University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Wabasha v. Solem PC-SD-0004
Docket / Court 4:79-cv-04064 ( D.S.D. )
State/Territory South Dakota
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
On May 21, 1979, Native American inmates confined in the Adjustment Center at the South Dakota Penitentiary filed a class action lawsuit under 42 USC 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota against the warden of the Penitentiary. Plaintiffs alleged that conditions of ... read more >
On May 21, 1979, Native American inmates confined in the Adjustment Center at the South Dakota Penitentiary filed a class action lawsuit under 42 USC 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota against the warden of the Penitentiary. Plaintiffs alleged that conditions of confinement violated their Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The complaint also alleged that confinement and transfer procedures violated their Fifth Amendment rights as well as the Fourteenth Amendment's due process and equal protection provisions.

On June 2, 1980, the plaintiff class was expanded to included all inmates subjected to disciplinary confinement, and a subclass was formed consisting of all Native American inmates. On June 3, 1980, the case went to trial.

On April 13, 1982, the court filed an unpublished memorandum decision and order finding no constitutional violations, but ordering that the defendant provide such things as lighting, bedding, daily trash collection, periodic pest control, better access to the law library, and limits on the duration of confinements in dark cells. The court also recommended such things as a reevaluation of the shower policy, increased recreational opportunities, and psychiatric care when needed.

A final judgment was entered on February 18, 1983 reflecting post-trial changes that were made in response to the memorandum decision and order.

Plaintiffs filed for attorney fees under 42 U.S.C. 1988. On February 7, 1984, the District Court (Judge Fred J. Nichol) awarded the plaintiffs $15,227.78 for attorney fees and costs. Wabasha v. Solem, 580 F.Supp. 448 (D.S.D. 1984). According to the docket, the plaintiffs moved to reconsider the amount of attorney fees, but the motion was dismissed on May 4, 1984.

On August 1, 1989, the plaintiffs filed a motion for an order to show cause why the defendant should not be held in civil contempt. The motion was denied on August 14, 1991 and the proceedings were dismissed as abandoned. The docket ends with the entry of the order denying the plaintiffs' motion to hold defendants in contempt on August 15, 1991.

Rebekah Henn Sullivan - 07/26/2005


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Male
Discrimination-basis
Race discrimination
General
Disciplinary segregation
Law library access
Recreation / Exercise
Religious programs / policies
Sanitation / living conditions
Medical/Mental Health
Mental health care, general
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983
Defendant(s) Adjustment Center at South Dakota State Penitentiary
Plaintiff Description South Dakota inmates subjected to disciplinary confinement, and a subclass of all Native American inmates.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration 1979 - 1983
Case Closing Year 1991
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)
79-cv-04064 (D.S.D.) 08/15/1991
PC-SD-0004-9001 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
79-cv-04064 (D.S.D.) 06/12/2002
PC-SD-0004-9000 PDF | Detail
General Documents
Memorandum Decision and Order 04/13/1982 (D.S.D.)
PC-SD-0004-0003 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
USCA Opinion 12/01/1982 (694 F.2d 155)
PC-SD-0004-0005 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Memorandum Decision and Order 02/07/1984 (D.S.D.)
PC-SD-0004-0002 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Decision and Order 02/07/1984 (580 F.Supp. 448) (D.S.D.)
PC-SD-0004-0004 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Order of Dismissal 08/14/1991 (D.S.D.)
PC-SD-0004-0001 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Bright, Myron H. (Eighth Circuit)
PC-SD-0004-0005
Gibson, Floyd Robert (W.D. Mo., Eighth Circuit)
PC-SD-0004-0005
Jones, John Bailey (D.S.D.)
PC-SD-0004-0001
Lay, Donald Pomery (Eighth Circuit)
PC-SD-0004-0005
Nichol, Fred Joseph (D.S.D.)
PC-SD-0004-0002 | PC-SD-0004-0004
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Abbott, John (South Dakota)
PC-SD-0004-0005
Cummings, Douglas P. Jr. (South Dakota)
PC-SD-0004-0004 | PC-SD-0004-9001
Gilbert, Terry H. (Ohio)
PC-SD-0004-0004 | PC-SD-0004-9001
Gregory, Peter (South Dakota)
PC-SD-0004-9001
Stanley, Christopher D. (Ohio)
PC-SD-0004-0004 | PC-SD-0004-9001
Defendant's Lawyers Barnett, Mark W. (South Dakota)
PC-SD-0004-0004
Dale, Richard (South Dakota)
PC-SD-0004-0005
Meierhenry, Mark V. (South Dakota)
PC-SD-0004-0004 | PC-SD-0004-0005 | PC-SD-0004-9001
Other Lawyers None on record

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