University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Blissett v. Coughlin PC-NY-0019
Docket / Court 84-1049 ( W.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
Donovan Blissett, a prisoner at Attica Correctional Facility in New York, filed a pro-se civil rights lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York on September 14, 1984 against Attica prison guards and officials. The original complaint was amended and narrowed during the ... read more >
Donovan Blissett, a prisoner at Attica Correctional Facility in New York, filed a pro-se civil rights lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York on September 14, 1984 against Attica prison guards and officials. The original complaint was amended and narrowed during the eight years leading to trial. The only remaining allegations at trial were that guards had used unnecessary force upon Blissett, had subjected him to unconstitutional conditions of confinement in a Special Housing Unit ("SHU"), and that medical personnel within the prison had showed deliberate indifference to Blissett's serious medical needs resulting from the alleged assault. Blissett was ultimately represented by several counsel, including, at one point, Prisoners' Legal Services in Plattsburg, NY.Blissett testified that on June 28, 1983, following a routine random search, he was repeatedly assaulted by guards and was forced, naked, into an SHU cell that was covered in feces. In addition, he was denied medical attention for the first day of this ordeal. When medical personnel did see him, he alleged that they were entirely unresponsive to his concerns. Following a jury trial, judgment was entered on a jury verdict for Blissett on the assault and unconstitutional conditions of confinement claims, but for defendants on the deliberate indifference to serious medical needs claim. (Judge Alfredo C. Marquez). These findings were affirmed on appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Blisset v. Coughlin, 66 F.3d 531 (2d Cir. 1995) (Judge Fred I. Parker). Subsequently, the court granted plaintiff's motions for attorney's fees.

Megan Raynor - 01/23/2006


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
General
Assault/abuse by staff
Disciplinary segregation
Personal injury
Sanitation / living conditions
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983
Defendant(s) Attica Prison
Plaintiff Description Inmate alleging a variety of constitutional claims arising from an alleged assault perpetuated on him by prison guards and his subsequent confinement to a Special Housing Unit cell
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration 1994 - n/a
Case Closing Year n/a
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)
84-1049 (W.D.N.Y.) 04/17/1996
PC-NY-0019-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Reported Opinion 09/25/1995 (66 F.3d 531)
PC-NY-0019-0001 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Judges Arcara, Richard Joseph (W.D.N.Y.)
PC-NY-0019-9000
Baer, Harold Jr. (S.D.N.Y.)
PC-NY-0019-0001
Maxwell, Edmund F. (W.D.N.Y.) [Magistrate]
PC-NY-0019-9000
Miner, Roger Jeffrey (N.D.N.Y., Second Circuit)
PC-NY-0019-0001
Parker, Fred I. (D. Vt., Second Circuit)
PC-NY-0019-0001
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Anderson, Leigh E. (New York)
PC-NY-0019-9000
Bensing, Robert F. (Georgia)
PC-NY-0019-9000
Bozer, Alan J. (New York)
PC-NY-0019-9000
Cohen, Stanley L. (New York)
PC-NY-0019-9000
Smith, Jane Simkin (New York)
PC-NY-0019-0001
Defendant's Lawyers Cream, Douglas S. (New York)
PC-NY-0019-9000
Koppell, G. Oliver (New York)
PC-NY-0019-0001
McConnell, John (New York)
PC-NY-0019-0001
Schiff, Peter H. (New York)
PC-NY-0019-0001
Spiegel, Nancy A. (New York)
PC-NY-0019-0001
Other Lawyers None on record

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