University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Austin v. Haley PC-AL-0004
Docket / Court 2:95-cv-00637 ( M.D. Ala. )
State/Territory Alabama
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Special Collection Post-PLRA Jail and Prison Private Settlement Agreements
Attorney Organization Southern Poverty Law Center
Case Summary
On May 15, 1995 inmates in the Alabama State Prison System filed a class action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Alabama Department of Corrections (DOC) and the Governor of Alabama. Plaintiffs were represented by the ... read more >
On May 15, 1995 inmates in the Alabama State Prison System filed a class action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Alabama Department of Corrections (DOC) and the Governor of Alabama. Plaintiffs were represented by the Southern Poverty Law Center and private attorneys. The lawsuit challenged several policies and practices within the state prison system, including the failure to provide adequate toilet facilities to inmates on work squad. The DOC had implemented a policy where inmates on work squad were chained together in a "chain gang" and not provided with sufficient toilet facilities or facilities to wash their hands. They also remained chained together while using the facilities. On June 19, 1996, the parties stipulated that chaining the inmates together was no longer a practice of the DOC. That stipulation also dismissed the governor as a defendant.

The parties entered a settlement agreement and the district court (Judge Myron H. Thompson) approved the agreement on August 10, 1998. Austin v. Hopper, 15 F.Supp.2d 1210 (M.D.Ala. 1998). According to the settlement agreement, the DOC would provide soap, water, and toilet paper and increase the number of toilets available. The court ordered the parties to file notice of the settlement to class members and provide a form for members to file their objections. The parties filed this notice on September 8, 1998 and the court approved it on September 22, 1998. On December 7, 1998, the court approved the settlement agreement and dismissed the claim. Austin v. Hopper, 28 F.Supp.2d 1231 (M.D.Ala. 1998).

Over the next five years, litigation continued regarding other practices of the DOC and attorneys' fees. On February 28, 2003, Magistrate Judge Susan R. Walker ordered mediation. On September 30, 2003, Judge Myron H. Thompson awarded plaintiffs $213,471.99. However, as of November 7, 2014, the court has still inexplicably failed to enter the judgement.

Angela Heverling - 05/18/2006
Richard Jolly - 11/06/2014


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
General
Bathing and hygiene
Restraints : physical
Sanitation / living conditions
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Alabama Department of Corrections
Governor of Alabama
Plaintiff Description inmates in the Alabama Prison System
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Southern Poverty Law Center
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 Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Private Settlement Agreement
Order Duration 1998 - n/a
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)
95-T-637-N (M.D. Ala.) 06/07/2013
PC-AL-0004-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Stipulation 06/19/1996
PC-AL-0004-0001.pdf | Detail
Recommendation of the Magistrate Judge 01/28/1997 (M.D. Ala.)
PC-AL-0004-0002.pdf | Detail
Memorandum Opinion 08/10/1998 (15 F.Supp.2d 1210) (M.D. Ala.)
PC-AL-0004-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Memorandum Opinion 12/07/1998 (28 F.Supp.2d 1231) (M.D. Ala.)
PC-AL-0004-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Renewed Motion for Pending Attorney's Fees 09/30/2010
PC-AL-0004-0006.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges McPherson, Vanzetta Penn (M.D. Ala.) [Magistrate]
PC-AL-0004-0002 | PC-AL-0004-9000
Thompson, Myron Herbert (N.D. Ala., M.D. Ala.)
PC-AL-0004-0004 | PC-AL-0004-0005 | PC-AL-0004-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bowden, Ellen M. (Alabama)
PC-AL-0004-0001 | PC-AL-0004-0004 | PC-AL-0004-0005 | PC-AL-0004-9000
Brownstein, Rhonda C. (Alabama)
PC-AL-0004-0001 | PC-AL-0004-0004 | PC-AL-0004-0005 | PC-AL-0004-9000
Cohen, J. Richard (Alabama)
PC-AL-0004-0001 | PC-AL-0004-0004 | PC-AL-0004-0005 | PC-AL-0004-0006 | PC-AL-0004-9000
Dees, Morris S. Jr. (Alabama)
PC-AL-0004-0001 | PC-AL-0004-0004 | PC-AL-0004-0005 | PC-AL-0004-9000
Haber, Roy S. (Oregon)
PC-AL-0004-0004 | PC-AL-0004-0005 | PC-AL-0004-9000
Stadeker, Marcia Bull (Alabama)
PC-AL-0004-0004 | PC-AL-0004-0005 | PC-AL-0004-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Addison, William F. (Alabama)
PC-AL-0004-0004 | PC-AL-0004-9000
Allen, Edward Smith (Alabama)
PC-AL-0004-0004 | PC-AL-0004-0005 | PC-AL-0004-9000
Butler, Albert Sims (Alabama)
PC-AL-0004-0004 | PC-AL-0004-0005 | PC-AL-0004-9000
Gray, William Patton Jr. (Alabama)
PC-AL-0004-0004 | PC-AL-0004-0005 | PC-AL-0004-9000
Hosp, Edward Andrew (Alabama)
PC-AL-0004-9000
Laurie, Robin Garrett (Alabama)
PC-AL-0004-0001 | PC-AL-0004-0004 | PC-AL-0004-0005 | PC-AL-0004-9000
Pope, Nathan DeWayne (Alabama)
PC-AL-0004-0004 | PC-AL-0004-0005 | PC-AL-0004-9000
Redd, Andrew Weldon (Alabama)
PC-AL-0004-0001 | PC-AL-0004-0004 | PC-AL-0004-0005 | PC-AL-0004-9000
Thomas, Kim Tobias (Alabama)
PC-AL-0004-0004 | PC-AL-0004-0005 | PC-AL-0004-9000
Other Lawyers Ott, Ann Ashton Holmes (Alabama)
PC-AL-0004-9000

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