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Case Name Austin v. Pennsylvania Department of Corrections PC-PA-0002
Docket / Court 2:90-cv-07497-JD ( E.D. Pa. )
State/Territory Pennsylvania
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Attorney Organization ACLU National (all projects)
ACLU National Prison Project
NDRN/Protection & Advocacy Organizations
Case Summary
On November 27, 1990, prisoners from various Pennsylvania prisons filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. §1983 against the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The plaintiffs, who were represented in part by the ... read more >
On November 27, 1990, prisoners from various Pennsylvania prisons filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. §1983 against the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The plaintiffs, who were represented in part by the Disabilities Law Project and the National Prison Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, asked the Court for declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as damages, alleging that their constitutional rights had been violated by severe overcrowding of inmates, claiming that the defendants detained approximately 18,500 individuals in institutions that were only equipped to handle 13,000 inmates. The plaintiffs claimed that this overcrowding resulted in mental damage to inmates, physical violence, rioting, inadequate staffing, and excessive use of force. The plaintiffs also claimed that the prison system's classification procedures were in disarray, there was a huge lack of work, educational, and rehabilitation programming. They alleged that there were deficiencies in health and psychiatric care, that there were problems with a spread of HIV/AIDS and drug use. They alleged that environmental conditions were unlivable, including insufficient ventilation, excessive noise, rodent and insect infestation, leaking walls and ceilings, uneven heat, insufficient lighting, unsafe electrical wiring, deteriorating plumbing, mold and mildew in the showers, deteriorating floors, unsanitary food services, contamination of improperly stored food, inadequate water supply, and lack of hygiene and sanitation services. They claimed that they were unconstitutionally denied access to the courts because the defendants failed to provide them with attorneys, paralegals, or professionally trained persons to assist inmates with the filing of civil rights complaints, and because they failed to update the prison law libraries.

On March 5, 1992, the District Court (Judge Jan E. DuBois) certified a plaintiff class of "all persons who are now or will in the future be confined by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections in a facility other than SCI-Muncy or SCI-Pittsburgh, both of which are subject to other court orders." On September 29, 1992, the District Court (Judge DuBois) granted the plaintiff class motion for a preliminary injunction, ordering them to implement clinical and administrative guidelines for the prevention and management of tuberculosis. Austin v. Pennsylvania Dep't of Corr., No. 90-7497, 1992 WL 277511 (E.D.Pa. Sept. 29, 1992).

On January 7, 1993, the District Court (Judge DuBois) denied the motion of plaintiff class to add five medical and mental health care contractors as defendants, finding that the contractors had not acted in bad faith. Austin v. Pennsylvania Dep't of Corr., No. 90-7497, 1993 WL 9042 (E.D.Pa. Jan. 7, 1993).

In August 1994, the parties entered into a settlement agreement and filed it with the District Court. The agreement purported to represent agreement between the parties as to all areas of dispute. On January 6, 1995, the District Court (Judge DuBois) approved the settlement agreement and adopted it as a consent decree. The Court also awarded $1.4 million to the plaintiffs' counsel for attorneys' fees. On the same day, the parties stipulated their agreement to have the case dismissed, and the District Court agreed to dismiss the lawsuit and close the case. Austin v. Pennsylvania Dep't of Corrections, 876 F.Supp. 1437 (E.D.Pa. 1995).

