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Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Mitchell v. Cate PC-CA-0056
Docket / Court 2:08-cv-01196-RAJ ( E.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Special Collection California's Prisoners' Rights Bar article
Post-PLRA Jail and Prison Private Settlement Agreements
Post-WalMart decisions on class certification
Prison Legal News
Attorney Organization Prison Law Office
Case Summary
On May 21, 2008, a California inmate filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). The plaintiff, originally proceeded pro se but eventually represented by private ... read more >
On May 21, 2008, a California inmate filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). The plaintiff, originally proceeded pro se but eventually represented by private counsel and the Prison Law Center, asked the court for declaratory, injunctive, and monetary damages, alleging that the CDCR acted unconstitutionally by segregating the prisoners by race and locking down an entire race of prisoners. The prison staff had informed the plaintiff that it was the policy of the CDCR that "when there is an incident involving any race, all inmates of that race are locked up."

During court mandated settlement negotiations, Judge Jones temporarily assigned counsel to the plaintiff. That counsel ultimately agreed to represent the plaintiff for the case and filed a leave to amend the complaint in order to transform the case into a class action challenging the allegedly race-based lockdowns throughout California's men's prisons. On September 23, 2011, Magistrate Judge Edmund Brennan granted that motion. 2011 WL 4458784. In the second amended complaint, three additional plaintiffs were added as representatives of a class of all prisoners who were currently or would be in the future subject to the CDCR's policy and practice of implementing race-based lockdowns.

Following the filing of the second amended complaint, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss. On June 28, 2012, in his findings and recommendations, Judge Brennan concluded that the plaintiffs had indeed properly exhausted their grievances under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, so the defendant's motion to dismiss should be largely denied. 2012 WL 2521827. On July 27, 2012, the new district court judge, Judge John Mendez, adopted the findings and recommendations in full. 2012 WL 3070084.

On March 5, 2013, the plaintiffs filed a motion for class certification as well as a motion for a preliminary injunction. The defendants then filed for summary judgment. On February 11, 2014, Judge Troy L. Nunley granted part of the defendants' motion for summary judgment, leaving the following claims: claims for injunctive relief based on Fourteenth Amendment violations, a claim for compensatory damages for violations of Fourteenth Amendment rights, and state law claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, and negligent infliction of emotional distress. 2014 WL 546338.

On June 25, 2014, Judge Nunley denied the plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction finding that the plaintiffs had not met the high burden required to obtain the extraordinary relief sought. 2014 WL 2895232. A month later, Judge Nunley granted the plaintiffs' motion for class certification. 2014 WL 3689287.

On October 20, 2014, the parties entered into a stipulated settlement agreement. Under the terms of the agreement, the CDCR agreed to a number of terms, including: to cease race-based modified programs or lockdowns; to use individualized threat assessment forms to determine who would be retained on a modified program or lockdown; to provide outdoor activity to prisoners in a modified program or lockdown for longer than fourteen days; to revise its policies concerning modified programs and lockdowns, including modifying its definitions; to train its staff; and to provide status reports to plaintiffs' counsel for a defined period of time. The defendants also agreed to pay attorneys fees and costs. The agreement specified that its provisions would control for 18 months after the Court's preliminary approval or 4 months after final approval, whichever was later; plaintiffs could seek 12 months' extension at the end of that period.

The parties sought approval of the agreement on Feb. 27, 2015, and on May 5, 2015, the court granted preliminary approval. Then, the parties jointly moved for final approval on September 10, 2015 which the court granted on October 8, 2015. 2015 WL 5920755. That same day, the court also granted the plaintiffs’ unopposed motion for attorneys’ fees and costs, totaling $2.375 million in attorneys’ fees and costs. 2015 WL 5920797.

On June 2, 2016, the parties jointly proposed an order of dismissal of this action with prejudice. The following day, Judge Nunley dismissed the case with prejudice while retaining jurisdiction to enforce the terms of the agreement until the settlement agreement ends. The agreement was to last 18 months after preliminary approval, leaving the settlement to terminate on November 5, 2016.

