University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Ball v. LeBlanc PC-LA-0014
Docket / Court 3:13-cv-00368 ( M.D. La. )
State/Territory Louisiana
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
On June 10, 2013, several death row inmates filed this suit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections and the Louisiana State Penitentiary. The plaintiffs, represented by the Promise of ... read more >
On June 10, 2013, several death row inmates filed this suit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections and the Louisiana State Penitentiary. The plaintiffs, represented by the Promise of Justice Initiative and private counsel, alleged they were subject to serious mental and physical health risks from continuous exposure to severe seasonal heat, which they claimed violated the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

On December 19, 2013, the District Court (Judge Brian A. Jackson) ordered that the defendants immediately develop a plan to reduce and maintain the heat index in the death row tiers at or below 88 degrees Fahrenheit. The Court also awarded the plaintiffs reasonable attorneys' fees and costs.

The defendants appealed this ruling and moved to stay the order. On January 17, 2014, the District Court denied the defendants' motion to stay pending appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. A month later, the Fifth Circuit also denied a stay pending appeal.

Pursuant to the District Court's order, on February 17, 2014, the defendants submitted a plan to keep the index in death row at or below 88 degrees Fahrenheit between April 1 and October 31. The defendants hired an expert, who determined that the only way to maintain this temperature was to install facility-wide air conditioning. Accordingly, the defendants proposed the addition of nine tons of air conditioning capacity on each death row tier. The plan also provided for automatic monitoring and recording of temperature and humidity data, one cold shower per day for each inmate, and the provision of clean ice and ice chests.

As the District Court proceeded with the case (and while the appeal proceeded before the Fifth Circuit), the United States Department of Justice filed a notice of interest in the case, expressing its view that if the Court found a constitutional violation, broad relief--including an independent monitor and access rights for the plaintiffs' counsel--was within the authority of the District Court. (The United States took no position on whether the conditions at Angola violated the Eighth Amendment.)

On May 23, 2014, the District Court (Judge Jackson) approved the State's remediation plan and chose a monitor. On June 3, 2014, the court rendered final judgment, finding for the prisoners on the Eighth Amendment claim and for the State on the Americans with Disabilities Act claim. The State appealed. This time, on June 6, 2014, the Fifth Circuit granted a stay while that appeal was pending. The prisoners asked the Supreme Court Justice Scalia (who is the Circuit Justice for the Fifth Circuit) to vacate the stay on June 30, but on July 3 Justice Scalia denied that request.

On July 8, 2015, the Fifth Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part, in a decision by Judge Edith Jones. The Court of Appeals upheld the liability finding, but said that under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, the injunction was too broad. The District Court's order to maintain the heat index at or below 88 degrees, the Court explained, amounted to a requirement of facility-wide air conditioning -- and that was not constitutionally compelled. A narrower remedy would suffice: a daily cold shower, or fans and ice containers, or plentiful cold drinking water and ice. In addition, the relief should not have been awarded facility wide. Since the action was not a class action, relief should have been awarded for the three plaintiffs, individually. Judge Reavley dissented, explaining that the injunction was sufficiently narrow.

The Court remanded for crafting of an appropriately tailored injunction.

