University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name West v. Redman PC-DE-0002
Docket / Court 78-14 ( D. Del. )
State/Territory Delaware
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
The plaintiff, an inmate at the Delaware Correctional Center, brought suit in 1978, seeking damages under Section 1983 and alleging physical and psychological mistreatment by prison guards and officials. The plaintiff was subsequently certified as a class representative. The complaint was filed ... read more >
The plaintiff, an inmate at the Delaware Correctional Center, brought suit in 1978, seeking damages under Section 1983 and alleging physical and psychological mistreatment by prison guards and officials. The plaintiff was subsequently certified as a class representative. The complaint was filed pro se, but a Community Legal Aid Society, Inc. (CLASI) attorney took on the case and filed an amended class action complaint seeking injunctive relief against disciplinary procedures at the prison that allegedly violated the due process clause. In January 1980, the attorney left the legal services organization for private practice but continued his representation. In April 1980, the night before trial, plaintiff's damage claim was settled and the class claim for injunctive relief was provisionally settled.

In December 1980, the remaining matters in the case were referred to Magistrate Richard Powers. One of the issues remaining was the award of fees to the Plaintiff's attorney. Magistrate Powers determined that $52,714 was a reasonable attorney's fee. Defendants challenged the part of the calculation that increased a lodestar by both a contingency and a quality factor.

District Judge Stapleton first determined that a Magistrate's Order awarding statutory attorney's fees involves the disposition of a prisoners' petition and therefore subject to a de novo determination. West v. Redman, 530 F.Supp 546 (D. Del. 1982). Defendants first argued that plaintiff's attorney, who worked for a non-profit organization, should not be eligible for the contingency fee increase contending it should only be applied when a firm assumes a substantial financial risk by undertaking the case. The court held that the magistrate was not foreclosed from applying a contingency factor because, like for-profit firms, non-profits have to make decisions based on a cost benefit analysis and the availability of receiving contingency fees encourages them to take on ''harder'' cases they might otherwise turn down. Defendants next argued that plaintiff's attorney should not be eligible for the contingency fee for the time he was in private practice as plaintiff's chances of success were almost certain at that point. The court held that contingency of success is to be determined at the beginning of a case, and should not be modified at different stages. Finally with respect to the challenged quality factor, the court held that the adjustment was not justified as the record did not prove that plaintiff's attorney possessed an unusual degree of skill. The opinion does not state what the newly calculated attorney fee is, but it is presumably $52,714 less the quality factor of ten percent of the lodestar ($28,494) or $49,865.

A PACER docket begins in 1991 with a plaintiffs' request for permission to conduct limited discovery; a request that Magistrate Sue Robinson granted. There was apparently some kind of enforcement litigation that lasted the next two years; its outcome is unclear. Apparently she became a judge sometime in 1992, and the case was reassigned to her in that capacity. The docket ends with Judge Robinson's denial of defendants' motion for stay, denying defendants' motion for relief from judgment, but with no other indication of any substantive outcome; on the same date as those denials (June 30, 1993), the case is marked ""closed.""

Sherrie Waldrup - 09/12/2005


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
General
Assault/abuse by staff
Disciplinary procedures
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983
Defendant(s) Delaware Correctional Center
Plaintiff Description inmates at the Delaware Correctional Center
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 Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1980 - n/a
Case Closing Year 1993
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
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)
78-14 (D. Del.) 06/30/1993
PC-DE-0002-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Opinion 01/11/1982 (530 F.Supp. 546) (D. Del.)
PC-DE-0002-0001 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Judges Robinson, Sue Lewis (D. Del.)
PC-DE-0002-9000
Stapleton, Walter King (D. Del., Third Circuit)
PC-DE-0002-0001
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Shachtman, Douglas A. (Delaware)
PC-DE-0002-0001 | PC-DE-0002-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Kafader, Edward F. (Delaware)
PC-DE-0002-0001
Lewis, Lawrence (Delaware)
PC-DE-0002-9000
Welch, John K. (Delaware)
PC-DE-0002-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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