University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Zolnowski v. County of Erie JC-NY-0009
Docket / Court 95-CV-774A ( W.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Case Summary
On September 8, 1995, inmates at the Erie County Holding Center in Buffalo, New York filed a pro se class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York under 42 U.S.C. §1983 against the New York State Commission of Corrections and representatives of the jail. The ... read more >
On September 8, 1995, inmates at the Erie County Holding Center in Buffalo, New York filed a pro se class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York under 42 U.S.C. §1983 against the New York State Commission of Corrections and representatives of the jail. The plaintiff class alleged that their constitutional rights had been violated by overcrowding at the jail. The plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as monetary damages.

On October 3, 1996, the U.S. District Court for the (Magistrate Judge Leslie G. Foschio) held that the plaintiffs' rights had been violated by overcrowding at the jail, and that the evidence established wantonness by the jail officials. However, the court stayed injunctive relief for 60 days to allow the defendants to come into compliance with the constitutional standards. Zolnowski v. County of Erie, 944 F.Supp. 1096 (W.D.N.Y. 1996). Negotiations between the parties proceeded.

On September 24, 1997, the district court (Judge Foschio) approved a settlement agreement between the parties. The order noted that a number of conditions at the Jail, if left unabated, would violate the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments: lack of beds, cots, bedding or blankets, housing detainees in a overcrowded conditions, housing sentenced prisoners in chapels, resource rooms, etc except in emergency and housing female prisoners or detainees in the atrium area visible to those present in the exercise area. The order imposed reporting and notice requirements. On October 23, 1998, the case was closed.

On October 11, 2005, plaintiffs filed a motion seeking an expedited hearing concerning alleged violations of the court's order governing conditions at the jail. However, this motion was withdrawn two days later. As of November 5, 2014, there has been no further activity.

Kristen Sagar - 10/13/2006
Richard Jolly - 11/14/2014


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process
Equal Protection
Content of Injunction
Monitoring
Reporting
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
Defendant-type
Corrections
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Erie County Holding Center
Plaintiff Description inmates at the Erie County Holding Center in Buffalo, New York
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1997 - n/a
Case Closing Year 1998
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 ]

Docket(s)
95-CV-774A (W.D.N.Y.) 10/13/2005
JC-NY-0009-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Decision and Order 10/03/1996 (944 F.Supp. 1096) (W.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0009-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Stipulation and Order 09/24/1997 (W.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0009-0002.pdf | Detail
Judges Foschio, Leslie G. (W.D.N.Y., W.D.N.Y.) [Magistrate]
JC-NY-0009-0002 | JC-NY-0009-0003 | JC-NY-0009-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Haynes, Nan Lipsitz (New York)
JC-NY-0009-0002 | JC-NY-0009-0003 | JC-NY-0009-9000
Murray, Glenn Edward (New York)
JC-NY-0009-0002 | JC-NY-0009-0003 | JC-NY-0009-9000
Ziegler, John A. (New York)
JC-NY-0009-0002 | JC-NY-0009-0003 | JC-NY-0009-9000
Defendant's Lawyers McLeod, James A.W. (New York)
JC-NY-0009-0003 | JC-NY-0009-9000
Shoetz, Kenneth (New York)
JC-NY-0009-0002 | JC-NY-0009-0003
Visano, Ralph (New York)
JC-NY-0009-9000
Wheaton, Kristin Klein (New York)
JC-NY-0009-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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