This case was brought in 1976 in the federal district court for the District of Maryland under Section 1983 by inmates at the Baltimore City Jail against both state and city officials of the Baltimore, Maryland prison system. The plaintiffs complained of overcrowding and conditions of confinement at the Baltimore City Jail, which resulted in a consent agreement setting capacity limitations, eliminating double-celling and providing other services.
In April 1981, the case was consolidated with Collins v. Schoonfield, another case involving the same jail that had earlier resulted in an interim decree setting standards of confinement. The decree was revised in 1984, 1986 and 1988. In 1991, the State assumed control of the Baltimore City Jail requiring further modifications to the decree. These modifications were agreed upon in the 1993 Revised Consolidation Decree. The 1993 decree established requirements for housing, inmate services, communications, access to courts, grievances and discipline. The decree also required the designation of a Director of Court Compliance to monitor the implementation of the decree. In 1994, the case was reassigned to Judge J. Frederick Motz under the new docket number 94-cv-02541. At some point prior to 1994, the National Prison Project of the ACLU agreed to represent plaintiffs.
In 2002, the plaintiffs filed a motion for a temporary restraining order to address the excessive heat at the Women's Detention Center of the Baltimore City Detention Center. On August 16, 2002, Judge Andre M. Davis granted a temporary restraining order addressing the issue. On August 22, 2002, Judge Motz issued a consent order that required the defendants to implement a "comprehensive protocol for intake screening to identify detainees who are susceptible to heat-related injury."
In late 2003, the plaintiffs asked the court to restore the case to the active docket. Thereafter, on April 23, 2004, the defendants filed a renewed motion to terminate the revised consolidated decree. On August 31, 2004, Judge Motz restored the case to the active docket. Subsequently, the parties began conducting discovery and preparing for a hearing with regard to the defendants' motion. The parties acknowledged that the defendants had made improvements, such as the air conditioning at the Women's Detention Center, and that the parties desired and expected further improvements.
In 2009, the parties reached a partial settlement agreement (PSA), and Judge Motz approved the agreement on November 10, 2009. The agreement covered all areas of dispute, except for how to protect detainees with high security or high-medium security classifications from heat injury. The parties agreed to let the court resolve that issue. On April 6, 2010, Judge Motz approved the final partial settlement agreement (PSA).
In 2011, the case was reassigned to Judge Ellen Lipton Hollander, who approved an amendment to the partial settlement on May 8, 2012, settling all of the substantive matters and conditionally dismissing the case. On April 7, 2014, Judge Hollander denied the plaintiff's motion that the defendants were liable for the plaintiffs' attorneys' fees. Duvall v. O'Malley, 2014 WL 1379787 (D. Md. Apr. 7, 2014).
The PSA provided that, if the defendants failed to achieve compliance with its substantive agreements, Plaintiffs could file a motion to reopen the case within two years of the time of court approval. The PSA allows the defendants to oppose a reopening of the case, but only on the ground that the defendants had achieved compliance with its contested provisions. Under the amended PSA, the time for the plaintiffs to file a motion to reopen was June 30, 2013. But later, the parties stipulated to extensions of the PSA to June 3, 2015; the court approved those extensions on April 10, 2014, and March 24, 2015.
On October 23, 2014, the plaintiffs filed a notice of noncompliance, formally informing the defendants of their contention that the jail remained noncompliant with the agreement, and entering into settlement discussions. No settlement was forthcoming, and on June 2, 2015, the day before the expiration of their right to reopen, the plaintiffs filed a motion to reopen the case, restore it to the active docket, and grant a preliminary injunction compelling improvements in several areas posing acute dangers to prisoner safety. The plaintiffs alleged a litany of noncompliant incidents, and argued that the failures not only violated the PSA but also the Eighth Amendment.
The parties entered in settlement talks and asked the court to stay the proceedings in the case. On October 26, 2015, the court (Judge Ellen L. Hollander) granted the parties' motion to stay.
On December 23, 2015, the parties reached a settlement agreement and submitted it to the court for approval. Under the settlement, Maryland agreed to overhaul the jail’s health care system and make major improvements to the facilities, including accommodations for people with disabilities. To ensure compliance with the settlement, the parties agreed that the jail’s progress would be assessed by independent monitors. The Court would dismiss the case when all the requirements have been met, or in four years unless the Court finds that jail conditions still violate federal law. The defendants also agreed to pay $450,000 in attorney's fees and costs to the plaintiffs.
On January 4, 2016, the court preliminarily approved the settlement, and on June 28, 2016, the court approved the final settlement and attorneys' fees and costs. The court closed the case, subject to reopening as provided in the settlement agreement. Eoghan Keenan - 05/25/2005
Jessica Kincaid - 04/01/2016
Abigail DeHart - 10/22/2016