Inmates at Rikers Island in New York brought a class action lawsuit in the Supreme Court of New York County, New York (state court), against jail officials, for violations of the state constitution and state mental health statutes. The inmates proposed defining the class as themselves and all other current and future inmates confined in the City Jails for more than 24 hours, who during their confinement receive treatment for mental illness. The inmates moved for a preliminary injunction enjoining the defendants to provide the class with adequate discharge planning in compliance with the state constitution and statutes.
On July 12, 2000, the court (Judge Richard Braun) held that the inmates could be certified as a class, but that the definition of the class was to be narrowed so as to only include those who would be entitled to treatment under state law. Brad H. v. City of New York, 712 N.Y.S.2d 336 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2000). The court also held that the inmate class was entitled to the preliminary injunction, enjoining the defendants to provide adequate discharge planning in accordance with state law. The defendants appealed and on October 31, 2000 the Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division (Judge P.J. Sullivan) affirmed the decision of the lower court. Brad H. v City of New York, 716 N.Y.S.2d 852 (N.Y. App. Div. 2000). On March 1, 2001, the Appellate Division denied the defendants' leave to appeal to the Court of Appeals.
The inmates filed a motion for contempt alleging that the officials failed to comply with the preliminary injunction. In connection with the motion for contempt, the inmates filed a motion for various items of discovery including medical records of inmates. On June 26, 2001 the Supreme Court (Judge Braun) ordered that the records be turned over to the court by July 9, 2001. Brad H. v. City of New York, 729 N.Y.S2d 348 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2001).
The parties settled and the court approved the settlement agreement after a fairness hearing. The settlement required that class members eligible for reactivation of Medicaid benefits be reactivated as of the later of the release date or the date pre-screening was completed, and provided for court appointed monitors.
The defendants moved to have the settlement modified so that the reactivation would be required the later of the release date or seven days after the pre-screening was completed. On November 12, 2003 the court (Judge Braun) found that the current settlement would force the defendants to act illegally under state law, and therefore modified the settlement to be in compliance with state law. Brad H. v. City of New York, No. 117882/99, 2003 WL 22721558 (N.Y. Sup. Nov. 12, 2003).
A year or so later the defendants moved for an order declaring that the monitors were not permitted to asses their performance with regards to inmates in the forensic units at state mental hospitals because they were not covered by the settlement agreement. On April 18, 2005, the court (Judge Braun) denied the motion. Brad H. v. City of New York, 801 N.Y.S.2d 230 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2005). The court held that the settlement was not ambiguous and clearly covered the inmates in the forensic units at the mental hospitals.
Implementation proceeded, though the monitors' reports demonstrate substantial compliance difficulties. In April 2007, four years into the five-year period covered by the settlement, Class Counsel notified the City that the plaintiffs believed Defendants had failed to comply with the terms of the settlement, and that unless remedial actions cured those failures, plaintiffs planned to return to Court for enforcement. A hearing was held in the City Council on the topic.
As of May 2009, the docket sheet reveals only subsequent status conferences; the case is ongoing.
[Pending update, here's what the AP reported on April 18:
Justice Geoffrey Wright extended the requirements of the 2003 settlement agreement another two years, told the city to fill clinical and nonclinical staff positions and asked them to implement a plan to review how well the discharge process was working. Wright also ruled that the city must better coordinate clinical staff who treat inmates and staff who plan an inmate's discharge.
The settlement was reached in 2003 but the inmates' lawyers brought a motion in 2009, when it was set to expire, arguing the city wasn't following portions of it.
In 2011, an appeals court ruled against the city, which had argued the 2009 motion was filed after the settlement had expired. Plaintiff's attorneys argued again in 2012 that the settlement should be enforced.]Kristen Sagar - 05/02/2009