Meredith Osborne - 11/03/2013
Jessica Kincaid - 03/09/2014
- 07/20/2015


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Male
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Equal Protection
Content of Injunction
Implement complaint/dispute resolution process
Monitor/Master
Preliminary relief granted
Recordkeeping
Reporting
Defendant-type
Corrections
Disability
Mental impairment
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Conditions of confinement
Food service / nutrition / hydration
Unconstitutional conditions of confinement
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Mental health care, general
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.
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections
Plaintiff Description Inmates alleging injury due to extreme heat during summer months.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
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)
13A1286 (U.S. Supreme Court) 07/03/2014
PC-LA-0014-9001.pdf | Detail
Supreme Court website
3:13−cv−00368 (M.D. La.) 07/10/2015
PC-LA-0014-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint 06/10/2013
PC-LA-0014-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Statement of Interest of the United States 08/02/2013
PC-LA-0014-0012.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [denying Defendants' motion to remove awnings] 09/17/2013 (M.D. La.)
PC-LA-0014-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Ruling and Order 12/19/2013 (988 F.Supp.2d 639) (M.D. La.)
PC-LA-0014-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Ruling and Order [Granting Plaintiffs' Motion for Judicial Notice of Prison Regulations and Louisiana Laws Requiring Climate Control] 12/19/2013 (M.D. La.)
PC-LA-0014-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Ruling and Order [Granting in Part and Denying in Part Plaintiffs' Motions for Sanctions] 12/19/2013 (2013 WL 6705154) (M.D. La.)
PC-LA-0014-0006.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Ruling and Order 12/19/2013 (M.D. La.)
PC-LA-0014-0010.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Ruling and Order [Denying Defendants' Motion to Stay Pending Appeal] 01/17/2014 (2014 WL 231920) (M.D. La.)
PC-LA-0014-0007.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Ruling and Order [Denying Motion for Guidance from the Court] 02/13/2014 (2014 WL 639504) (M.D. La.)
PC-LA-0014-0008.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendants' Submission of Heat Remediation Plan 02/17/2014
PC-LA-0014-0009.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Approving Defendants' Heat Remediation Plan 05/23/2014 (E.D. La.)
PC-LA-0014-0015.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Final Order Approving Special Master 05/29/2014 (M.D. La.)
PC-LA-0014-0016.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judgment 06/02/2014 (M.D. La.)
PC-LA-0014-0017.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Granting Motion for Stay Pending Appeal] 06/06/2014
PC-LA-0014-0013.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
[Opinion] Appeals from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana 07/08/2015 (2015 WL 4114473)
PC-LA-0014-0018.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Clement, Edith Brown (Fifth Circuit, E.D. La.)
PC-LA-0014-0013
Jackson, Brian Anthony (M.D. La.)
PC-LA-0014-0002 | PC-LA-0014-0003 | PC-LA-0014-0004 | PC-LA-0014-0006 | PC-LA-0014-0007 | PC-LA-0014-0008 | PC-LA-0014-0010 | PC-LA-0014-0015 | PC-LA-0014-0016 | PC-LA-0014-0017 | PC-LA-0014-9000
Jones, Edith Hollan (Fifth Circuit)
PC-LA-0014-0018
Jones, Warren Leroy (Eleventh Circuit, Fifth Circuit)
PC-LA-0014-0013
Prado, Edward Charles (Fifth Circuit, W.D. Tex.)
PC-LA-0014-0013
Reavley, Thomas Morrow (Fifth Circuit)
PC-LA-0014-0018
Riedlinger, Stephen C. (M.D. La.) [Magistrate]
PC-LA-0014-9000
Monitors/Masters Hebert, Paul J. (Louisiana)
PC-LA-0014-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Compa, Elizabeth Claire (Louisiana)
PC-LA-0014-0001 | PC-LA-0014-9000
Dellinger, Walter (District of Columbia)
PC-LA-0014-9001
Kamin, Mitchell A. (California)
PC-LA-0014-0001 | PC-LA-0014-9000
Kornberg, Jessica C (California)
PC-LA-0014-0001 | PC-LA-0014-9000
Montagnes, Mercedes Hardy (Louisiana)
PC-LA-0014-0001 | PC-LA-0014-9000
Scheckman, Steven Robert (Louisiana)
PC-LA-0014-0001 | PC-LA-0014-9000
Vora, Nilay U (California)
PC-LA-0014-0001 | PC-LA-0014-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Atkinson, Judith R. E. (Louisiana)
PC-LA-0014-0009 | PC-LA-0014-9000
Balhoff, Thomas E (Louisiana)
PC-LA-0014-0009 | PC-LA-0014-9000
Guillot, Joseph Charles (Alabama)
PC-LA-0014-9000
Hilburn, James L (Louisiana)
PC-LA-0014-0009 | PC-LA-0014-9000 | PC-LA-0014-9001
Jones, Carlton, III (Louisiana)
PC-LA-0014-0009 | PC-LA-0014-9000
McInnis, Amy L (Louisiana)
PC-LA-0014-0009 | PC-LA-0014-9000
Shows, Edmond Wade (Louisiana)
PC-LA-0014-0009 | PC-LA-0014-9000
Wilson, Jacqueline B (Louisiana)
PC-LA-0014-0009 | PC-LA-0014-9000
Other Lawyers Austin, Roy L. (District of Columbia)
PC-LA-0014-0012
Barnett−Bernal, S. Brooke (Louisiana)
PC-LA-0014-9000
Coon, Laura (District of Columbia)
PC-LA-0014-0012
Ewing, John Lane Jr. (Louisiana)
PC-LA-0014-9000
Green, J. Walter (Louisiana)
PC-LA-0014-0012
Jordan, LaToya D. (Louisiana)
PC-LA-0014-9000
Maraist, Catherine M. (Louisiana)
PC-LA-0014-0012 | PC-LA-0014-9000
Myrthil, Marlysha (District of Columbia)
PC-LA-0014-0012
Patterson, Michael A. (Louisiana)
PC-LA-0014-9000
Samuels, Jocelyn (District of Columbia)
PC-LA-0014-0012
Smith, Jonathan Mark (District of Columbia)
PC-LA-0014-0012

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