC. The Court similarly ordered that each inmate have the copy or access to the copy of the settlement agreement and other relevant information, and schedule a fairness hearing.

On April 24, 2012, the Court (Judge Dennis Cavanaugh) approved the settlement agreement between the plaintiffs and the defendants Passaic County, PCJ and others, not including the Commissioner of the DOC. The Court retained jurisdiction over the case. Under the agreement, the defendants do not admit any liability and the plaintiffs reserved the right to litigate the issue of overcrowding further, if the agreement is not complied with. It has no preclusive effect except as between the parties. The defendants are to comply with various requirements to remedy the violations, including among others, annual use of force training, not putting beds closer than a certain distance from the toilets, conducting population management study if the monthly population exceeds 1022 inmates, install CCTV in most areas of the PCJ. The compliance will be monitored through an independent Monitor, who is entitled to conduct two site inspections annually, and is to submit a report after each site inspection. The parties are under an obligation to try dispute settlement before any judicial enforcement of the agreement, except in the cases of emergency. The agreement is in force for five years from the date of the agreement, which is April 24, 2012, unless compliance by PCJ is achieved before that date. The inmates at PCJ are to have access to the agreement. The defendants also agreed to pay $325,000 in attorney's fees under the agreement.

On May 7, 2012, the Court (Judge Dennis Cavanaugh) approved the settlement agreement between the plaintiffs and the defendant Commissioner of the DOC, dismissing all claims against the latter with prejudice. The term of the agreement is five years from the date of judicial approval. The agreement does not signify admission of liability by the defendant. The DOC is under an obligation to remove from PCJ all state inmates who received sentences or inmates who received parole revocation, and conduct inspections of the PCJ. The defendant also agreed to pay $25,000 in expert fees. The agreement is to be made available to all the inmates at the PCJ.

The case is closed, subject to the reporting by the Monitor.

Zhandos Kuderin - 04/23/2014


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process
Free Exercise Clause
Content of Injunction
Monitor/Master
Monitoring
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
Defendant-type
Corrections
Jurisdiction-wide
General
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Assault/abuse by residents/inmates/students
Assault/abuse by staff
Bathing and hygiene
Conditions of confinement
Counseling
Disciplinary procedures
Excessive force
Failure to supervise
Failure to train
Fire safety
Food service / nutrition / hydration
Grievance Procedures
Inadequate citizen complaint investigations and procedures
Incident/accident reporting & investigations
Personal injury
Religious programs / policies
Sanitation / living conditions
Sex w/ staff; sexual harassment by staff
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Suicide prevention
Unconstitutional conditions of confinement
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Mental health care, unspecified
Self-injurious behaviors
Suicide prevention
Untreated pain
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) New Jersey Department of Correction
Passaic County
Plaintiff Description Present and future inmates at Passaic County Jail
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2012 - 2017
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing No
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 ]

