University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Nunez and United States v. City of New York JC-NY-0055
Docket / Court 1:11-cv-05845-LTS-THK ( S.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Special Collection Solitary confinement
Attorney Organization Legal Services/Legal Aid
Case Summary
On August 18, 2011, a class of prisoners filed this lawsuit in the District Court for the Southern District of New York under 42 U.S.C. 1983 for cruel and unusual punishment against the New York City Department of Corrections (DOC). The plaintiffs, represented by the Legal Aid Society and pro bono ... read more >
On August 18, 2011, a class of prisoners filed this lawsuit in the District Court for the Southern District of New York under 42 U.S.C. 1983 for cruel and unusual punishment against the New York City Department of Corrections (DOC). The plaintiffs, represented by the Legal Aid Society and pro bono private counsel, asked the court for declaratory relief, injunctive relief, and damages, claiming that DOC officers routinely inflicted wanton physical violence on prisoners and deliberately falsified records to prevent discovery of their illegal actions.

Claims against the New York City DOC have been numerous and often successful over the past twenty-five years (Fisher v. Koehler, Reynolds v. Ward, Jackson v. Montemango, Sheppard v. Phoenix, Ingles v. Toro). The plaintiffs claimed that former policies were reinstituted as soon as the injunctions expired, or that the injunctions were interpreted narrowly enough to provide room for explicit cruelty. The plaintiffs claimed that officers frequently took prisoners to areas without video cameras or other witnesses, and then beat them. The plaintiffs claimed to have suffered multiple injuries as a result of these abuses, including broken bones, concussions, and other emergency conditions requiring hospitalization and surgery. Finally, the plaintiffs claimed that the defendants routinely falsified documents or fabricated disciplinary charges to cover up their own unlawful conduct or that of their colleagues. The city often would allegedly promote the worst offenders.

On January 7, 2013, the Court (Magistrate Judge James C. Francis IV) granted class certification to the plaintiffs, defining the class as: all present and future inmates confined in jails operated by the New York City DOC, except for the Elmhurst and Bellevue Prison Wards.

Meanwhile, on January 12, 2012, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York informed the city that they were undertaking an investigation of the prison conditions on Rikers Island under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act. The DOJ issued a findings letter in that matter, reporting the frequent use of excessive force, inadequate systematic supervision, and prolonged punitive solitary confinement on August 4, 2014. A press release is available on the Department of Justice's website. That is discussed in case JC-NY-0062 in this Clearinghouse.

On December 18, 2014, the Department of Justice filed a motion seeking permission to intervene in this case and pursue its action under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act. The Court granted the unopposed motion to intervene on December 23, 2014. Settlement negotiations were immediately initiated.

On July 1, 2015, the plaintiffs filed a motion to approve a consent settlement. The DOJ issued a statement on their website the same day. The consent settlement included provisions completely prohibiting certain types of force. The DOC also agreed to report all incidents where the staff used force on a prisoner. All Use of Force incidents resulting in major injuries to the prisoner resulted in a mandatory video-recorded interview of the injured prisoner and other witnesses, and referred for an investigation to the Investigation Division of the DOC. The DOC agreed to install 7,800 wall-mounted cameras and at least 100 body-worn or hand-held cameras to facilitate the investigations. Staff that violate the use of force guidelines will be disciplined, up to termination. Staff could not be promoted if they had a poor disciplinary use of force record or a pending disciplinary investigation.

The DOC agreed to no longer put prisoners under 18 in any punitive isolation. Prisons housing youth were required to have certain staffing levels and routine examination of the premises to ensure security and safety of the prisoners. The DOC also agreed to begin searching for an alternative location, off Rikers Island, for prisoners under 18.

Finally, the parties agreed to a monitor, who visited the prisons and wrote a progress report every four months, penologist Steve Martin.

On October 21, 2015, the Court (Judge Laura Taylor Swain) approved the consent judgment and implementation began.

The monitor has since filed seven reports; the most recent one was filed on October 17, 2018. As of January 11, 2019, implementation of the consent judgment is ongoing.

Kya Henley - 04/07/2014
Kathryn DeLong - 09/24/2014
Kathryn DeLong - 10/27/2015
Sam Kulhanek - 02/10/2019


