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Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Dunn v. Voinovich PC-OH-0004
Docket / Court 93-0166 ( S.D. Ohio )
State/Territory Ohio
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
On March 3, 1993, psychiatrically impaired inmates at Ohio prisons filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio against the Governor of Ohio, the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, and the Department of Mental Health. The ... read more >
On March 3, 1993, psychiatrically impaired inmates at Ohio prisons filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio against the Governor of Ohio, the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, and the Department of Mental Health. The class consisted of all mentally ill inmates who were or would be confined in one of the State of Ohio's prison system facilities. The class was represented by private counsel. The plaintiffs sought injunctive and declaratory relief, alleging that the actions of the defendants constituted cruel and unusual punishment. More specifically, the plaintiffs sought relief from the inadequate or non-existent psychiatric care in Ohio's prison system.

The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants were under a duty to provide the inmates with psychiatric care. According to the complaint, psychiatrically impaired inmates were not provided the necessary mental health treatment and their conditions worsened. As a result, the mentally ill inmates injured themselves, were injured by other inmates, and were subjected to disciplinary confinement and restraint.

After discovery and negotiation, the parties reached an agreement. On July 11, 1995, the District Court (Magistrate Judge Robert A. Steinberg) approved the consent decree. The objectives of the consent decree were (1) to reduce the disabling effects of serious mental illness and enhance the inmate's ability to function within the prison environment, (2) to reduce or, when possible, eliminate the needless extremes of human suffering caused by serious mental illness, and (3) to maximize the safety of the prison environment for staff, inmates, volunteers, visitors, and any other persons on prison premises. The defendants were required to provide an initial intake mental health screening upon all inmates' admission to the prison system, to provide inmates with information regarding access to mental health care, to hire additional mental health staff, to provide inpatient hospital beds for seriously mentally ill inmates, and to establish procedures for the administration of medications. The consent decree further provided for the development of written policies and procedures regarding the use of physical restraints and confinement in dealing with mentally ill inmates. Professor Fred Cohen was appointed as the overall monitor of the provisions of the consent decree. The court retained jurisdiction for the purpose of enforcement of the consent decree for a period of five years.

On September 19, 2000, the consent decree was terminated. The case is closed.

Kaitlin Corkran - 06/04/2006


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
General
Assault/abuse by residents/inmates/students
Disciplinary segregation
Restraints : physical
Medical/Mental Health
Mental health care, general
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983
Defendant(s) Department of Mental Health
Department of Rehabilitation and Correction
State of Ohio
Plaintiff Description All mentally ill inmates who were or would be confined in one of the State of Ohio's prison system facilities.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Mixed
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 1995 - 2000
Case Closing Year 2000
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)
93-166 (S.D. Ohio) 11/15/2000
PC-OH-0004-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Consent Decree 07/10/1995 (S.D. Ohio)
PC-OH-0004-0001 PDF | Detail
Complaint 03/02/1998
PC-OH-0004-0002 PDF | Detail
Judges Hogan, Timothy Sylvester (S.D. Ohio)
PC-OH-0004-9000
Steinberg, Robert (S.D. Ohio) [Magistrate]
PC-OH-0004-0001
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Gerhardstein, Alphonse A. (Ohio)
PC-OH-0004-0001 | PC-OH-0004-9000
Newman, Robert B. (Ohio)
PC-OH-0004-0001 | PC-OH-0004-0002 | PC-OH-0004-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Bergman, Andrew (Ohio)
PC-OH-0004-0001 | PC-OH-0004-9000
Clark, Jeffery William (Ohio)
PC-OH-0004-9000
Mancini, Joseph Matthew (Ohio)
PC-OH-0004-0001 | PC-OH-0004-9000
Reese, Mary Anne (Ohio)
PC-OH-0004-9000
Weaver, Diane Marie (Ohio)
PC-OH-0004-0001 | PC-OH-0004-9000
Williams, John Thomas (Ohio)
PC-OH-0004-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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