University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Wright v. Corrections Corporation of America PC-DC-0019
Docket / Court 1:00-cv-00293-GK ( D.D.C. )
State/Territory District of Columbia
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Attorney Organization ACLU National (all projects)
ACLU National Prison Project
Washington Lawyers' Committee
Case Summary
On February 16, 2000, private attorneys, a public defender, and counsel from the D.C. Prisoners' Legal Services Project filed this §1983 class action in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on behalf of incarcerated persons, their family members, legal counsel, and other recipients ... read more >
On February 16, 2000, private attorneys, a public defender, and counsel from the D.C. Prisoners' Legal Services Project filed this §1983 class action in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on behalf of incarcerated persons, their family members, legal counsel, and other recipients of telephone calls from prisoners housed in prison facilities operated by the defendant private corporation, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA -- the largest operator of private prison facilities). It was assigned to District Judge Gladys Kessler. The affected facilities were in numerous locations around the U.S., including in the District of Columbia. Other named defendants were companies providing telephone services to these facilities.

The telephone service companies had entered into "exclusive dealing contracts" with the prison corporation. In return for granting this exclusivity, CCA received a commission for each call made. Under the contracts, only one company per prison provided telephone service for its prisoners, and the only service provided was to allow collect outgoing calls. Alleging that the collect calls resulted in the highest charges and that the represented class members were unable to choose any different, less-expensive service, the plaintiffs alleged they were entitled to damages and injunctive relief under the First and Fourteenth Amendments, the Sherman Antitrust Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1, the Communications Act, 47 U.S.C. § 151, and District of Columbia law.

On August 22, 2001, Judge Kessler granted the defendants' motion to dismiss the complaint, relying upon the doctrine of primary jurisdiction, and directed the parties to file pleadings raising the case's issues with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Later, the judge stayed the dismissal, pending the outcome of the FCC proceedings which ensued.

On October 8, 2003, the case returned to Judge Kessler, although the FCC proceedings had not concluded. On that day, she issued her memorandum opinion granting a defendant telephone company's motion to dismiss the complaint for lack of person jurisdiction over the company, which had no presence in the District of Columbia nor substantial business or other ties to it. On July 7, 2004, another telephone company defendant was dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction. The docket notes a termination date for the case of January 31, 2005 without further explanation.

Since then, the FCC proceedings, docketed as 96-128 and 12-375, have continued. In particular, on August 19, 2013, the FCC issued an order requiring interstate inmate calling service rates to be capped. See PC-DC-0027 and PC-DC-0028, in this collection.

On October 27, 2014, plaintiffs moved to reopen the case and Judge Kessler granted the motion on April 30, 2015. On May 15, 2015, plaintiffs moved to amend the initial complaint, as it was limited to those CCA facilities to which Securus provided ICS. The new complaint expanded the scope to all correctional facilities in the country served by Securus. In an opinion granting the motion issued January 21, 2016, Judge Kessler held that, while the new complaint does greatly increase the proposed class size, a mere increase in class size is neither complex nor inherently prejudicial, and that the amendment would neither cause undue delay nor is prejudicial. 2016 WL 264907, at *3. The court again stayed the case as of January 21, because the stay was lifted temporarily for the purpose of amending the complaint. The case is stayed as of June 13, 2016 due to the FCC considering more regulatory action.

Mike Fagan - 04/10/2008
David Cho - 11/24/2014
Soojin Cha - 06/12/2016


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Freedom of speech/association
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Phone
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Non-government for profit
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) AT&T
Corrections Corporation of America
Evercom Systems, Inc.
Globbal Telecommunications Link
Microwave Communications, Inc.-Worldcom Communications
Pioneer Telephone Cooperative
Plaintiff Description Inmates incarcerated at prison facilities operated by Corrections Corporation of America, Inc., as well as family members, legal counsel, and other recipients of telephone calls from inmates at CCA facilities
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU National (all projects)
ACLU National Prison Project
Washington Lawyers' Committee
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted No
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 2005
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing PC-DC-0027 : In the Matter of Rates for Interstate Inmate Calling Services / Wright Petition I (No Court)
PC-DC-0028 : In the Matter of Rates for Interstate Inmate Calling Services / Wright Petition II (No Court)
PC-WA-0015 : Judd v. AT&T (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-00293-GK (D.D.C.) 11/24/2014
PC-DC-0019-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Order 08/22/2001 (D.D.C.)
PC-DC-0019-0002 PDF | Detail
Memorandum Opinion 10/08/2003 (D.D.C.)
PC-DC-0019-0003 PDF | Detail
Comments of the American Civil Liberties Union and the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs 03/10/2004
PC-DC-0019-0001 PDF | Detail
Order 04/30/2015 (D.D.C.)
PC-DC-0019-0005 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 01/21/2016 (2016 WL 264907) (D.D.C.)
PC-DC-0019-0004 PDF | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amended Complaint 01/21/2016
PC-DC-0019-0006 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Kessler, Gladys (D.D.C.)
PC-DC-0019-0002 | PC-DC-0019-0003 | PC-DC-0019-0004 | PC-DC-0019-0005 | PC-DC-0019-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Golden, Deborah Maxine (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0019-0006 | PC-DC-0019-9000
Seliger, Stephen G (Illinois)
PC-DC-0019-0006 | PC-DC-0019-9000
Sennett, Marie-Ann (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0019-0006 | PC-DC-0019-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Bernard, Catherine A. (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0019-9000
Burack, Michael Leonard (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0019-9000
Charnes, Adam Howard (North Carolina)
PC-DC-0019-9000
Cosson, David (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0019-9000
Epstein, Anthony Charles (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0019-9000
Frankel, Jonathon W. (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0019-9000
Geenen, Michael J. (California)
PC-DC-0019-9000
Geise, Elizabeth Runyan (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0019-9000
Hopson, Mark Daniel (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0019-9000
Hughes, Kristen Grim (Virginia)
PC-DC-0019-9000
Joyce, Stephanie A. (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0019-9000
Littell, Susan A. (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0019-9000
Muench, John E. (Illinois)
PC-DC-0019-9000
Orcutt, Anne Marie (Arizona)
PC-DC-0019-9000
Palmer, Debra Ann (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0019-9000
Ridley, Eileen Regina (California)
PC-DC-0019-9000
Roman, Steven John (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0019-9000
Royal, Vaughn W. (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0019-9000
Steinmetz, Kyle J. (Illinois)
PC-DC-0019-9000
Trenga, Anthony John (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0019-9000
Varon, Jay Norman (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0019-9000
Volpe, Frank R. (New York)
PC-DC-0019-9000
Woodall, Kevin Francis (California)
PC-DC-0019-9000
Other Lawyers Alexander, Elizabeth R. (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0019-0001
Boggs, Roderic Van Oesen (District of Columbia)
PC-DC-0019-0001

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