University of Michigan Law School
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Case Name Etters v. Bennett PC-NC-0013
Docket / Court 5:09-ct-03187-D ( E.D.N.C. )
State/Territory North Carolina
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
On November 18, 2009, female inmates of the North Carolina Department of Correction (DOC) filed a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against individual employees and supervisors. The plaintiffs, represented by the North ... read more >
On November 18, 2009, female inmates of the North Carolina Department of Correction (DOC) filed a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against individual employees and supervisors. The plaintiffs, represented by the North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services, asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as damages, claiming that the defendants violated their Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Specifically, the plaintiffs claimed that various DOC employees had sexually assaulted, abused, or harassed them during their confinement and that certain supervisory defendants did nothing to prevent the abuse.

On September 10, 2010, Judge James C. Dever denied the plaintiffs' class certification motion without prejudice.

On March 16, 2011, Judge Dever granted in part a motion by several defendants for judgment on the pleadings, dismissed two plaintiffs and four defendants, and dismissed the remaining plaintiffs' First and Fourteenth Amendment claims. The court also denied the plaintiffs' second motion for class certification. Etters v. Bennett, 2011 WL 976472 (E.D.N.C. Mar. 16, 2011). The plaintiffs appealed, and on August 30, 2011, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit issued an opinion per curiam dismissing one of the plaintiff's appeals when her claim was dismissed by the district court. King v. Bennett, 444 F. App'x 686 (4th Cir. 2011).

On August 1, 2011, Judge Dever denied one of the defendant's motion for appointment of counsel (because he failed to fill out the necessary form) and denied a motion to intervene by another inmate. Etters v. Bennett, 2011 WL 3320489 (E.D.N.C. Aug. 1, 2011).

On May 18, 2012, plaintiff Deven Deal and defendants Keller, Bennett, Kimble, Harvey, and Blalock filed a joint stipulation of dismissal, seeking dismissal with prejudice of plaintiff Deal's claims against these defendants. On May 21, 2012, Deal filed a second notice of voluntary dismissal, seeking dismissal with prejudice of her claims against defendant Barbosa. On the same date, plaintiff Sandra Etters and defendants Young, Lancaster, and Harvey filed a joint motion to expedite the entry of an order based on their proposed settlement agreement, and Etters filed a motion for entry of default judgment against defendant Simms. The defendants agreed to improve sexual safety through policies, training practices, changes to physical facilities, and other measures for the prevention of sexual abuse.

On May 30, 2012, the court approved the two voluntary dismissals and approved the settlement by the parties providing for changes to state policies concerning reporting and investigating claims of sexual abuse by inmates. The court also approved a default judgment for Etters against Simms, the only remaining claims. Etters v. Young, 2012 WL 1950415 (E.D.N.C. May 30, 2012).

On February 6, 2013, Magistrate Judge James E. Gates issued a memorandum and recommendation that Etters be awarded $100,000 in compensatory damages and $100,000 in punitive damages, for a total damages award of $200,000 from defendant Charlie Cortez Simms. No party filed any objections. Etters v. Shanahan, 2013 WL 787344 (E.D.N.C. Feb. 6, 2013). Etters v. Shanahan, 2013 WL 787344 (E.D.N.C. Feb. 6, 2013).

On March 4, 2013, Judge Dever dismissed the claims of two of the plaintiffs and dismissed four of the defendants. The court also dismissed the six of the defendants as to the third plaintiff. Judge Dever also accepted the memorandum and recommendation of Magistrate Judge Gates. Etters v. Shanahan, 2013 WL 792834 (E.D.N.C. Mar. 4, 2013).

Jessica Kincaid - 07/14/2014


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Equal Protection
Freedom of speech/association
Unreasonable search and seizure
Content of Injunction
Monitoring
Other requirements regarding hiring, promotion, retention
Reporting
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Assault/abuse by staff
Failure to train
Sex w/ staff; sexual harassment by staff
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) North Carolina Department of Correction
Plaintiff Description Female inmates of the North Carolina Department of Correction who were sexually assaulted, abused, and harassed by employees.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Settlement
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Voluntary Dismissal
Order Duration 2012 - 2015
Case Closing Year n/a
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)
5:09−ct−03187 (E.D.N.C.) 03/13/2013
PC-NC-0013-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint ( Jury Trial Demanded) 11/18/2009
PC-NC-0013-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Denying Motion for Class Certification] 09/10/2010 (E.D.N.C.)
PC-NC-0013-0007.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Dismissing Class Claims] 03/16/2011 (2011 WL 976472) (E.D.N.C.)
PC-NC-0013-0008.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Denying Motion to Intervene] 08/01/2011 (2011 WL 3320489) (E.D.N.C.)
PC-NC-0013-0009.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judgment 08/30/2011
PC-NC-0013-0010.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Joint Motion to Expedite Entry of Order and Agreement 05/21/2012
PC-NC-0013-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order and Agreement 05/21/2012
PC-NC-0013-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Granting Voluntary Dismissal] 05/30/2012 (2012 WL 1950415) (E.D.N.C.)
PC-NC-0013-0011.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum and Recommendation 02/06/2013 (2013 WL 787344)
PC-NC-0013-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 02/25/2013 (E.D.N.C.)
PC-NC-0013-0005.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Bloomberg Law
Judgment in a Civil Case 03/04/2013 (E.D.N.C.)
PC-NC-0013-0006.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Awarding Damages] 03/04/2013 (2013 WL 792834) (E.D.N.C.)
PC-NC-0013-0012.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Dever, James C. III (E.D.N.C.) [Magistrate]
PC-NC-0013-0007 | PC-NC-0013-0008 | PC-NC-0013-0009 | PC-NC-0013-0011 | PC-NC-0013-0012 | PC-NC-0013-9000
Gates, James E. (E.D.N.C.) [Magistrate]
PC-NC-0013-0004 | PC-NC-0013-0005
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Albiston, Elizabeth (North Carolina)
PC-NC-0013-0001 | PC-NC-0013-0002 | PC-NC-0013-0003 | PC-NC-0013-9000
Giancola, April Marie (North Carolina)
PC-NC-0013-9000
Griffin, J. Phillip (North Carolina)
PC-NC-0013-0001 | PC-NC-0013-0002 | PC-NC-0013-0003 | PC-NC-0013-9000
Luecking-Sunman, Michele R. (North Carolina)
PC-NC-0013-0001 | PC-NC-0013-0002 | PC-NC-0013-0003 | PC-NC-0013-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Finarelli, Joseph (North Carolina)
PC-NC-0013-0002 | PC-NC-0013-0003 | PC-NC-0013-9000
Grande, Kimberly D. (North Carolina)
PC-NC-0013-0002 | PC-NC-0013-0003 | PC-NC-0013-9000
Ricci, Yvonne Bulluck (North Carolina)
PC-NC-0013-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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