University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Hicks v. Hetzel PC-AL-0032
Docket / Court 2:09-cv-00155 ( M.D. Ala. )
State/Territory Alabama
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Attorney Organization Southern Center for Human Rights
Case Summary
On February 26, 2009, inmates at Donaldson Correctional Facility filed this class action lawsuit against Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) and relevant officials under 42. U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama. Represented by Southern Center for Human ... read more >
On February 26, 2009, inmates at Donaldson Correctional Facility filed this class action lawsuit against Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) and relevant officials under 42. U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama. Represented by Southern Center for Human Rights (SCHR) and private counsel, the plaintiffs alleged that overcrowded facility resulted into serious physical violence and denial of plaintiff’s basic human needs. This, they alleged, violated the Eight and Fourteenth Amendments. The plaintiffs sought declaratory, injunctive, monetary relief, as well as class action certification. The plaintiffs defined the class as “all persons who are now or will in the future be incarcerated at Donaldson Correctional Facility.”

This case was assigned to district Judge William Keith Watkins. After a year of engaging in discovery, the parties each moved for summary judgment in February 2010. Judge Watkins denied the motion for class certification without prejudice on September 16, 2010.

After a settlement conference on February 23, 2010, parties continued to engage in settlement negotiations and finally settled this case on April 19, 2011. The remedy included a payment of attorneys’ fees and costs of $66,860.10 to the plaintiffs’ counsel. The settlement agreement specifically required the ADOC officers to be physically present 24 hours per day in many of the prisons dorms and revise its use of force policy significantly. The ADOC agreed to end the practice of triple-bunking prisoners in cells built for two men and to solicit technical assistance from the National Institute of Corrections for help in reducing the presence of weapons and other contraband at Donaldson. The agreement required the ADOC to forward to SCHR documentation regarding violent incidents at Donaldson.

The court granted the parties’ joint motion to stay the case on April 20, 2011. The action was stayed for over a year to allow defendants to improve conditions at the prison. The plaintiffs did not file any motion to lift the stay. Judge Watkins dismissed this lawsuit without prejudice on March 30, 2012.

Susie Choi - 03/08/2017


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Assault/abuse by residents/inmates/students
Personal injury
Recreation / Exercise
Rehabilitation
Sanitation / living conditions
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Alabama Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description 4 men incarcerated at William E. Donaldson Correctional Facility filing on behalf of themselves and similarly situated individuals
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Southern Center for Human Rights
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Unknown
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2011 - 2012
Case Closing Year 2012
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Case Studies 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 ]

  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 ]

Links Cruel Confinement: Abuse, Discrimination and Death Within Alabama's Prisons
Written: Jun. 04, 2014
(Southern Poverty Law Center )
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
2:09-cv-00155-WKW-WC (M.D. Ala.)
PC-AL-0032-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/30/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint
PC-AL-0032-0001.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 02/26/2009
Press Release
PC-AL-0032-0002.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 02/26/2009
Order [ECF# 27] (M.D. Ala.)
PC-AL-0032-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/08/2009
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 52] (M.D. Ala.)
PC-AL-0032-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/19/2009
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 56] (M.D. Ala.)
PC-AL-0032-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/08/2009
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Consent Protective Order [ECF# 59] (M.D. Ala.)
PC-AL-0032-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/08/2009
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 120] (M.D. Ala.)
PC-AL-0032-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/13/2010
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 143] (M.D. Ala.)
PC-AL-0032-0010.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/16/2010
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Settlement Agreement
PC-AL-0032-0011.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/19/2011
Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
Order [ECF# 152] (M.D. Ala.)
PC-AL-0032-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/20/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 155] (M.D. Ala.)
PC-AL-0032-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/30/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Capel, Wallace Jr. (M.D. Ala.)
PC-AL-0032-9000
Watkins, William Keith Court not on record
PC-AL-0032-0003 | PC-AL-0032-0004 | PC-AL-0032-0005 | PC-AL-0032-0006 | PC-AL-0032-0007 | PC-AL-0032-0009 | PC-AL-0032-0010 | PC-AL-0032-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Geraghty, Sarah E. (Georgia)
PC-AL-0032-0001 | PC-AL-0032-0002 | PC-AL-0032-0011 | PC-AL-0032-9000
Kung, Lisa L. (Georgia)
PC-AL-0032-0001 | PC-AL-0032-9000
McKinney, Rebekah Keith (Alabama)
PC-AL-0032-0011 | PC-AL-0032-9000
Velez, Melanie (Georgia)
PC-AL-0032-0001 | PC-AL-0032-0002 | PC-AL-0032-0011 | PC-AL-0032-9000
Watson, Herman Jr. (Alabama)
PC-AL-0032-0011 | PC-AL-0032-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Boyd, David R. (Alabama)
PC-AL-0032-0011 | PC-AL-0032-9000
Calligas, Louis Michael (Alabama)
PC-AL-0032-0011 | PC-AL-0032-9000
Harmon, Bart Gregory (Alabama)
PC-AL-0032-0011 | PC-AL-0032-9000
Hill, Anne A. (Alabama)
PC-AL-0032-0011 | PC-AL-0032-9000
Smith, John Garland (Alabama)
PC-AL-0032-0011 | PC-AL-0032-9000
Thomas, Kim Tobias (Alabama)
PC-AL-0032-9000

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