University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Shaw v. Allen JC-WV-0001
Docket / Court 81-1008 ( S.D. W. Va. )
State/Territory West Virginia
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Special Collection Court-ordered receiverships
Case Summary
In 1981, inmates at McDowell County Jail in West Virginia filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia against McDowell County Commissioners and Sheriff claiming constitutional violations in the jail. Plaintiffs ... read more >
In 1981, inmates at McDowell County Jail in West Virginia filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the United States District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia against McDowell County Commissioners and Sheriff claiming constitutional violations in the jail. Plaintiffs were represented by Appalachian Research and Defense Fund and private attorneys. A comprehensive order was entered on April 11, 1983 enjoining the defendants from operating the jail in a manner that violated the Constitution and specifying actions to be taken to bring the jail into compliance. Plaintiffs initiated contempt proceedings several times throughout the 1980s. The district court responded by ordering inspections and appointing a monitor. The monitor reported that defendants were not complying with the order.

On December 26, 1990, the district court (Judge Elizabeth Hallahan) held that the consistent failure of defendants to improve jail conditions warranted the year-long appointment of a receiver to bring the prison into compliance. Shaw v. Allen, 771 F.Supp. 760 (S.D.W.Va. 1990). The court appointed Professor James McCoy of Marshall University as receiver and he was granted all the authority held by the County Commissioners and Sheriff in running the jail.

The PACER docket provides information on proceedings since 1993. On February 2, 1993, Judge Hallahan signed an order agreed to by the parties enjoining defendants from paying off correctional officers, reducing jail staff, closing the jail's third floor, or ceasing to house female inmates. The order also noted that defendants agreed that the County Commissioners would be responsible for the conditions of the jail and the sheriff would have no further responsibility. On October 21, 1993, Judge Hallahan appointed a monitor to make monthly inspections of the jail. On November 2, 1994, an order directed defendants to take specific actions including providing medical training for correctional officers, improving fire safety systems, and developing a medical plan. The order also directed defendants to post the order in the jail. Proceedings continued regarding the monitor's fees until he was released from his duties on April 15, 1997.

Angela Heverling - 04/24/2006


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Content of Injunction
Receivership
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Fire safety
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) McDowell County
Plaintiff Description Plaintiffs are inmates at McDowell County Jail in West Virginia.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration 1983 - n/a
Case Closing Year n/a
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)
81-1008 (S.D. W. Va.) 04/15/1997
JC-WV-0001-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Order 12/26/1990 (771 F.Supp. 760) (S.D. W. Va.)
JC-WV-0001-0003 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Judges Hallanan, Elizabeth Virginia (S.D. W. Va.)
JC-WV-0001-0003 | JC-WV-0001-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Baker, Robert S. (West Virginia)
JC-WV-0001-9000
Googel, Norman (West Virginia)
JC-WV-0001-0003 | JC-WV-0001-9000
Sitler, George (West Virginia)
JC-WV-0001-9000
Whitelaw, John S. (West Virginia)
JC-WV-0001-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Bell, Sidney H. (West Virginia)
JC-WV-0001-9000
Hall, Sarah N. (West Virginia)
JC-WV-0001-0003 | JC-WV-0001-9000
Other Lawyers Binder, Janice (West Virginia)
JC-WV-0001-9000

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