On May 13, 2003, a group of prisoners filed a 42 U.S.C. §1983 class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama in order to challenge the constitutional adequacy of medical care provided by the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC), Naphcare, Inc., and St. Clair Correctional Facility (St. Clair) to inmates housed at St. Clair. Plaintiffs requested declaratory and injunctive relief as well as class certification.
On May 23, 2003, Plaintiffs filed a motion for a preliminary injunction. On June 26, 2003, the parties entered into a court-enforceable "Preliminary Injunction Settlement Agreement" in order to resolve Plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunction. The agreement provided that Defendants would, without admitting liability, work to cure any existing violation of federal rights by: (a) hiring and maintaining additional staff, (b) timely providing all necessary medical treatment, and (c) keeping Plaintiffs' counsel apprised of efforts to engage in good faith compliance with the agreement. The parties also provided that the agreement would terminate upon final resolution of the case.
On March 18, 2004, the District Court (Chief Judge U.W. Clemon) issued an order granting Defendant Naphcare's Motion to be dismissed from the suit on grounds that Naphcare no longer provided medical services to inmates of Alabama correctional facilities. The court ordered that the case proceed against the remaining Defendants.
On June 2, 2004, the parties entered into a Settlement Agreement in order to resolve the litigation. The agreement provided for the certification of a plaintiff-class (consisting of "all present and future inmates who are or will be incarcerated at St. Clair Correctional Facility and who are in need of medical care") for purposes of settlement only. Defendants agreed to undertake a number of reform efforts elaborated in a separate "Agreement of Experts", including: (a) providing adequate and timely medical treatment, (b) providing adequate levels and types of staffing, (c) developing and implementing performance measures, and (d) adopting an oversight and quality management program.
The Settlement Agreement also required Defendants to undertake specific courses of care and treatment for four of the named plaintiffs.
To ensure Defendants' compliance, the agreement further provided for the appointment of an independent consultant charged with overseeing the implementation of the agreement. The consultant was required to periodically visit and audit St. Clair during the period between July 1, 2004 and July 1, 2006, and to submit written reports to ADOC and Plaintiffs' counsel for the purpose of tracking Defendant ADOC's progress toward achieving "substantial compliance" with the terms of the Settlement Agreement.
The Settlement Agreement specified, however, that it was not a consent decree and was not enforceable in federal court. It provided that, in the event of non-compliance with the terms of the Settlement Agreement, Plaintiffs would be entitled to enforce the agreement in state court only, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. §3626(c)(2)(B). Alternatively, Plaintiffs would be entitled to bring a new action in federal court.
After notice of the proposed settlement was issued to the class, several individual class-members submitted their objections. Nevertheless, on August 31, 2004, after holding a fairness hearing, the District Court (Judge Clemon) approved the consent settlement and finally dismissed the case.
We have no further information on this case.Vidhya Reddy - 02/26/2008