Docket(s)
2:08-cv-04439 (D.N.J.) 01/07/2014
JC-NJ-0023-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint 09/03/2008
JC-NJ-0023-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion 05/27/2009 (2009 WL 1560156) (D.N.J.)
JC-NJ-0023-0002.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 05/28/2009 (D.N.J.)
JC-NJ-0023-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Proposed Order Directing Notice of Settlement and Exhibits 01/06/2012
JC-NJ-0023-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Directing Notice of Settlement 01/13/2012 (D.N.J.)
JC-NJ-0023-0005.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Consent Order 01/25/2012 (D.N.J.)
JC-NJ-0023-0006.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Consent Order 02/17/2012 (D.N.J.)
JC-NJ-0023-0007.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Directing Notice of Settlement 02/27/2012 (D.N.J.)
JC-NJ-0023-0008.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion 04/24/2012 (2012 WL 1457764) (D.N.J.)
JC-NJ-0023-0010.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Final Judgment Order.pdf 04/25/2012 (D.N.J.)
JC-NJ-0023-0009.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Settlement Agreement and Order 04/25/2012
JC-NJ-0023-0011.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Final Judgment Order 05/07/2012 (D.N.J.)
JC-NJ-0023-0012.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Cavanaugh, Dennis M. (D.N.J.) [Magistrate]
JC-NJ-0023-0001 | JC-NJ-0023-0002 | JC-NJ-0023-0003 | JC-NJ-0023-0004 | JC-NJ-0023-0005 | JC-NJ-0023-0006 | JC-NJ-0023-0007 | JC-NJ-0023-0008 | JC-NJ-0023-0009 | JC-NJ-0023-0010 | JC-NJ-0023-0011 | JC-NJ-0023-0012 | JC-NJ-0023-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Condon, Jennifer B. (New Jersey)
JC-NJ-0023-0001 | JC-NJ-0023-0002 | JC-NJ-0023-0003 | JC-NJ-0023-0004 | JC-NJ-0023-0005 | JC-NJ-0023-0006 | JC-NJ-0023-0007 | JC-NJ-0023-0008 | JC-NJ-0023-0009 | JC-NJ-0023-0010 | JC-NJ-0023-0011 | JC-NJ-0023-0012 | JC-NJ-0023-9000
Crotty, Regan H (New Jersey)
JC-NJ-0023-0001 | JC-NJ-0023-0002 | JC-NJ-0023-0003 | JC-NJ-0023-0004 | JC-NJ-0023-0005 | JC-NJ-0023-0006 | JC-NJ-0023-0007 | JC-NJ-0023-0008 | JC-NJ-0023-0009 | JC-NJ-0023-0010 | JC-NJ-0023-0011 | JC-NJ-0023-0012 | JC-NJ-0023-9000
Goldberg, Emily B. (New Jersey)
JC-NJ-0023-0001 | JC-NJ-0023-0002 | JC-NJ-0023-0003 | JC-NJ-0023-0004 | JC-NJ-0023-0005 | JC-NJ-0023-0006 | JC-NJ-0023-0007 | JC-NJ-0023-0008 | JC-NJ-0023-0009 | JC-NJ-0023-0010 | JC-NJ-0023-0011 | JC-NJ-0023-0012 | JC-NJ-0023-9000
Krasner, Jennie B. (Virginia)
JC-NJ-0023-0001 | JC-NJ-0023-0002 | JC-NJ-0023-0003 | JC-NJ-0023-0004 | JC-NJ-0023-0005 | JC-NJ-0023-0006 | JC-NJ-0023-0007 | JC-NJ-0023-0008 | JC-NJ-0023-0009 | JC-NJ-0023-0010 | JC-NJ-0023-0011 | JC-NJ-0023-0012 | JC-NJ-0023-9000
LoCicero, Jeanne (New Jersey)
JC-NJ-0023-0001 | JC-NJ-0023-0002 | JC-NJ-0023-0003 | JC-NJ-0023-0004 | JC-NJ-0023-0005 | JC-NJ-0023-0006 | JC-NJ-0023-0007 | JC-NJ-0023-0008 | JC-NJ-0023-0009 | JC-NJ-0023-0010 | JC-NJ-0023-0011 | JC-NJ-0023-0012 | JC-NJ-0023-9000
Michie, Christopher J. (New Jersey)
JC-NJ-0023-9000
Perlmutter, Patricia P. (New Jersey)
JC-NJ-0023-0001 | JC-NJ-0023-0002 | JC-NJ-0023-0003 | JC-NJ-0023-0004 | JC-NJ-0023-0005 | JC-NJ-0023-0006 | JC-NJ-0023-0007 | JC-NJ-0023-0008 | JC-NJ-0023-0009 | JC-NJ-0023-0010 | JC-NJ-0023-0011 | JC-NJ-0023-0012 | JC-NJ-0023-9000
Rosenberg, Ezra David (New Jersey)
JC-NJ-0023-0001 | JC-NJ-0023-0002 | JC-NJ-0023-0003 | JC-NJ-0023-0004 | JC-NJ-0023-0005 | JC-NJ-0023-0006 | JC-NJ-0023-0007 | JC-NJ-0023-0008 | JC-NJ-0023-0009 | JC-NJ-0023-0010 | JC-NJ-0023-0011 | JC-NJ-0023-0012 | JC-NJ-0023-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Cocoziello, J. Barry (New Jersey)
JC-NJ-0023-0001 | JC-NJ-0023-0002 | JC-NJ-0023-0003 | JC-NJ-0023-0004 | JC-NJ-0023-0005 | JC-NJ-0023-0006 | JC-NJ-0023-0007 | JC-NJ-0023-0008 | JC-NJ-0023-0009 | JC-NJ-0023-0010 | JC-NJ-0023-0011 | JC-NJ-0023-0012 | JC-NJ-0023-9000
Conforti, Damian P. (New Jersey)
JC-NJ-0023-0001 | JC-NJ-0023-0002 | JC-NJ-0023-0003 | JC-NJ-0023-0004 | JC-NJ-0023-0005 | JC-NJ-0023-0006 | JC-NJ-0023-0007 | JC-NJ-0023-0008 | JC-NJ-0023-0009 | JC-NJ-0023-0010 | JC-NJ-0023-0011 | JC-NJ-0023-0012 | JC-NJ-0023-9000
Engallena, Michael J. (New Jersey)
JC-NJ-0023-0001 | JC-NJ-0023-0002 | JC-NJ-0023-0003 | JC-NJ-0023-0004 | JC-NJ-0023-0005 | JC-NJ-0023-0006 | JC-NJ-0023-0007 | JC-NJ-0023-0008 | JC-NJ-0023-0009 | JC-NJ-0023-0010 | JC-NJ-0023-0011 | JC-NJ-0023-0012 | JC-NJ-0023-9000
Kemble, Thomas E. (New Jersey)
JC-NJ-0023-0001 | JC-NJ-0023-0002 | JC-NJ-0023-0003 | JC-NJ-0023-0004 | JC-NJ-0023-0005 | JC-NJ-0023-0006 | JC-NJ-0023-0007 | JC-NJ-0023-0008 | JC-NJ-0023-0009 | JC-NJ-0023-0010 | JC-NJ-0023-0011 | JC-NJ-0023-0012 | JC-NJ-0023-9000
Kim, Christine H (New Jersey)
JC-NJ-0023-0001 | JC-NJ-0023-0002 | JC-NJ-0023-0003 | JC-NJ-0023-0004 | JC-NJ-0023-0005 | JC-NJ-0023-0006 | JC-NJ-0023-0007 | JC-NJ-0023-0008 | JC-NJ-0023-0009 | JC-NJ-0023-0010 | JC-NJ-0023-0011 | JC-NJ-0023-0012 | JC-NJ-0023-9000
Tolomeo, Marianne C. (New Jersey)
JC-NJ-0023-0001 | JC-NJ-0023-0002 | JC-NJ-0023-0003 | JC-NJ-0023-0004 | JC-NJ-0023-0005 | JC-NJ-0023-0006 | JC-NJ-0023-0007 | JC-NJ-0023-0008 | JC-NJ-0023-0009 | JC-NJ-0023-0010 | JC-NJ-0023-0011 | JC-NJ-0023-0012 | JC-NJ-0023-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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