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Case Name Collins v. Thompson PC-WA-0009
Docket / Court 78-134 ( W.D. Wash. )
State/Territory Washington
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
In 1978, prisoners at the Washington State Reformatory filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Washington Department of Corrections in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. The plaintiffs alleged that their constitutional rights had been ... read more >
In 1978, prisoners at the Washington State Reformatory filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Washington Department of Corrections in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. The plaintiffs alleged that their constitutional rights had been violated by overcrowding and double celling at the jail.

On January 19, 1981, the parties submitted a proposed consent decree, which provided for eventual reduction of the prison's population, to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington (Judge Donald Voorhees). On February 6, 1981, the state discovered an error in the typed body of the consent decree, finding that the plaintiffs' copy listed March 1, 1981 as the target date and the defendants' copy listed April 1, 1981 as the target date. On March 4, due to this discrepancy, the court (Judge Voorhees) denied approval of the consent decree, finding that there had been no meeting of minds between the parties.

On May 15, 1981, the plaintiffs filed a Notice of Acceptance of Offer of Settlement in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, stating that they accepted the offer of settlement embodied in the copy of the consent decree that the defendants had submitted to the court. On August 17, 1981, the court (Judge Voorhees) entered the consent decree. The defendant's appealed the entry of the decree.

On June 8, 1982, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Judge Otto Skopil) affirmed the district court's entry of the consent decree. Collins v. Thompson, 679 F.2d 168 (9th Cir. 1982). On September 18, 1989, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued an order awarding costs and attorneys' fees to the plaintiffs. Collins v. Thompson, 1989 WL 112427 (9th Cir.(Wash.) Sept. 18, 1989).

By 1987, the defendants had achieved the consent decree's final reduction goal of 656 inmates at the prison. Shortly thereafter, the defendants began a renovation project which involved closing half of the cells at the prison. The prisoners were granted a temporary modification of the consent decree, reducing the prisoner population to 348, which reflected the number of cells available during the renovation. In 1989, the defendants appealed the temporary population reduction order and asked the court to dissolve the consent decree. In July 1989, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington ruled that it had no jurisdiction to hear the motion to dismiss while the defendant's appeal of the modification was pending. The defendants subsequently withdrew its appeal so that jurisdiction would again vest in the district court.

In February 1990, the defendants filed a second motion to vacate the consent decree. On November 28, 1990, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington (Judge Barbara Rothstein) denied the defendants' request. The defendants appealed the denial. On August 4, 1992, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Judge Eugene Wright, Judge David Thompson, and Judge Thomas Nelson) reversed the district court's decision and ordered the district court to enter final judgment in the case. Collins v. Thompson, 1992 WL 184328 (9th Cir.(Wash.) Aug. 4, 1992). The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington (Judge Rothstein) vacated the consent decree and terminated the court's jurisdiction in the case. The plaintiffs appealed.

On October 25, 1993, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Judge Eugene Wright) affirmed the district court's vacation of the consent decree and termination of the case. Collins v. Thompson, 8 F.3d 657 (9th Cir. 1993). The plaintiffs appealed.

On May 31, 1994, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the plaintiffs' petition for writ of certiorari. Collins v. Thompson, 511 U.S. 1127 (1994).

Kristen Sagar - 04/12/2006


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Washington Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description prisoners at the Washington State Reformatory
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 Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1981 - 1992
Case Closing Year 1994
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)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
Reported Opinion 06/08/1982 (679 F.2d 168)
PC-WA-0009-0001 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Order 09/18/1989 (886 F.2d 334)
PC-WA-0009-0004 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Memorandum 08/04/1992 (972 F.2d 1338)
PC-WA-0009-0003 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Opinion 10/25/1993 (8 F.3d 657)
PC-WA-0009-0002 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Memorandum Decision 05/31/1994 (511 U.S. 1127)
PC-WA-0009-0005 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Judges Nelson, Thomas G. (Ninth Circuit)
PC-WA-0009-0003
Skopil, Otto Richard Jr. (D. Or., Ninth Circuit)
PC-WA-0009-0001
Thompson, David R. (Ninth Circuit)
PC-WA-0009-0003 | PC-WA-0009-0004
Wallace, John Clifford (S.D. Cal., Ninth Circuit)
PC-WA-0009-0004
Wright, Eugene Allen (Ninth Circuit)
PC-WA-0009-0002 | PC-WA-0009-0003 | PC-WA-0009-0004
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Adelman, Robert (Washington)
PC-WA-0009-0001
Midgley, John (Washington)
PC-WA-0009-0001
Stalker, Robert A. Jr. (Washington)
PC-WA-0009-0002
Defendant's Lawyers Blonien, John Scott (Washington)
PC-WA-0009-0002
DeMarco, Pat L. (Washington)
PC-WA-0009-0002
Madden, Michael (Washington)
PC-WA-0009-0001
Mix, Kathleen D (Washington)
PC-WA-0009-0002
Other Lawyers None on record

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