compress summary

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Male
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process
Equal Protection
Content of Injunction
Implement complaint/dispute resolution process
Monitor/Master
Other requirements regarding hiring, promotion, retention
Reporting
Training
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Assault/abuse by residents/inmates/students
Assault/abuse by staff
Conditions of confinement
Disciplinary procedures
Disciplinary segregation
Excessive force
Failure to discipline
Failure to supervise
Failure to train
Grievance Procedures
Incident/accident reporting & investigations
Restraints : chemical
Solitary confinement/Supermax (conditions or process)
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Medical/Mental Health
Mental health care, unspecified
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff
Special Case Type
Out-of-court
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1981
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997 et seq.
Defendant(s) New York City Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description All present and future inmates confined in jails operated by the New York City Department of Corrections, except for the Elmhurst and Bellevue Prison Wards.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Legal Services/Legal Aid
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
Filing Year 2011
Case Ongoing Yes
Case Listing JC-NY-0062 : CRIPA investigation of NYC Department of Correction Jails on Rikers Island (No Court)
JC-NY-0005 : case name not on file (court not recorded)
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  An Analysis of CRIPA Findings Letters Issued to Jails for Constitutional Violations by the Department of Justice
Date: Apr. 15, 2016
By: Jeff Mellow, Bryce E. Peterson & Mijin Kim (John Jay College of Criminal Justice Faculty)
Citation: Am. J. Crim. Just. (April 2016)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
1:11-cv-05845-LTS-JCF (S.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0055-9001.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/21/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 2]
JC-NY-0055-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/18/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amended Complaint [ECF# 15]
JC-NY-0055-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/24/2012
Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
Second Amended Complaint [Jury Trial Demanded] [ECF# 34]
JC-NY-0055-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/30/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Stipulation and Order [Granting Class Certification] [ECF# 61] (S.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0055-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/07/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum and Order [Scope of Discovery] [ECF# 88] (2013 WL 2149869) (S.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0055-0005.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 05/17/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
RE: CRIPA Investigation of the New York City Department of Correction Jails on Rikers Island
JC-NY-0055-0011.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/04/2014
Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
United States' Proposed Complaint in Intervention [ECF# 178]
JC-NY-0055-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/11/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
United States' Motion to Intervene Pursuant to the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Person Act 42 U.SC. § 1997 [With Supporting Brief Attached] [ECF# 179]
JC-NY-0055-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/11/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
[Letter informing judge of settlement]
JC-NY-0055-0008.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 06/22/2015
Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
Consent Judgment [Proposed] [ECF# 209-1]
JC-NY-0055-0010.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/01/2015
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Consent Judgment [Approved] [ECF# 249] (S.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0055-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/21/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Fourth Report of the Nunez Independent Monitor [ECF# 305]
JC-NY-0055-0012.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/10/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Special Report of the Nunez Independent Monitor [ECF# 309]
JC-NY-0055-0013.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/05/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Fifth Report of the Nunez Independent Monitor [ECF# 311]
JC-NY-0055-0014.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/18/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Sixth Report of the Nunez Independent Monitor [ECF# 317]
JC-NY-0055-0015.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/17/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Francis, James C. IV (S.D.N.Y.) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-0004 | JC-NY-0055-0005 | JC-NY-0055-9001
Swain, Laura Taylor (S.D.N.Y.) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-0009 | JC-NY-0055-9001
Monitors/Masters Dedel, Kelly (Oregon) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-0014 | JC-NY-0055-0015
Martin, Steve J. (Texas) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-0014 | JC-NY-0055-0015
Sparkman, Emmitt L. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-0014 | JC-NY-0055-0015
Plaintiff's Lawyers Abady, Jonathan S. (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-0001 | JC-NY-0055-0003 | JC-NY-0055-0004 | JC-NY-0055-0010 | JC-NY-0055-9001
Bharara, Preetinder S. (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-0006 | JC-NY-0055-0007 | JC-NY-0055-0008 | JC-NY-0055-0011
Bucci, Christina G (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-9001
Chasan, Jonathan S. (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-0001 | JC-NY-0055-0003 | JC-NY-0055-0004 | JC-NY-0055-0010 | JC-NY-0055-9001
Cleemann, Joseph G (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-0001 | JC-NY-0055-0003 | JC-NY-0055-0004 | JC-NY-0055-9001
Conniff, Christopher P (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-0001 | JC-NY-0055-0003 | JC-NY-0055-0004 | JC-NY-0055-9001
Coyle, Lisa Marie (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-9001
Daughtry, Emily E. (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-0006 | JC-NY-0055-0007 | JC-NY-0055-0008 | JC-NY-0055-0011 | JC-NY-0055-9001
Dyer, Susanna G (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-9001
Eshkenazi, Lara K. (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-9001
Friedberg, Anna Elizabeth (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-0014 | JC-NY-0055-0015 | JC-NY-0055-9001
Greenberger, Debra L. (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-9001
Gupta, Vanita (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-0006 | JC-NY-0055-0007
Holder, Eric H. Jr. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-0006 | JC-NY-0055-0007
Horowitz, Hayley (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-9001
Hsu, Caroline Sandra (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-9001
Katznelson, Zachary (Kansas) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-9001
Kellogg, Paul Schuyler (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-9001
Powell, Jeffrey K. (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-0006 | JC-NY-0055-0007 | JC-NY-0055-0008 | JC-NY-0055-0010 | JC-NY-0055-0011 | JC-NY-0055-9001
Raad, Amanda (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-0001 | JC-NY-0055-0003 | JC-NY-0055-0004 | JC-NY-0055-9001
Rosenfeld, Katherine (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-0001 | JC-NY-0055-0003 | JC-NY-0055-0004 | JC-NY-0055-9001
Salzman, Zoe Antonia (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-9001
Samuels, Jocelyn (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-0011
Shapiro, Samuel (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-9001
Sussman, William I (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-0001 | JC-NY-0055-0003 | JC-NY-0055-0004 | JC-NY-0055-0010 | JC-NY-0055-9001
Talla, Vasudha (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-0001 | JC-NY-0055-0003 | JC-NY-0055-0004 | JC-NY-0055-9001
Werlwas, Mary Lynne (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-0001 | JC-NY-0055-0003 | JC-NY-0055-0004 | JC-NY-0055-9001
Defendant's Lawyers Carter, Zachary W. (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-0010
Joyce, Kimberly (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-9001
Koutsoudakis, Andreas (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-9001
Kretz, Walter Aoysius Jr. (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-9001
Larkin, Arthur G. III (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-0004 | JC-NY-0055-9001
Nguyen, Diep (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-9001
Peltz, Alexander (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-9001
Savino, Kimberly (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-0004
Schatz, Julie Pearlman (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-9001
Signorelli, Richard (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-9001
Wien, Howard (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-9001
Other Lawyers Devasia, Cynthia (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-9001

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