University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name Sundstrom and Fields v. Frank PC-WI-0010
Docket / Court 2:06-cv-00112-CNC ( E.D. Wis. )
State/Territory Wisconsin
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
Lambda Legal
Case Summary
On January 24, 2006, several transgender state prisoners in Wisconsin state prisons filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, Milwaukee Division. The Plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief to redress Defendants' violations of their rights ... read more >
On January 24, 2006, several transgender state prisoners in Wisconsin state prisons filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, Milwaukee Division. The Plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief to redress Defendants' violations of their rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. Plaintiffs were represented by attorneys from the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc., the ACLU Foundation, Inc., the ACLU of Wisconsin Foundation, Inc., and private counsel.

Plaintiffs claim violation of the Constitution in enforcing "2005 Wisconsin Act 105," a recent state statute that barred use of state tax money for hormone therapy or sex reassignment surgery for prison inmates and others in state custody. Plaintiffs stated that Defendants' enforcement of the statute abruptly terminated and deprived them of medical treatment for their serious health conditions related to "Gender Identity Disorder," with no exercise whatsoever of individualized medical judgment and in contrast to the treatment Defendants provided to other similarly situated inmates at Wisconsin Department of Corrections ("DOC") facilities. Plaintiffs sought injunctive relief to end the violation of their equal protection rights and to be free from cruel and unusual punishment, pursuant to the Fourteenth and Eighth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, and a declaration that "2005 Wisconsin Act 105" is unconstitutional on its face.

On January 27, 2006, the Court (District Judge Charles N. Clevert, Jr.), granted a preliminary injunction in response to Plaintiffs' emergency request. He directed Defendants to resume hormone therapy to Plaintiffs at the level provided prior to reduced dosages given by Defendants in anticipation of full compliance with the statute. Judge Clevert denied Plaintiffs' motion for a temporary restraining order, finding that such an order was unneeded since the state had been able to participate in the emergency proceedings, which were held by telephone. Discovery and pretrial proceedings ensued in the following months.

Plaintiffs were also successful on July 12, 2007, when their motion for a refund of filing fees was granted. Their counsel had earlier paid filing fees on behalf of each plaintiff as they were added to the case via amended complaints, but counsel later concluded that the Prison Litigation Reform Act's provision for payment of filing fees per litigant did not govern this case. Judge Clevert agreed in an unpublished order stating that, under the plain language of the statute, only prisoners seeking to proceed in forma pauperis are required to pay filing fees individually. These plaintiffs never moved for such status, so the standard rule of one fee per lawsuit applied, according to the judge.

Plaintiffs' motion to have their case certified as a class action was denied by Judge Clevert on February 16, 2007. Later, Judge Clevert also denied Plaintiffs' motion to file a Fourth Amended Complaint, and their motion to reconsider certification of modified class definition.

On October 15, 2007, Judge Clevert granted in part and denied in part Defendants' motion for partial summary judgment.

On March 31, 2010, in a related case, Fields v. Smith, Judge Clevert issued an order declaring Wis. Stat. § 302.386(5m) unconstitutional and enjoined the enforcement of the statute. The court concluded that Defendants' application of Wis. Stat. § 302.386(5m) constituted deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment inasmuch as enforcement of the statute results in the denial of hormone therapy without regard for the individual medical needs of inmates and the medical judgment of their health care providers. The court further found Wis. Stat. § 302.386(5m) unconstitutional on its face under the Eighth Amendment because it bans the use of any Wisconsin State resources or federal funds passing through the government to provide hormone therapy and, thereby, requires the withdrawal of any such ongoing hormone therapy for inmates in DOC facilities without regard for the medical need for that treatment. The court further found that Wis. Stat. § 302.386(5m) prevents DOC medical personnel from evaluating inmates for treatment because such evaluation would be futile in light of the statute's ban on such hormone therapy. Furthermore, the application of Wis. Stat. § 302.386(5m) violates Plaintiffs' constitutional right to equal protection because there is no rational basis for treating Plaintiffs differently than similarly situated inmates. A Memorandum Decision was issued on May 13, 2010.

Defendants appealed the case to the Seventh Circuit. The case was heard and taken under advisement by panel on February 07, 2011.

On August 5, 2011, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals (Judges Rovner, Wood and Gottschall) affirmed the judgment of the District Court, ruling that the 2005 Wisconsin law violates the constitution, and striking it down in its entirety.

On March 26, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take the case, leaving the 7th Circuit Court's decision standing.

