University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name Ashker v. California Department of Corrections PC-CA-0014
Docket / Court 97-1109 ( N.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Prison Conditions
Case Summary
On April 1, 1997, a prisoner housed in the Security Housing Unit at Pelican Bay State Prison in California filed this lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, Oakland Division. The plaintiff sued under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the California Department ... read more >
On April 1, 1997, a prisoner housed in the Security Housing Unit at Pelican Bay State Prison in California filed this lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, Oakland Division. The plaintiff sued under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the California Department of Corrections (DOC) and prison officials. The plaintiff, at first represented by himself and later by private counsel, asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging violations of his rights under the First and Eighth Amendments, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Rehabilitation Act, and asserting state law claims of medical malpractice and negligence. Specifically, the plaintiff contended that the prison's requirement that books received from vendors have "approved vendor labels" violated his First Amendment rights, and that the prison's denial of physical therapy, a handball, an escort with waist-chains and treatment for a protruding bone violated his Eighth Amendment rights.

Previously, it appears that there had been substantial litigation between these parties stemming from an incident in 1990 where a prison guard shot the plaintiff and the defendants subsequently failed to treat his injury, resulting in a disabling condition. After a jury verdict for the plaintiff, on October 18, 1995, the District Court (Judge Claudia A. Wilken) had entered judgment for the plaintiff on state tort claims. On appeal, on April 18, 1997, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (Judge David R. Thompson) affirmed. Ashker v. California Dept. of Corrections, 112 F.3d 392 (9th Cir. 1997). On October 6, 1997, the Supreme Court denied certiorari in that case. Brodeur v. Ashker, 522 U.S. 863 (1997).

In the instant case, on September 30, 1999, the District Court (Judge Wilken) granted in part and denied in part the defendants' summary judgment motion. The Court denied summary judgment respecting the plaintiff's First Amendment book label claim, concluding that there were disputes of material fact as to whether the plaintiff's First Amendment right to receive books was overly burdened by the book label policy.

On December 3, 1999, the District Court (Judge Wilken) granted in part and denied in part the plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction. In the injunction, the Court ordered the defendants to provide the plaintiff with a properly fitting arm brace.

The parties then attended a series of court ordered settlement conferences before Magistrate Judge Elizabeth D. Laporte.

On July 26, 2000, the District Court (Judge Wilken) dismissed the plaintiff's outgoing mail claim without prejudice.

On January 18, 2001, the District Court (Judge Wilken) granted in part and denied in part the defendants' renewed summary judgment motion. The Court denied summary judgment on the plaintiff's First Amendment, Eighth Amendment, and state law claims.

On August 21, 2001, the District Court (Judge Wilken) denied the plaintiff's request to hold the defendants in contempt for violating the December 3, 1999, injunction respecting the arm brace.

On September 11, 2002, the District Court (Judge Wilken) granted the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment on the First Amendment claim, and issued a permanent injunction. Ashker v. Cal. Dep't of Corr., 224 F.Supp.2d 1253 (N.D. Cal. 2002). The Court held that the book label requirement was not rationally related to a legitimate penological interest, and permanently enjoined the defendants from enforcing the label requirement at Pelican Bay State Prison. The defendants appealed.

On November 18, 2003, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (Judge A. Wallace Tashima) affirmed the District Court's decision. The Court held that the book label policy was not rationally related to the need to prevent contraband, and that the injunction was not overly intrusive and was closely tied to the identified violation. Ashker v. Cal. Dep't of Corr., 350 F.3d 917 (9th Cir. 2003).

Apparently there was a settlement agreement with respect to the other claims, over which the District Court was to retain jurisdiction. According to the docket, proceedings continued through March 2005, regarding enforcement of the settlement agreement.

On April 20, 2007, the court related this case with Prison Legal News v. Schwarzenegger, 4:07-cv-02058, PC-CA-0035.

Note that this case has the same plaintiff's name (and the same plaintiff) as Ashker v. Brown, PC-CA-0054 in this Clearinghouse. But that case started years later, and is about solitary confinement.

Josh Altman - 06/28/2006
Jessica Kincaid - 04/09/2016


compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Issues
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Mail
Restraints : physical
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
Defendant(s) California Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description State prisoners challenging prison requirement that books received from vendors have special shipping labels attached as violative of their First Amendment rights
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted Unknown
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 - 2004
Case Closing Year 2004
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing PC-CA-0054 : Ashker v. Brown (N.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0035 : Prison Legal News v. Schwarzenegger (N.D. Cal.)
Additional Resources
click to show/hide detail
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)
97-1109 (N.D. Cal.) 10/19/2004
PC-CA-0014-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Opinion 04/18/1997 (112 F.3d 392)
PC-CA-0014-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Denial of Certiorari 10/06/1997 (522 U.S. 863)
PC-CA-0014-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Order Granting Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and Permanent Injunction 09/11/2002 (224 F.Supp.2d 1253) (N.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0014-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Opinion 11/18/2003 (350 F.3d 917)
PC-CA-0014-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Judges Laporte, Elizabeth D. (N.D. Cal.) [Magistrate]
PC-CA-0014-9000
Tashima, Atsushi Wallace (Ninth Circuit, C.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0014-0002
Thompson, David R. (Ninth Circuit)
PC-CA-0014-0003
Wilken, Claudia Ann (N.D. Cal.) [Magistrate]
PC-CA-0014-0005 | PC-CA-0014-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Franck, Herman A.D. V (California)
PC-CA-0014-0002 | PC-CA-0014-0003 | PC-CA-0014-0005 | PC-CA-0014-9000
Gargaro, Stephen T. (California)
PC-CA-0014-0003 | PC-CA-0014-0005 | PC-CA-0014-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Jorgenson, Michael W. (California)
PC-CA-0014-9000
Lee, Susan Duncan (California)
PC-CA-0014-9000
Mather, Scott C. (California)
PC-CA-0014-0005 | PC-CA-0014-9000
Prince, George D. (California)
PC-CA-0014-0003
Walston, Gregory S. (California)
PC-CA-0014-0002
Other Lawyers None on record

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -