University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Lopez v. Brown PC-CA-0071
Docket / Court 15-cv-02725 ( N.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Special Collection Prison Legal News
Solitary confinement
Case Summary
On June 17, 2015, death row prisoners at California's San Quentin prison, who had been kept in prolonged solitary confinement, filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The plaintiffs sued the State of California, the San Quentin State Prison, the ... read more >
On June 17, 2015, death row prisoners at California's San Quentin prison, who had been kept in prolonged solitary confinement, filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The plaintiffs sued the State of California, the San Quentin State Prison, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. They sought declaratory and injunctive relief, claiming violations of their Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

Specifically, the plaintiffs claimed that they were confined under inhumane and degrading conditions for excessively long periods of time, from three to twenty-six years, without meaningful review of their placement and hope of release. The plaintiffs claimed that they were deprived of basic human needs, suffered serious psychological and physical injury, coerced into providing information and subject to disproportionate punishment. Further, the plaintiffs claimed that they were placed in solitary confinement on the basis of allegations of gang affiliation without reliable evidence, when in fact they are not involved in any current gang activity.

On August 17, 2015, this case was reassigned to Judge Claudia Wilkens by judicial order, so that it could be related to another case raising similar issues, assigned to the same judge, Ashker v. Brown.

On September 8, 2015, the case was referred to Magistrate Judge Nandor J. Vadas for settlement and a settlement conference was set for October 28, 2015.

As of May 14, 2016, settlement negotiations are ongoing, and both parties continue to submit status reports.

Lakshmi Gopal - 05/15/2016


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Male
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process
Defendant-type
Corrections
Jurisdiction-wide
General
Administrative segregation
Classification / placement
Conditions of confinement
Disciplinary segregation
Grievance Procedures
Protective custody
Recreation / Exercise
Solitary confinement/Supermax (conditions or process)
Torture
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
State of California
Plaintiff Description Prisoners in prolonged solitary confinement
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
Case Listing PC-CA-0054 : Ashker v. Brown (N.D. Cal.)
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)
4:15-cv-02725-YGR (N.D. Cal.) 05/13/2016
PC-CA-0071-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint 06/17/2015
PC-CA-0071-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Stipulation and Order to Vacate and Re-Set Status Conference 04/19/2016 (N.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0071-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Bloomberg Law
Judges Vadas, Nandor J. (N.D. Cal.) [Magistrate]
PC-CA-0071-0002 | PC-CA-0071-9000
Wilken, Claudia Ann (N.D. Cal.) [Magistrate]
PC-CA-0071-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Johns, Emily Rose Naomi (California)
PC-CA-0071-0002 | PC-CA-0071-9000
Siegel, Daniel Mark (California)
PC-CA-0071-0001 | PC-CA-0071-9000
Weills, Anne Butterfield (New York)
PC-CA-0071-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Ciccotti, Christine Marie (California)
PC-CA-0071-0002 | PC-CA-0071-9000
Findley, Christopher Holmes (California)
PC-CA-0071-9000
Harris, Kamala D. (California)
PC-CA-0071-0002
O'Brien, Jillian Renee (California)
PC-CA-0071-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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