University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Lucas v. White PC-CA-0009
Docket / Court 96-02905 ( N.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Attorney Organization Rosen, Bien, Galvan & Grunfeld
Case Summary
On August 13, 1996, three women either currently or previously incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institute in Dublin, California, filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, seeking money damages from individual federal corrections officers. ... read more >
On August 13, 1996, three women either currently or previously incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Institute in Dublin, California, filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, seeking money damages from individual federal corrections officers. On or around August 13, 1996, the plaintiffs also filed administrative claims against the United States under the Federal Torts Claim Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 1346(b) and 2671 et seq. The administrative claim was denied on July 25, 1997, and on October 1, 1997, the plaintiffs amended their Complaint to include claims against the United States and the prison officers in their official capacity. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, sought monetary damages for alleged sexual assaults, physical and sexual intimidation, verbal abuse, threats, sexual harassment, and invasions of privacy perpetrated or permitted by the Bureau of Prisons.

According to the plaintiffs, they had been temporarily housed at the Special Housing Unit at the Federal Detention Center (FDC) in Pleasanton, California in 1995, where they were inadequately separated from male inmates. There was so much contact between male and female inmates that male inmates had propositioned all of the women and one woman had been physically assaulted. Furthermore, corrections officers permitted male inmates to enter female inmates' cells in the middle of the night. All of the plaintiffs claimed to have been sexually assaulted and retaliated against for reporting the attacks. According to the plaintiffs, corrections officers also sexually harassed them, sometimes demanding sexual favors in return for basic necessities (e.g., prison-issued clothing).

On November 15, 1996, the parties agreed to mediate the lawsuit. The court (Chief Judge Thelton E. Henderson) appointed a neutral (Douglas R. Young) on November 27, 1996, and mediation began on December 16, 1996. The plaintiffs subsequently amended their complaint. On February 24, 1998, the parties signed a settlement agreement. The settlement negotiated was not a consent decree as defined by the Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and, therefore, was not judicially enforceable.

Under the terms of the settlement, the defendants admitted no wrongdoing, but agreed to take steps to minimize the risk of sexual abuse and assault of female inmates. First, the government agreed to cease placing female inmates at the Special Housing Unit at Pleasanton. Second, the government agreed to develop an implement a system to allow confidential reporting of sexual assaults. Third, the government agreed to develop and implement comprehensive training to address sexual assault, sexual interactions between inmates, sexual interactions between corrections officers and prisoners, sexual misconduct, and privacy issues particular to female inmates. The United States agreed to consult with an expert from the National Institute of Corrections (Andie Moss) when developing both orientation and refresher training. Fourth, the government agreed to financially compensate the plaintiffs for their own injuries. On March 23, 1998, the court dismissed all claims at the plaintiffs' request.

On April 14, 1999, the court awarded the plaintiffs attorneys' fees. Lucas v. White, 63 F. Supp. 2d 1046 (N.D. Cal. 1999). In doing so, the court rejected the defendants' arguments based on sovereign immunity, the definition of "prevailing party," the "substantial justification" of the United States' position in the litigation, and special circumstances making the award unjust. The United States appealed the court's ruling to the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, but that appeal was dismissed at the request of the appellant on March 20, 2000.

We have no information on the implementation or effects of the settlement agreement.

Elizabeth Chilcoat - 06/21/2006

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Affected Gender
Assault/abuse by residents/inmates/students
Assault/abuse by staff
Sex w/ staff; sexual harassment by staff
Sexual abuse by residents/inmates
Type of Facility
Causes of Action Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. § 2674
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Federal Correctional Institute, Dublin
Plaintiff Description Several individual women incarcerated in BOP facilities (Camp Parks, FDC-Pleasanton and FCI-Dublin who were sexually assaulted and harassed by both staff and male prisoners.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Rosen, Bien, Galvan & Grunfeld
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2000
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Beyond Parity and Equal Protection: Women Prisoner's Right Litigation in the 1990s
By: Julie Cho (Harvard)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ]

  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 ]

96-CV-2905 (N.D. Cal.) 04/14/2006
PC-CA-0009-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Damages and Injunctive Relief 08/13/1996
PC-CA-0009-0003 PDF | Detail
Amended Complaint for Damages and Injunctive Relief 10/01/1997
PC-CA-0009-0004 PDF | Detail
Private Settlement Agreement 02/11/1998
PC-CA-0009-0001 PDF | Detail
Lucas v. White Specialty Training Materials Volume I 07/21/1998
PC-CA-0009-0002 PDF | Detail
Order 04/14/1999 (63 F.Supp.2d 1046) (N.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0009-0005 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Judges Henderson, Thelton Eugene (N.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0009-0005 | PC-CA-0009-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bien, Michael W. (California)
PC-CA-0009-0001 | PC-CA-0009-0003 | PC-CA-0009-0004 | PC-CA-0009-0005 | PC-CA-0009-9000
Green, Geri L. (California)
PC-CA-0009-0001 | PC-CA-0009-0003 | PC-CA-0009-0004 | PC-CA-0009-0005 | PC-CA-0009-9000
Paikeday, M.J. Tony (California)
PC-CA-0009-0003 | PC-CA-0009-0005 | PC-CA-0009-9000
Petrine, Donna (California)
PC-CA-0009-0003 | PC-CA-0009-0005 | PC-CA-0009-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Goldberg, Helene M. (District of Columbia)
Hemann, John H. (California)
PC-CA-0009-0005 | PC-CA-0009-9000
Hunger, Frank W. (District of Columbia)
Pelletier, Nina S. (District of Columbia)
PC-CA-0009-0001 | PC-CA-0009-0005 | PC-CA-0009-9000
Sher, R. Joseph (District of Columbia)
Other Lawyers None on record

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