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Case Name Fisher v. Koehler PC-NY-0005
Docket / Court 83 Civ. 2128 ( S.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
On March 18, 1983, inmates filed a class action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Department of Corrections for the City of New York. The inmates challenged violent conditions at the New York City Correctional ... read more >
On March 18, 1983, inmates filed a class action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Department of Corrections for the City of New York. The inmates challenged violent conditions at the New York City Correctional Institution for Men. Plaintiffs were represented by the Legal Aid Society of New York City's Prisoners' Rights Project.

On July 13, 1988, following a lengthy trial, the district court (Judge Morris E. Lasker) found that violence at the facility by inmates and staff violated the Eighth Amendment. Fisher v. Koehler, 692 F.Supp. 1519 (S.D.N.Y. 1988). The court found that inadequate conditions in the facility, such as overcrowding, inadequate staff, problems with classification, and inadequate systems for reporting abuse, contributed to an environment where inmates suffered ongoing physical abuse. The court gave the defendants an opportunity to submit a plan to address the violations. Both parties submitted proposals and the court approved a decree on July 14, 1989. Fisher v. Koehler, 718 F.Supp. 1111 (S.D.N.Y. 1989). The decree included a new system of classification whereby violent or vulnerable inmates were housed separately, addressed overcrowding, and created a new policy regarding the use of force by staff. The decree also increased staffing and inmate supervision and provided for monitoring. Defendants sought approval for a new policy related to reporting uses of force. Judge Lasker approved the policy on November 8, 1989. Fisher v. Koehler, No. 83-2128, 1989 WL 135912 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 8, 1989).

On appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (per curium) upheld the district court's finding that the conditions in the facility were unconstitutional and held that the district court's remedy was reasonable. Fisher v. Koehler, 902 F.2d 2 (2d Cir. 1990).

Angela Heverling - 04/05/2006


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
General
Assault/abuse by residents/inmates/students
Assault/abuse by staff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Correctional Institutions for Men
Plaintiff Description prisoners of the State of New York
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1989 - n/a
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Unknown
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)
83-2128 (S.D.N.Y.) 03/18/1983
PC-NY-0005-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Plaintiffs' Proposed Remedial Order (Annotated)
PC-NY-0005-0002 PDF | Detail
Opinion 07/13/1988 (692 F.Supp. 1519) (S.D.N.Y.)
PC-NY-0005-0005 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Reported Opinion 07/14/1989 (718 F.Supp. 1111) (S.D.N.Y.)
PC-NY-0005-0003 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Opinion 11/08/1989 (1989 WL 135912 / 1989 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 13264) (S.D.N.Y.)
PC-NY-0005-0006 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Opinion 04/16/1990 (902 F.2d 2)
PC-NY-0005-0004 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Judges Feinberg, Wilfred (Second Circuit, S.D.N.Y.)
PC-NY-0005-0004
Kaufman, Irving Robert (S.D.N.Y., Second Circuit)
PC-NY-0005-0004
Lasker, Morris Edward (D. Mass., S.D.N.Y.)
PC-NY-0005-0003 | PC-NY-0005-0005 | PC-NY-0005-0006 | PC-NY-0005-9000
Walker, John Mercer Jr. (Second Circuit, S.D.N.Y.)
PC-NY-0005-0004
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Boston, John (New York)
PC-NY-0005-0002 | PC-NY-0005-0003 | PC-NY-0005-0004 | PC-NY-0005-0005
Spencer, Claudette R. (New York)
PC-NY-0005-0002 | PC-NY-0005-0003 | PC-NY-0005-0004 | PC-NY-0005-0005
Weinstein, Philip L. (New York)
PC-NY-0005-0002 | PC-NY-0005-0003 | PC-NY-0005-0004 | PC-NY-0005-0005
Wilker, Dale A. (New York)
PC-NY-0005-0002 | PC-NY-0005-0003 | PC-NY-0005-0004 | PC-NY-0005-0005
Defendant's Lawyers Hsu, Hway-Ling (New York)
PC-NY-0005-0005
Koerner, Leonard J. (New York)
PC-NY-0005-0004
Kolikoff, Fred (New York)
PC-NY-0005-0004
Kovner, Victor A. (New York)
PC-NY-0005-0004
Leoussis, Fay (New York)
PC-NY-0005-0004
Morgenroth, Diane J. (New York)
PC-NY-0005-0003 | PC-NY-0005-0005
Mosenson, Steven H. (New York)
PC-NY-0005-0005
Thom, William J. (New York)
PC-NY-0005-0004
Zimroth, Peter L. (New York)
PC-NY-0005-0003 | PC-NY-0005-0005
Other Lawyers None on record

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