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Case Name Holmes v. Godinez PC-IL-0028
Docket / Court 1:11-cv-02961 ( N.D. Ill. )
State/Territory Illinois
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Prison Conditions
Special Collection Post-PLRA enforceable consent decrees
Post-WalMart decisions on class certification
Attorney Organization NDRN/Protection & Advocacy Organizations
Uptown People's Law Center
Case Summary
On May 04, 2011, deaf and hard of hearing prisoners filed a class action in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois against the officials at the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Represented by a group of public and private lawyers, the ... read more >
On May 04, 2011, deaf and hard of hearing prisoners filed a class action in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois against the officials at the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Represented by a group of public and private lawyers, the plaintiffs alleged that, while in IDOC custody, they were denied the assistance they needed to effectively communicate and participate in IDOC programs and services, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Rehabilitation Act, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, and the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. The plaintiffs sought certification of a class consisting of all prisoners who were deaf or hard of hearing, as well as declaratory and injunctive relief.

For nearly the first two years, the parties were involved in settlement talks. However, in April of 2013 the settlement status hearings came to an end and discovery commenced. On October 10, 2014, the parties began settlement talks once more.

The parties were unable to come to a settlement agreement and recommenced discovery as of April 13, 2015. On October 8, 2015, Judge Marvin E. Aspen released an order granting the plaintiffs' class action certification. He also denied in part and granted in part the defendant's motion for summary judgement, but only dismissed the plaintiffs' claim of cruel and unusual punishment as it pertained to "communicative isolation." The rest of the plaintiffs' claims stood as the case proceeded.

Additionally, in June of 2015 the plaintiffs filed a motion to compel supplemental discovery as to the death of a named plaintiff, who they claimed died of a burst appendix because he was unable to communicate with corrections officers. Though the defendants resisted this discovery, they were ordered to produce it by an order from the Magistrate Judge Young B. Kim on December 18, 2015.

In 2016, the case moved towards trial. On August 2, 2016, Judge Aspen denied the plaintiffs' six motions in limine seeking to preclude multiple defense exhibits and witnesses. Judge Aspen also denied the defendants' two motions in limine seeking to bar plaintiffs' deposition testimony and certain exhibits and witnesses. He reopened discovery through October 10, 2016, to allow for inquiry into current prison conditions and for Plaintiffs to depose any newly disclosed defense witnesses.

In September of 2016, the plaintiffs filed a motion to compel responses new discovery requests, which was granted on November 17, 2016. After several additional months of discovery, the parties agreed to resume settlement discussions. The first one was held before Magistrate Judge Kim on April 5, 2017, and it was followed by ten subsequent conferences over the course of the next year. On April 30, 2018, the court granted the plaintiffs' motion for preliminary approval of the settlement agreement.

Under the terms of the settlement, IDOC agreed to:
(1) adopt a policy and procedure for identifying deaf and hard of hearing inmates through hearing screening and audiological evaluations;
(2) create and maintain a centralized database of deaf and hard of hearing inmates;
(3) issue deaf and hard of hearing inmate identification cards;
(4) perform auxiliary aids and services assessments for deaf and hard of hearing inmates;
(5) provide preliminary accommodations prior to auxiliary aids and services assessments;
(6) maintain auxiliary aids and services assessments and implement individualized inmate communication plans;
(7) conduct IDOC staff training on matters regarding deaf and hard of hearing inmates;
(8) provide deaf and hard of hearing accommodations at inmate orientation;
(9) make certain communication devices/technologies available;
(10) make television accessible for deaf and hard of hearing inmates;
(11) implement a tactile notification system;
(12) ensure equal access to prison employment;
(13) remove hand restraints for deaf and hard of hearing inmates when they are communicating through ASL;
(14) ensure that inmates are not transferred solely because of their deaf or hard of hearing status and consider requests of deaf or hard of hearing individuals to be housed together; and
(15) create and disseminate materials memorializing deaf and hard of hearing inmates' rights.

The settlement agreement stipulated that the court and class counsel would monitor compliance with the settlement agreement. The parties agreed that IDOC would pay class counsel $1,500,000 in attorneys' fees and costs. The court retained jurisdiction to interpret and enforce the settlement agreement for not less than two years following the effective date.

The court required that IDOC provide notice to the class members by May 26, 2018 and set a fairness hearing for July 26, 2018. Following the class members' objections, the plaintiffs filed a motion for final approval of the class settlement agreement and in opposition to those objections. Following the fairness hearing on July 26, 2018, Judge Aspen granted the parties' joint motion for final approval of the class settlement, finding that the settlement was fair, reasonable, adequate, and in the best interests of the class.

On August 6, 2018, the parties filed a joint status report outlining the specific dates by when IDOC must complete certain steps under the class settlement. The case is ongoing.

Xin Chen - 06/22/2011
Jessica Kincaid - 02/27/2015
Kat Brausch - 04/13/2016
Eva Richardson - 10/14/2018


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Male
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process
Equal Protection
Free Exercise Clause
Freedom of speech/association
Content of Injunction
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Discrimination Prohibition
Monitor/Master
Monitoring
Provide antidiscrimination training
Reasonable Accommodation
Training
Defendant-type
Corrections
Disability
Hearing impairment
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Communication skills
Conditions of confinement
Disparate Treatment
Reasonable Accommodations
Screen readers and similar accessibility devices
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
Religious Freedom Rest. Act/Religious Land Use and Inst. Persons Act (RFRA/RLUIPA)
Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701
Defendant(s) Illinois
Plaintiff Description Deaf and hard of hearing prisoners in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations NDRN/Protection & Advocacy Organizations
Uptown People's Law Center
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se No
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 2018 - 2020
Filing Year 2011
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  Civil Rights Injunctions Over Time: A Case Study of Jail and Prison Court Orders
N.Y.U. Law Review
Date: May 2006
By: Margo Schlanger (Washington University Faculty)
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
Book
Date: Jan. 1, 1998
By: Malcolm M. Feeley & Edward Rubin (UC Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law & Vanderbilt School of Law Faculty Faculty)
Citation: (1998)
[ Detail ]

Docket(s)
1:11-cv-02961 (N.D. Ill.)
PC-IL-0028-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/21/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint [ECF# 1]
PC-IL-0028-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/04/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Order (311 F.R.D. 177) (N.D. Ill.)
PC-IL-0028-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 10/08/2015
Source: Bloomberg Law
Memorandum Opinion and Order [ECF# 342] (2016 WL 4091625) (N.D. Ill.)
PC-IL-0028-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 08/02/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum in Support of Joint Motion for Preliminary Approval of Class Settlement Agreement [ECF# 436]
PC-IL-0028-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/23/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Joint Status Report [ECF# 455]
PC-IL-0028-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/06/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Aspen, Marvin E. (N.D. Ill.)
PC-IL-0028-0002 | PC-IL-0028-0003
Kim, Young B (N.D. Ill.)
PC-IL-0028-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Antholt, Amanda C. (Illinois)
PC-IL-0028-9000
Chung, Jin-Ho (Illinois)
PC-IL-0028-9000
Dunigan, Ryan Marc (Illinois)
PC-IL-0028-9000
James, Jennifer (Illinois)
PC-IL-0028-0004 | PC-IL-0028-0005
Mazur, Elizabeth N (Illinois)
PC-IL-0028-0005 | PC-IL-0028-9000
McCarthy, Mary Teresa (Illinois)
PC-IL-0028-9000
McCormick, Kevin P. (Illinois)
PC-IL-0028-9000
Michels, Robert L. (Illinois)
PC-IL-0028-0001 | PC-IL-0028-0004 | PC-IL-0028-0005 | PC-IL-0028-9000
Miller, Laura J. (Illinois)
PC-IL-0028-0004 | PC-IL-0028-0005 | PC-IL-0028-9000
Mills, Alan S. (Illinois)
PC-IL-0028-0004 | PC-IL-0028-0005 | PC-IL-0028-9000
Moss, Kate Watson (Illinois)
PC-IL-0028-0004 | PC-IL-0028-0005
Motto, Joseph Laurence (Illinois)
PC-IL-0028-9000
Pendry, Lucas T (Illinois)
PC-IL-0028-9000
Peterson, Amy F. (Illinois)
PC-IL-0028-0004 | PC-IL-0028-0005 | PC-IL-0028-9000
Rosenblum, Howard A (Maryland)
PC-IL-0028-0004 | PC-IL-0028-0005 | PC-IL-0028-9000
Ross, Joelle Lynn (Illinois)
PC-IL-0028-9000
Schult, Nicole (Illinois)
PC-IL-0028-0004 | PC-IL-0028-0005
Shadley, Frederic Charles (Illinois)
PC-IL-0028-9000
Taylor, Barry Charlton (Illinois)
PC-IL-0028-0004 | PC-IL-0028-0005 | PC-IL-0028-9000
Verma, Nisha (Illinois)
PC-IL-0028-9000
Weisberg, Rachel M. (Illinois)
PC-IL-0028-0004 | PC-IL-0028-0005 | PC-IL-0028-9000
Wrigley, Nicole E. (Illinois)
PC-IL-0028-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Arnold, Michael D. (Illinois)
PC-IL-0028-0004 | PC-IL-0028-0005 | PC-IL-0028-9000
Ioppolo, Thomas A. (Illinois)
PC-IL-0028-9000
Lovellette, Kevin R. (Illinois)
PC-IL-0028-9000
Scheller, Jessica Megan (Illinois)
PC-IL-0028-9000

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