On July 25, 1983, the female inmates of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections at Muncy filed a class action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Scranton Division. The plaintiffs, ...
read more >
On July 25, 1983, the female inmates of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections at Muncy filed a class action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Scranton Division. The plaintiffs, represented by attorneys from Women's Law Project and American Civil Rights Union, asked the court for equitable relief.
The plaintiffs' claims are based on sex discrimination, unsafe conditions of confinement, violations of their due process rights, and interference with their religious freedom. Specifically, the plaintiffs claimed that the programs, services and facilities for female inmates were inferior to those afforded male prisoners in Pennsylvania correctional institutions.
On June 30, 1986, in a published opinion by Chief Judge William J. Nealon, the Court concluded that because of the claim preclusive aspect of the res judicata doctrine, plaintiffs in this case are precluded from asserting the majority of their § 1983 and federal constitutional claims. In the current action, many of the plaintiffs' claims involve the same causes of action raised and made part of the consent decree in an earlier case, Imprisoned Citizens Union v. Shapp, Case Nos. 70-2545, 70-3054, 71-0513, 71-1006 (E.D.Pa.) ("I.C.U.") (posted on this site at PC-PA-0005). However, the Court also concluded that those causes of action based on physical safety hazards, a lack of privacy, gender discrimination and reliance on unreliable urine tests are not precluded in this case.
On January 10, 1992, Judge Edwin M. Kosik concluded that the 8th Amendment constitutional right of the plaintiffs was not violated. Accordingly, the plaintiff's claim for equitable relief was denied. At some point in this case, the parties reached a settlement (referred to as "stipulation" in the Docket) and it was approved by Judge Edwin M. Kosik. However, the details of the settlement cannot be reproduced and verified at this moment. Plaintiffs were also awarded counsel fees and costs from the defendants in the amount of $545,327.49 at the end of the case.
Plaintiffs appealed the case to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. In March, 1993, the Court of Appeals denied appellants' request for a rehearing and affirmed the judgment of the District Court.Xin Chen - 03/30/2011