On February 13, 1992, inmates at the Montana State Penitentiary filed a pro se lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Montana Department of Corrections in the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana. The plaintiffs alleged that their constitutional rights had been violated by poor medical care, dental care, and mental health care, overcrowding, fire hazards, environmental hazards, and security hazards, programming of prisoners, classification procedures, access to the prison for disabled inmates, and physical abuse by prison guards resulting in injury and death of inmates. On September 4, 1992, attorneys from the National Prison Project of the American Civil Liberties Union entered the case to represent the plaintiffs. On June 23, 1993, the district court (Magistrate Judge Leif B. Erickson) certified the plaintiffs as a class.
On October 28, 1994, the parties entered into a settlement agreement, and the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana (Judge Erickson) granted preliminary approval. The agreement covered the areas of medical staffing, tuberculosis screening for inmates, intake medical screening, sick call, access to medication, annual physicals for prisoners, eye care, dental care, mental health care, out of cell recreation, preventive maintenance for prison buildings, compliance with public health and fire codes, objective classification, development of a disciplinary handbook, priority for treatment programs, maximum security procedures, staff supervision and training procedures, a prison-wide intercom system, procedures for use of force, population caps, revision of good time statutes, additional administrative staff, annual review of treatment plans, coordination with the parole board, and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. On November 28, 1994, the U.S. Department of Justice filed notice of objections to the settlement agreement. On November 29, 1994, the district court (Judge Erickson) approved the settlement agreement.
On March 30, 1995, the plaintiffs asked the court to award them attorneys' fees and expenses. On November 9, 1995, the district court (Judge Erickson) ordered the defendants to pay $232,131.44 in attorneys' fees and expenses. Both the plaintiffs and the defendants appealed the award. On April 29, 1996, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit dismissed the appeals and affirmed the district court's decision, ordering both parties to pay their own costs on appeal.
On June 25, 1997, the defendants asked the court to dismiss the portions of the complaint dealing with the areas where they had already substantially complied with the settlement agreement. On August 1, 1997, the district court (Judge Erickson) found the defendants partially substantially compliant and granted the defendants' motion to dismiss in the areas of out of cell time, coordination with the parole board, annual review of treatment plans, priority for treatment programs, creation of a disciplinary handbook, use of force, revision of good time statutes, and additional administrative staff.
On October 9, 1998, the plaintiffs asked the court to award them reasonable attorneys' fees and expenses for the litigation period following the first award of attorneys' fees. On September 30, 1999, the district court (Judge Erickson) granted the plaintiffs' second request for attorneys' fees and expenses. The court ordered the plaintiffs to advise the court on how much additional billable time they had spent on the litigation. Langford v. Racicot, 1999 WL 33208662 (D.Mont. Sept. 30, 1999). On February 29, 2000, the parties advised the court that the motion for attorneys' fees had been resolved privately, and that all plaintiff parties had been paid.
Earlier, on January 27, 1999, the district court (Judge Erickson) held that the defendants were substantially compliant in all areas except the tuberculosis screening, and the court dismissed those complaints accordingly. On September 9, 1999, these issues were dismissed as well.
On June 24, 2013, plaintiffs moved for specific performance under the settlement agreement, claiming that defendants were not in compliance with the agreement's ADA provision. And, on November 11, 2013, Magistrate Judge Jeremiah C. Lynch, now monitoring the case, granted the parties' stipulated motion to extend the monitoring period. The parties were to submit a final list of remaining issues by March 2014, but have not done so as of December 2014. Kristen Sagar - 08/02/2007
Alex Wharton - 12/02/2014