University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Byrd v. Goord PC-NY-0050
Docket / Court 1:00-cv-02135-GBD ( S.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
In March 2000, a group of family members, legal counsel and others who received collect telephone calls from New York state inmates filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. (The case was a companion action to state court litigation which appears in the ... read more >
In March 2000, a group of family members, legal counsel and others who received collect telephone calls from New York state inmates filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. (The case was a companion action to state court litigation which appears in the Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse as case PC-NY-49.) The defendants were state prison administrators and the telephone service provider (MCI), which had an exclusive contract with the state to provide telephone service in its' prisons. The plaintiffs, relying on 42 U.S.C. § 1983, were represented by attorneys for the Center for Constitutional Rights and private counsel. Complaining of excessively high rates for these collect calls and of a lack of options for alternate telephone service, as well as the high commission (nearly 60% of gross revenues) paid by MCI to the state under the contract, the plaintiffs asserted that their constitutional rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments had been violated, specifically their rights of freedom of association and to contract, as well as rights to due process and to equal protection of law. Plaintiffs also alleged anti-trust and tortuous interference with contract claims.

The defendants filed motions to dismiss the federal case, which were decided on August 29, 2005. In an unpublished order in Byrd v. Goord, District Judge George B. Daniels granted the state's motions to dismiss the plaintiffs' challenges to the exclusive services contract and to the collect call-only system, but he denied dismissal of the constitutional claims relating to the high-percentage commissions the state received under the contract. He also granted MCI's motion to be dismissed from the case, finding that the plaintiffs' claim against the company basically attacked its rates, an attack precluded by the filed rate doctrine. The court's ruling was followed by discovery proceedings, further motions and an effort to have the case certified as a class action.

Meanwhile, a new governor took office on January 8, 2007, and ordered that the commission received by the state prison system be eliminated by April 1, 2007. The telephone service contract was restructured to comply with the governor's directive. The defendants moved to dismiss the case as moot. On September 26, 2007, in an unpublished order, Judge Daniels granted the defense request, noting also that new state legislation had been enacted which prohibited the prison system from accepting or receiving revenue in excess of reasonable operating costs for providing telephone services for prisoners. Likewise, the judge ruled that the request for class certification was moot.

We have no information suggesting further activity in the case.

Mike Fagan - 05/01/2008


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
General
Phone
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) New York State Department of Correctional Services
Plaintiff Description Recipients of collect telephone calls made by New York state prison inmates
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing PC-NY-0049 : Walton v. New York State Department of Correctional Services (State Court)
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)
1:00-cv-02135-GBD (S.D.N.Y.) 02/25/2007
PC-NY-0050-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Memorandum Opinion and Order 08/29/2005 (2005 WL 2086321) (S.D.N.Y.)
PC-NY-0050-0001.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Memorandum Decision and Order 09/27/2007 (2007 WL 2789505 / 2007 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 71279) (S.D.N.Y.)
PC-NY-0050-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Judges Daniels, George B. (S.D.N.Y.)
PC-NY-0050-0001 | PC-NY-0050-0002 | PC-NY-0050-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers FitzPatrick, Brian T. (New York)
PC-NY-0050-0002 | PC-NY-0050-9000
Goodman, William Harry (New York)
PC-NY-0050-0002 | PC-NY-0050-9000
Jaffe, Susan M. (New York)
PC-NY-0050-0002 | PC-NY-0050-9000
Maimon, Moshe (New York)
PC-NY-0050-0002 | PC-NY-0050-9000
Meeropol, Rachael (New York)
PC-NY-0050-0002 | PC-NY-0050-9000
Olshansky, Barbara J. (New York)
PC-NY-0050-9000
Perry, Robert Thomas (New York)
PC-NY-0050-0002 | PC-NY-0050-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Duncan, Patrick C. Jr. (New York)
PC-NY-0050-9000
Schulman, Steven Neil (New York)
PC-NY-0050-0002 | PC-NY-0050-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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