Kristen Sagar - 10/03/2007


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
General
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Assault/abuse by residents/inmates/students
Assault/abuse by staff
Bathing and hygiene
Classification / placement
Counseling
Education
Fire safety
Food service / nutrition / hydration
Law library access
Personal injury
Recreation / Exercise
Rehabilitation
Sanitation / living conditions
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Totality of conditions
Medical/Mental Health
HIV/AIDS
Medical care, general
Mental health care, general
Tuberculosis
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Pennsylvania Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description all persons who are now or will in the future be confined by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections in a facility other than SCI-Muncy or SCI-Pittsburgh, both of which are subject to other court orders
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU National (all projects)
ACLU National Prison Project
NDRN/Protection & Advocacy Organizations
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Private Settlement Agreement
Order Duration 1995 - n/a
Case Closing Year 1995
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)
2:90-cv-07497-JD (E.D. Pa.) 08/24/2007
PC-PA-0002-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Brief in Support of Motion for Leave to Amend Complaint and Add Defendant
PC-PA-0002-0020.pdf | Detail
Complaint 11/27/1990
PC-PA-0002-0001.pdf | Detail
First Amended Complaint 02/20/1991
PC-PA-0002-0018.pdf | Detail
Second Amended Complaint 09/16/1991
PC-PA-0002-0024.pdf | Detail
Third Amended Complaint 07/07/1992
PC-PA-0002-0002.pdf | Detail
Memorandum 09/29/1992 (1992 WL 277511 / 1992 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 14971) (E.D. Pa.)
PC-PA-0002-0028.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Fourth Amended Complaint 11/06/1992
PC-PA-0002-0004.pdf | Detail
Memorandum 01/07/1993 (1993 WL 9042 / 1993 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 197) (E.D. Pa.)
PC-PA-0002-0029.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Proposed Settlement Agreement 10/20/1994
PC-PA-0002-0006.pdf | Detail
Stipulation of Dismissal 01/06/1995 (E.D. Pa.)
PC-PA-0002-0008.pdf | Detail
Order 01/06/1995 (E.D. Pa.)
PC-PA-0002-0009.pdf | Detail
Order 01/17/1995 (876 F.Supp. 1437) (E.D. Pa.)
PC-PA-0002-0027.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Correspondence 07/08/1996
PC-PA-0002-0016.pdf | Detail
Objections to the Proposed Settlement 06/04/2007
PC-PA-0002-0026.pdf | Detail
Judges DuBois, Jan Ely (E.D. Pa.)
PC-PA-0002-0009 | PC-PA-0002-0016 | PC-PA-0002-0027 | PC-PA-0002-0028 | PC-PA-0002-0029 | PC-PA-0002-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Adams, Stuart H. Jr. (District of Columbia)
PC-PA-0002-0028 | PC-PA-0002-0029 | PC-PA-0002-9000
Aiyetoro, Adjoa A. (District of Columbia)
PC-PA-0002-0001 | PC-PA-0002-0002 | PC-PA-0002-0004 | PC-PA-0002-0018 | PC-PA-0002-0024
Alexander, Elizabeth R. (District of Columbia)
PC-PA-0002-0002 | PC-PA-0002-0004 | PC-PA-0002-0006 | PC-PA-0002-0016 | PC-PA-0002-0020 | PC-PA-0002-0027 | PC-PA-0002-0028 | PC-PA-0002-0029 | PC-PA-0002-9000
Blackwell, Kenneth L. (Virginia)
PC-PA-0002-0028 | PC-PA-0002-0029 | PC-PA-0002-9000
Bronstein, Alvin J. (District of Columbia)
PC-PA-0002-0001 | PC-PA-0002-0002 | PC-PA-0002-0004 | PC-PA-0002-0006 | PC-PA-0002-0018 | PC-PA-0002-0024 | PC-PA-0002-0027 | PC-PA-0002-0028 | PC-PA-0002-0029 | PC-PA-0002-9000
Burris, Scott (Pennsylvania)
PC-PA-0002-0001 | PC-PA-0002-0002 | PC-PA-0002-0006 | PC-PA-0002-0018 | PC-PA-0002-0024 | PC-PA-0002-0027 | PC-PA-0002-9000
Fathi, David Cyrus (District of Columbia)
PC-PA-0002-0001 | PC-PA-0002-0002 | PC-PA-0002-0004 | PC-PA-0002-0018 | PC-PA-0002-0024 | PC-PA-0002-0027 | PC-PA-0002-0028 | PC-PA-0002-0029 | PC-PA-0002-9000
Greenlee, Edwin J. (Pennsylvania)
PC-PA-0002-9000
Kraus, Amy Folkoff (District of Columbia)
PC-PA-0002-9000
Love, Angus R. (Pennsylvania)
PC-PA-0002-0001 | PC-PA-0002-0002 | PC-PA-0002-0004 | PC-PA-0002-0006 | PC-PA-0002-0018 | PC-PA-0002-0024 | PC-PA-0002-0027 | PC-PA-0002-0028 | PC-PA-0002-0029 | PC-PA-0002-9000
Meek, Robert W. (Pennsylvania)
PC-PA-0002-0006 | PC-PA-0002-0027 | PC-PA-0002-9000
Presser, Stefan (Pennsylvania)
PC-PA-0002-0001 | PC-PA-0002-0002 | PC-PA-0002-0004 | PC-PA-0002-0006 | PC-PA-0002-0008 | PC-PA-0002-0018 | PC-PA-0002-0024 | PC-PA-0002-0027 | PC-PA-0002-0028 | PC-PA-0002-0029 | PC-PA-0002-9000
Rifkin, Marjorie Lynn (District of Columbia)
PC-PA-0002-9000
Rudovsky, David (Pennsylvania)
PC-PA-0002-0001 | PC-PA-0002-0002 | PC-PA-0002-0004 | PC-PA-0002-0006 | PC-PA-0002-0018 | PC-PA-0002-0024 | PC-PA-0002-0027 | PC-PA-0002-0028 | PC-PA-0002-0029 | PC-PA-0002-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Barrett, Linda C. (Pennsylvania)
PC-PA-0002-0004 | PC-PA-0002-0006 | PC-PA-0002-0016 | PC-PA-0002-0027 | PC-PA-0002-0028 | PC-PA-0002-0029 | PC-PA-0002-9000
Filipi, Francis R. (Pennsylvania)
PC-PA-0002-0002 | PC-PA-0002-0006 | PC-PA-0002-0008 | PC-PA-0002-0027 | PC-PA-0002-0028 | PC-PA-0002-0029 | PC-PA-0002-9000
Knorr, John G. III (Pennsylvania)
PC-PA-0002-0006
Kuhn, Denise A. (Pennsylvania)
PC-PA-0002-0027 | PC-PA-0002-0028 | PC-PA-0002-0029 | PC-PA-0002-9000
Preate, Ernest D. Jr. (Pennsylvania)
PC-PA-0002-0006
Sherman, R. Douglas (Pennsylvania)
PC-PA-0002-0006 | PC-PA-0002-0027 | PC-PA-0002-0029 | PC-PA-0002-9000
Taggart, Pia D. (Pennsylvania)
PC-PA-0002-0006 | PC-PA-0002-0027
Other Lawyers Figueroa, Francisco (Pennsylvania)
PC-PA-0002-9000

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