University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name John Doe v. District of Columbia PC-DC-0007
Docket / Court 1:79-cv-01726-WBB ( D.D.C. )
State/Territory District of Columbia
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
On July 3, 1979, inmates at the Lorton Maximum Security Facility in Lorton, Virginia, filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the District of Columbia in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The plaintiffs asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief, ... read more >
On July 3, 1979, inmates at the Lorton Maximum Security Facility in Lorton, Virginia, filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the District of Columbia in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The plaintiffs asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging that their constitutional rights had been violated by exposure to the danger of violent assault and sexual abuse, understaffing, insufficient security procedures, inadequate classification procedures, and poor physical facilities.

The case was submitted to a jury, who ruled in favor of the plaintiffs. The jury awarded to each member of the class one dollar for each day of their confinement between July 4, 1976 and June 20, 1980. The district court (Judge William B. Bryant) supplemented that award with an injunction designed to ameliorate the conditions of confinement at the facility. The defendants appealed.

On January 11, 1983, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (Judge June L. Green) reversed and remanded the case, holding that: 1) the district court had abused its discretion in issuing a protective order forbidding disclosure by the defense counsel to defendants of information of specified sorts obtained during discovery; 2) the trial judge erred by not giving the jury an instruction foreclosing an interpretation of plaintiffs' counsel's closing argument that might have implied that the District of Columbia was legally responsible for the consequences of unauthorized actions of individual prison guards; and 3) the trial court committed reversible error in granting jury permission to compensate the prisoners for the value of their violated constitutional rights. Doe v. District of Columbia, 697 F.2d 1115 (D.D.C. 1983). Separate statements by Judges McKinnon, Edwards and Robb relative to this decision were subsequently filed. Doe v. District of Columbia, 701 F.2d 948 D.D.C. 1983)

On August 13, 1986, the district court (Judge Green) issued an order setting population caps for the prisons in question in the case. The defendants asked the court to stay the order, and on May 20, 1987, the court temporarily stayed the order pending further investigation. Doe v. District of Columbia, Nos. 79-1726, 80-2136, 86-2128, 1987 WL 11422 (D.D.C. May 20, 1987). On June 30, 1987, the district court further stayed the order. Doe v. District of Columbia, Nos. 79-1726, 80-2136, 86-2128, 1987 WL 13350 (D.D.C. June 30, 1987).

At some point before 1989, the parties entered into a partial consent decree in the case. On July 26, 1996, the parties entered into another consent decree concerning medical and mental healthcare for the prisoners and the court approved it.

On May 6, 2002, the defendants informed the district court that the facility in question had been permanently closed and asked the court to dismiss the case. On May 7, 2002, the district court (Judge William B. Bryant) granted the motion and dismissed the case.

Kristen Sagar - 09/29/2006

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Crowding / caseload
Assault/abuse by residents/inmates/students
Assault/abuse by staff
Classification / placement
Disciplinary procedures
Fire safety
Personal injury
Sanitation / living conditions
Sexual abuse by residents/inmates
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Totality of conditions
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Mental health care, general
Type of Facility
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) District of Columbia
Occoquan I, II, III
Plaintiff Description inmates at the Lorton Maximum Security Facility in Lorton, Virginia
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 Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1996 - 2002
Case Closing Year 2002
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing PC-DC-0010 : U.S. v. District of Columbia (D.D.C.)
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 ]

79-1726 (D.D.C.) 06/26/2003
PC-DC-0007-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Separate Opinion 01/28/1983 (701 F.2d 948)
PC-DC-0007-0007 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Reported Opinion 03/07/1983 (697 F.2d 1115)
PC-DC-0007-0006 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Order 08/13/1986 (D.D.C.)
PC-DC-0007-0001 PDF | Detail
Order 05/20/1987 (1987 WL 11422) (D.D.C.)
PC-DC-0007-0008 PDF | WESTLAW | Detail
Order 06/30/1987 (1987 WL 13350) (D.D.C.)
PC-DC-0007-0009 PDF | WESTLAW | Detail
Consent Motion for the adoption of a Consent Order concerning systemwide medical and mental health care 07/26/1996
PC-DC-0007-0002 PDF | Detail
Consent Order 07/26/1996 (D.D.C.)
PC-DC-0007-0003 PDF | Detail
Consent Order 05/07/2002 (D.D.C.)
PC-DC-0007-0005 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Bryant, William Benson (D.D.C.)
PC-DC-0007-0005 | PC-DC-0007-9000
Edwards, Harry Thomas (D.C. Circuit)
Green, June Lazenby (D.D.C.)
PC-DC-0007-0001 | PC-DC-0007-0002 | PC-DC-0007-0003 | PC-DC-0007-0008 | PC-DC-0007-0009
MacKinnon, George Edward (FISCR, D.C. Circuit)
Monitors/Masters Schneider, Karen M. (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0007-0005 | PC-DC-0007-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Adams, Stuart H. Jr. (District of Columbia)
Bass, Ellen S (New Jersey)
PC-DC-0007-0006 | PC-DC-0007-0007
Fisher, Joseph M. (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0007-0006 | PC-DC-0007-0007
Kindall, Clare E. (Connecticut)
Kolb, Charles E.M. (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0007-0006 | PC-DC-0007-0007
Labson, Michael S. (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0007-0002 | PC-DC-0007-9000
Lasker, Eric G. (District of Columbia)
Nickles, Peter J. (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0007-0002 | PC-DC-0007-0006 | PC-DC-0007-0007 | PC-DC-0007-9000
Pemberton, Alan A. (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0007-0002 | PC-DC-0007-0003 | PC-DC-0007-0005 | PC-DC-0007-9000
Smith, Jonathan Mark (District of Columbia)
Defendant's Lawyers Facciola, John M. (District of Columbia)
Love, Richard Stuart (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0007-0003 | PC-DC-0007-0005 | PC-DC-0007-9000
Quander, Paul A. Jr. (District of Columbia)
Reischel, Charles L. (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0007-0006 | PC-DC-0007-0007
Rogers, Judith Ann Wilson (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0007-0006 | PC-DC-0007-0007
Schwab, Edward E. (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0007-0006 | PC-DC-0007-0007
Sutton, David P. (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0007-0006 | PC-DC-0007-0007
Utiger, Robert C. (District of Columbia)
Zielinski, Michael Edward (California)
PC-DC-0007-0006 | PC-DC-0007-0007 | PC-DC-0007-9000
Other Lawyers Hacala, Martin G. (District of Columbia)
Lopes, Grace Michele (District of Columbia)

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