Xin Chen - 05/22/2011


compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief denied
General
Gay/lesbian/transgender
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Mental health care, general
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action State law
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Oshkosh Correctional Institution
Wisconsin Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description Five transgender women incarcerated in state prisons in Wisconsin.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
Lambda Legal
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2010
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing PC-WI-0014 : Konitzer v. Bartow (E.D. Wis.)
PC-WI-0015 : Gotti v. Raemisch (E.D. Wis.)
Additional Resources
click to show/hide detail
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)
2:06-cv-00112-CNC (E.D. Wis.) 01/10/2011
PC-WI-0010-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief 01/24/2006
PC-WI-0010-0002 PDF | Detail
Order Denying Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Granting Motion for Preliminary Injunction Barring Defendants From Withdrawing Plaintiffs' Hormonal Therapy 01/27/2006 (E.D. Wis.)
PC-WI-0010-0001 PDF | Detail
First Amended Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief 01/27/2006
PC-WI-0010-0003 PDF | Detail
Second Amended Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief 06/27/2006
PC-WI-0010-0004 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting Request for Refund of Fees 07/12/2006 (2006 WL 2038204 / 2006 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 53020) (E.D. Wis.)
PC-WI-0010-0019 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Third Amended Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief 12/18/2006
PC-WI-0010-0005 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Denying Plaintiff's Motion for Class Certification 02/16/2007 (E.D. Wis.)
PC-WI-0010-0006 PDF | Detail
Defendants’ Brief in Support of Defendants' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment 07/31/2007
PC-WI-0010-0008 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Denying Motion for Leave to Amend and Denying Motion to Reconsider Certification of Modified Class Definition 08/07/2007 (2007 WL 2303657) (E.D. Wis.)
PC-WI-0010-0009 PDF | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Brief in Opposition to Defendants' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment 08/30/2007
PC-WI-0010-0010 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Denying Plaintiffs' Motion to Exclude Testimony of Dr. Daniel C. Claiborn [...] 10/05/2007 (630 F.Supp.2d 974) (E.D. Wis.)
PC-WI-0010-0011 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part Defendants' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [...] 10/15/2007 (2007 WL 3046240) (E.D. Wis.)
PC-WI-0010-0012 PDF | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Trial Brief 10/18/2007
PC-WI-0010-0013 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendants' Trial Brief 10/19/2007
PC-WI-0010-0014 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Declaring Wis. Stat. § 302.386(5m) Unconstitutional and Enjoining Enforcement of Statute 03/31/2010 (2010 WL 1325165) (E.D. Wis.)
PC-WI-0010-0007 PDF | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
Memorandum Decision (Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law) 05/13/2010 (712 F.Supp.2d 830) (E.D. Wis.)
PC-WI-0010-0015 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Brief and Appendix of Defendants-Appellants, Cross-Appellees 09/22/2010
PC-WI-0010-0016 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Brief and Appendix of Plaintiffs-Appellees, Cross-Appellants 11/19/2010
PC-WI-0010-0017 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion (7th Cir.) 08/05/2011 (653 F.3d 550)
PC-WI-0010-0018 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source:
Judges Clevert, Charles N. Jr. (E.D. Wis.)
PC-WI-0010-0001 | PC-WI-0010-0006 | PC-WI-0010-0007 | PC-WI-0010-0009 | PC-WI-0010-0011 | PC-WI-0010-0012 | PC-WI-0010-0015 | PC-WI-0010-0019 | PC-WI-0010-9000
Gottschall, Joan B. (N.D. Ill.) [Magistrate]
PC-WI-0010-0018
Rovner, Ilana Kara Diamond (N.D. Ill., Seventh Circuit)
PC-WI-0010-0018
Wood, Diane Pamela (Seventh Circuit)
PC-WI-0010-0018
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Dupuis, Laurence J. (Wisconsin)
PC-WI-0010-0002 | PC-WI-0010-0003 | PC-WI-0010-0004 | PC-WI-0010-0005 | PC-WI-0010-0010 | PC-WI-0010-0013 | PC-WI-0010-0017 | PC-WI-0010-9000
Guenther, Erik R. (Wisconsin)
PC-WI-0010-0004 | PC-WI-0010-0005 | PC-WI-0010-0010 | PC-WI-0010-0017 | PC-WI-0010-9000
Knight, John A. (Illinois)
PC-WI-0010-0002 | PC-WI-0010-0003 | PC-WI-0010-0004 | PC-WI-0010-0005 | PC-WI-0010-0010 | PC-WI-0010-0013 | PC-WI-0010-0017 | PC-WI-0010-9000
Levasseur, Dru M. (New York)
PC-WI-0010-0017 | PC-WI-0010-9000
Thaler, Cole A. (Georgia)
PC-WI-0010-0002 | PC-WI-0010-0003 | PC-WI-0010-0004 | PC-WI-0010-0005 | PC-WI-0010-0010 | PC-WI-0010-0013 | PC-WI-0010-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Burkert Brist, Monica A. (Wisconsin)
PC-WI-0010-9000
Finkelmeyer, Corey F. (Wisconsin)
PC-WI-0010-9000
Potts, Abigail CS (Wisconsin)
PC-WI-0010-0016 | PC-WI-0010-9000
Schmelzer, Jody J. (Wisconsin)
PC-WI-0010-0008 | PC-WI-0010-0014 | PC-WI-0010-9000
Sullivan, Francis X. (Wisconsin)
PC-WI-0010-0008 | PC-WI-0010-0014 | PC-WI-0010-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -