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Case Name Harris v. McCarthy PC-CA-0027
Docket / Court 81-6429 ( C.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
On December 22, 1981, the plaintiffs, past and present inmates at the California Men's Colony (CMC), filed suit against prison officials in the United States District Court for the Central District of California. The plaintiffs sought injunctive and monetary relief for violations of their civil ... read more >
On December 22, 1981, the plaintiffs, past and present inmates at the California Men's Colony (CMC), filed suit against prison officials in the United States District Court for the Central District of California. The plaintiffs sought injunctive and monetary relief for violations of their civil rights. The plaintiffs specifically sought: to enjoin the defendants from allowing inmates to use toxic products in their cells; to require the defendants to provide safety equipment and proper ventilation throughout the CMC, particularly in the CMC Shoe Factory; to compel the defendants' compliance with health and safety regulations; to enjoin the defendants from interfering with the plaintiffs' legal correspondence; and to obtain monetary relief for injuries or death resulting from exposure to harmful materials.

On December 21, 1982, the District Court (Judge Edward Rafeedie) issued a preliminary injunction restricting the distribution of the harmful products in residential areas, and enjoining the defendants from interfering with the plaintiffs' legal correspondence.

On July 2, 1984, the plaintiffs moved to dismiss the case so that they could bring a single trial of all the issues in state court. The District Court granted the motion without prejudice, and dissolved the preliminary injunction. By this time, the defendants had improved the CMC Shoe Factory by installing new vents, repairing equipment, posting warnings, and procuring organic masks for use by inmates.

On October 1, 1984, the plaintiffs filed a Section 1988 motion for attorney's fees. The District Court awarded the plaintiffs partial attorney's fees, including $26,275.00 for the preliminary injunction and $2,910.05 for the Section 1988 motion. The District Court rejected the plaintiffs' request for additional attorney's fees on their claim that the suit had been the cause of change in the CMC Shoe Factory. Plaintiffs appealed.

In 1986, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Judges Eugene A. Wright, Dorothy W. Nelson, and Alex Kozinski) affirmed. Writing for the court, Judge Nelson held that the District Court did not abuse its discretion in declining to award attorney's fees under the ""catalyst-for-change"" theory on the basis of its determination that the issue was not ripe, where the plaintiffs' claims for injunctive relief and damages were being pursued in state court. Harris v. McCarthy, 790 F.2d 753 (9th Cir. 1986).

The docket for this case is unavailable on PACER so we have no information as to subsequent proceedings or any other issue.

Chris Sullivan - 08/20/2005


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
General
Mail
Personal injury
Sanitation / living conditions
Totality of conditions
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. 1983
Defendant(s) California Men's Colony
Plaintiff Description past and present inmates at California Men's Colony
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement
Order Duration 1981 - 1986
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Civil Rights Injunctions Over Time: A Case Study of Jail and Prison Court Orders
By: Margo Schlanger (University of Michigan)
Citation: 81 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 550 (2006)
[ Detail ] [ 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)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
Reported Opinion 05/27/1986 (790 F.2d 753)
PC-CA-0027-0001 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Judges Nelson, Dorothy Wright (Ninth Circuit)
PC-CA-0027-0001
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Greenberg, Ronald M. (California)
PC-CA-0027-0001
Defendant's Lawyers Harrel, John (California)
PC-CA-0027-0001
Roeschke, Donald (California)
PC-CA-0027-0001
Other Lawyers None on record

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