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Case Name Disability Rights Florida v. Crews PC-FL-0021
Docket / Court 1:14-cv-23323 ( S.D. Fla. )
State/Territory Florida
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Special Collection Post-PLRA Jail and Prison Private Settlement Agreements
Prison Legal News
Attorney Organization NDRN/Protection & Advocacy Organizations
Case Summary
On September 9, 2014, Disability Rights Florida filed this lawsuit on behalf of its clients and constituents, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. The suit was brought under 42 U.S.C. §1983 (under the Eighth Amendment), the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the ... read more >
On September 9, 2014, Disability Rights Florida filed this lawsuit on behalf of its clients and constituents, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. The suit was brought under 42 U.S.C. §1983 (under the Eighth Amendment), the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the federal Rehabilitation Act, against Wexford Health Sources and the Florida Department of Corrections. The Plaintiff, represented by private and public interest counsel, asked the court for injunctive and declaratory relief, claiming abuse and discrimination against inmates with mental illness as well as inadequate care for such inmates. Specifically, Plaintiff claimed that officials at Dade Correctional Institution (Dade CI) subjected inmates with serious mental illness in their inpatient mental health units to physical beatings, verbal harassment, deprivation of food, and torture. Plaintiff claimed that defendant Secretary was on notice of these conditions and failed to investigate the allegations of abuse and adequately punish those responsible.

Disability Rights Florida, the Plaintiff, is a federally-mandated protection and advocacy system tasked with the responsibility of protecting the rights of individuals with mental illness in the state. First, Plaintiff requested that the court declare the Defendants's conduct unlawful and unconstitutional. Second, Plaintiff requested an injunction requiring the defendant Secretary to: cease all actions that violate the constitutional and statutory rights of mentally ill inmates at the Dade CI inpatient unit, take immediate action to investigate and stop the ongoing abuse of such inmates, train and supervise officers assigned to the unit, develop a system of periodic independent oversight of the unit, and take immediate steps to ensure timely investigations of abuse upon these inmates. Third, Plaintiff requested an injunction requiring Defendant Wexford to mandate that its employees report allegations of abuse and ensure that inmates with mental illness receive adequate care. Fourth and finally, Plaintiff requested an injunction requiring the Florida Department of Corrections to stop discriminating against inmates in the Dade CI inpatient unit on the basis of disability.

On November 14, 2014, the court issued an order consolidating this case with a related case (1:14-cv-24140-RNS).

On April 10, 2015, the parties submitted a "private settlement agreement" to the Court; Judge Scola approved it on April 14. Among the terms of the settlement agreement:
  • The state agreed to provide Crisis Intervention Training to all staff at Dade CI.
  • The State will provide specialized training for correctional officers who work directly with inmates with mental illnesses.
  • The state agreed to upgrade its video monitoring system and begin a pilot program for an audio monitoring system.
  • The state agreed to try to provide full staffing at Dade CI.
  • An additional Assistant Warden position will be created at Dade CI to oversee issues involving individuals with mental illnesses.
  • A Mental Health Ombudsman position will be created at DOC's central office and at the Region III office. These positions are intended lead and supervise mental health care.
  • The state agreed to install televisions in the common areas of the inpatient units at Dade CI for both therapeutic and recreational activities.
  • The contractor for mental health services at Dade CI, Wexford Health Sources, agreed to implement all of these provisions, provide training, hire additional behavioral health staff, and conduct internal and external audits of its program.
  • A team of psychiatrists and security experts will visit Dade CI and will review records, observe therapeutic and non-therapeutic activities, and evaluate the safeguards against abuse and neglect at the facility. The experts will then make recommendations for any needed changes and improvements.

The parties will then continue to monitor compliance with the agreement through May of 2017.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, it is not court enforceable. However, the court is retaining jurisdiction over the matter for 6 months, and during that time, the plaintiff may seek to reopen the case and resume the litigation, if the state materially breaches the agreement. The agreement defines material breach to mean systemic deficiencies in implementation.

Spencer Klein - 02/08/2015


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Male
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Content of Injunction
Hire
Monitoring
Recordkeeping
Defendant-type
Corrections
Disability
Mental impairment
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Assault/abuse by staff
Bathing and hygiene
Classification / placement
Conditions of confinement
Counseling
Incident/accident reporting & investigations
Restraints : physical
Sanitation / living conditions
Torture
Medical/Mental Health
Mental health care, general
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI) Act, 42 U.S.C. § 10801
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Florida Department of Corrections
Wexford Health Sources, Inc.
Plaintiff Description Disability Rights Florida is an organization empowered by federal law to, among other things, file suit to protect the rights of individuals with mental illness who are in the custody of the state.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations NDRN/Protection & Advocacy Organizations
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 Private Settlement Agreement
Order Duration 2015 - 2016
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)
1:14-cv-23323 (S.D. Fla.) 04/14/2015
PC-FL-0021-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint For Declaratory and Injunctive Relief 09/09/2014
PC-FL-0021-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Last Amended Complaint 01/23/2015
PC-FL-0021-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Joint Motion for Administrative Closure of Case 04/10/2015
PC-FL-0021-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Administratively Closing Case Upon Notice of Settlement 04/15/2015 (S.D. Fla.)
PC-FL-0021-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Scola, Robert Nichols Jr. (S.D. Fla.)
PC-FL-0021-0004 | PC-FL-0021-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Boyer, David Allen (Florida)
PC-FL-0021-0001 | PC-FL-0021-0002 | PC-FL-0021-0003 | PC-FL-0021-9000
Lentz, Kristen Cooley (Florida)
PC-FL-0021-0002 | PC-FL-0021-9000
Paris, Molly Jean (Florida)
PC-FL-0021-0001 | PC-FL-0021-0002 | PC-FL-0021-0003 | PC-FL-0021-9000
Schulz, George E. Jr. (Florida)
PC-FL-0021-0001 | PC-FL-0021-0002 | PC-FL-0021-0003 | PC-FL-0021-9000
Sleasman, Peter P. (Florida)
PC-FL-0021-0001 | PC-FL-0021-0002 | PC-FL-0021-0003 | PC-FL-0021-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Bondi, Pamela Jo (Florida)
PC-FL-0021-0003
Desai, Devang B (Florida)
PC-FL-0021-0003 | PC-FL-0021-9000
Maher, Susan Adams (Florida)
PC-FL-0021-0003 | PC-FL-0021-9000
Marrero, Oscar Edmund (Florida)
PC-FL-0021-9000
Tietig, Lisa Kuhlman (Florida)
PC-FL-0021-9000
Toomey, Gregg Alan (Florida)
PC-FL-0021-9000
Wydler, Lourdes Espino (Florida)
PC-FL-0021-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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