University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name United States v. Piedmont Regional Jail Authority JC-VA-0013
Docket / Court 3:13-cv-00646 ( E.D. Va. )
State/Territory Virginia
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Attorney Organization U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Case Summary
On September 20, 2013, the United States of America filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia against Piedmont Regional Jail Authority, Virginia, pursuant to the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act of 1980, 42 U.S.C § 1997. The plaintiffs, ... read more >
On September 20, 2013, the United States of America filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia against Piedmont Regional Jail Authority, Virginia, pursuant to the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act of 1980, 42 U.S.C § 1997. The plaintiffs, represented by the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division attorneys, asked the court for permanent injunctive relief, alleging that the Jail's conditions of confinement deprived them of their rights, privileges and immunities afforded by the U.S. Constitution.

Specifically, the plaintiff alleged that, among other things, the defendant permitted unqualified personnel to evaluate and manage serious medical conditions, inadequately screened incoming prisoners for medical issues, inadequately trained its staff on suicide prevention, mental health care and first-responder health care, charged excessive co-payments for prisoners, and did not adequately supervise prisoners on suicide watch.

On September 6, 2012, the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice issued a "Findings Letter", where it concluded that certain conditions at the Jail violated the constitutional rights of the inmates.

The parties filed a joint motion to enter into a settlement agreement on September 20, 2013. On October 1, 2013, the Court (Judge James Spencer) issued an order granting the joint motion for settlement and approving the settlement agreement in its entirety.

Under the agreement, the Jail is to provide more appropriate medical staffing, better screen and document prisoners' health issues, reduce or exclude co-payments, and implement comprehensive policies for suicide prevention. The Jail must file bi-annual compliance reports and must notify the Monitor, James Welch, and the plaintiff upon death of any prisoner, or any serious suicide attempt. If the Monitor finds non-compliance, the plaintiff shall give notice to the defendant and allow 30 days to cure the failure. If the failure is not cured, the plaintiff may initiate contempt proceedings without further notice.

The agreement provides that the Court (Judge John Spencer) shall retain jurisdiction over the action until the defendant is determined to have substantially complied with the agreement. The agreement shall terminate when the Jail has achieved substantial compliance with the provisions of the agreement and has maintained such compliance for a period of 18 months. If substantial compliance has been achieved and maintained for 18 months, the parties will jointly stipulate to dismissal of the case within 30 days. The agreement is binding upon all the parties, including successors in office. The parties do not foresee any further litigation and the parties have foregone their obligations to preserve potentially discoverable information.

On September 6, 2012, the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice issued issued a "Findings Letter", where it concluded that certain conditions at the Jail violated the constitutional rights of the inmates.

The parties filed a joint motion to enter into a settlement agreement on September 20, 2013. On October 1, 2013, the Court (Judge James Spencer) issued an order granting the joint motion for settlement and approving the settlement agreement in its entirety.

Under the agreement, the Jail is to ensure medical staffing is sufficient and are properly licensed and trained, to ensure the initial screenings of incoming prisoners are fully documented and available to medical staff, to implement a system to provide each prisoner with a comprehensive health assessment with follow-up procedures, to ensure that all officers are trained annually in providing first-responder medical care and are trained on suicide prevention and mental health care, to exclude co-payment from health care at the Jail leaving only co-payment fee to see a nurse and is not to require co-payment if it results in effectively denying care to the prisoner, to provide sufficient mental health staffing and mental health screening including a chronic care program, to implement comprehensive policies for suicide prevention. The Jail shall file with the Court bi-annual compliance reports, the first of which is due within 180 days of the date when the Court (Judge John Spencer) signs and enters the agreement. Thereafter, the Jail is to file bi-annual compliance reports every six months. The Jail shall notify the Monitor and the plaintiff upon death of any prisoner, or any serious suicide attempt. If the Monitor finds non-compliance, the plaintiff shall give notice to the defendant and allow 30 days to cure the failure. If the failure is not cured, the plaintiff may initiate contempt proceedings without further notice.

The parties have jointly selected James Welch to be the Monitor of the implementation of the agreement. He is to have full and complete access to the Jail, records, staff and prisoners. The Monitor is to issue an initial report 120 days after the defendant files its first compliance report, and every 180 days afterwards.

The agreement provides that the Court (Judge John Spencer) shall retain jurisdiction over the action until the defendant is determined to have substantially complied with the agreement. The agreement shall terminate when the Jail has achieved substantial compliance with the provisions of the agreement and has maintained such compliance for a period of 18 months. If substantial compliance has been achieved and maintained for 18 months, the parties will jointly stipulate to dismissal of the case within 30 days. The agreement is binding upon all the parties, including successors in office. The parties do not foresee any further litigation and the parties have foregone their obligations to preserve potentially discoverable information.

The last action of the Court (Judge John Spencer) was an order granting motion for an extension of the time to file on February 3, 2014. The reporting deadlines under the agreement have been extended for 60 days.

Zhandos Kuderin - 03/18/2014


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process
Content of Injunction
Monitor/Master
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Counseling
Failure to train
Suicide prevention
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Mental health care, general
Self-injurious behaviors
Suicide prevention
Plaintiff Type
U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff
Causes of Action Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997 et seq.
Defendant(s) Piedmont Regional Jail
Plaintiff Description United States Government
Indexed Lawyer Organizations U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
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 2013 - n/a
Case Closing Year 2014
Case Ongoing Unknown
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)
3:13−cv−00646 (E.D. Va.) 10/09/2013
JC-VA-0013-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint 09/20/2013
JC-VA-0013-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Letter of Findings 09/20/2013
JC-VA-0013-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Settlement Agreement 09/20/2013
JC-VA-0013-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Spencer, James Randolph (E.D. Va.)
JC-VA-0013-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Fleisher, Aaron S (District of Columbia)
JC-VA-0013-0003 | JC-VA-0013-9000
Holder, Eric H. Jr. (District of Columbia)
JC-VA-0013-0001 | JC-VA-0013-9000
Mcintosh, Robert P (Virginia)
JC-VA-0013-0003 | JC-VA-0013-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Cohen, Zachary Daniel (Virginia)
JC-VA-0013-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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