On December 20, 2016, the parties filed notice that the court’s jurisdiction to enforce the settlement agreement had terminated and that the case was dismissed with prejudice in its entirety. The case is now closed.

Jessica Kincaid - 08/04/2014
Priyah Kaul - 11/27/2014
Jake Parker - 07/05/2018


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process
Equal Protection
Content of Injunction
Discrimination Prohibition
Goals and Timekeeping
Implement complaint/dispute resolution process
Monitoring
Provide antidiscrimination training
Reporting
Defendant-type
Corrections
Discrimination-basis
Race discrimination
General
Classification / placement
Excessive force
Grievance Procedures
Over/Unlawful Detention
Racial segregation
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Race
Black
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
Plaintiff Description Four African-American prisoners under the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Prison Law Office
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 Private Settlement Agreement
Order Duration 2015 - 2016
Filing Year 2008
Case Closing Year 2016
Case Ongoing No
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 ]

  Prison Legal News Homepage
Prison Legal News
By: Prison Legal News
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
2:08−cv−01196 (E.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0056-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/20/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Violation of Civil Rights and Demand for Jury Trial [ECF# 1]
PC-CA-0056-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/21/2008
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Granting Request to Proceed In Forma Pauperis] [ECF# 8] (2009 WL 1507147) (E.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0056-0002.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 05/26/2009
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint for Violation of Civil Rights and Demand for Jury Trial [ECF# 37]
PC-CA-0056-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/07/2010
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order on Motions [ECF# 42] (E.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0056-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/06/2010
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order on Motions [ECF# 44] (2010 WL 3835765) (E.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0056-0005.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 09/28/2010
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting Leave to Amend [ECF# 83] (2011 WL 4458784) (E.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0056-0006.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 09/22/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Second Amended Complaint [ECF# 84]
PC-CA-0056-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/23/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Denying Defendants' Motion for Reconsideration [ECF# 91] (C.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0056-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/27/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Findings and Recommendations [ECF# 107] (2012 WL 2521827)
PC-CA-0056-0009.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 06/28/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Adopting Findings and Recommendations] [ECF# 114] (2012 WL 3070084) (E.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0056-0010.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 07/27/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Eldon Vail's Expert Report and Supplemental Declaration in Support of Plaintiff's’ Motion for Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 188]
PC-CA-0056-0020.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/15/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Craig Haney's Expert Report and Declaration in Support of Plaintiffs’ Motion for Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 189]
PC-CA-0056-0021.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/15/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Joseph McGrath's Expert Report and Declaration in Support of Plaintiffs’ Motion for Preliminary Injuction [ECF# 190]
PC-CA-0056-0022.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/15/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment [ECF# 317] (2014 WL 546338) (E.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0056-0011.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 02/07/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Denying Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 328] (2014 WL 2895232) (E.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0056-0012.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 06/24/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification [ECF# 329] (2014 WL 3689287) (E.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0056-0013.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 07/21/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Stipulated Settlement
PC-CA-0056-0014.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 10/20/2014
Order Granting Preliminary Approval of Class Action Settlement [ECF# 339] (E.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0056-0016.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/04/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting Final Approval of Class Action Settlement [ECF# 376] (2015 WL 5920755) (E.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0056-0017.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 10/07/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting Attorneys' Fees [ECF# 377] (2015 WL 5920797) (E.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0056-0018.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 10/07/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Joint Stipulation of Dismissal of Action with Prejudice Pursuant to FRCP 41(A) and Order [ECF# 388] (E.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0056-0019.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/02/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Brennan, Edmund F. Court not on record [Magistrate]
PC-CA-0056-0006 | PC-CA-0056-0009 | PC-CA-0056-9000
Jones, Richard A. (W.D. Wash.)
PC-CA-0056-0002 | PC-CA-0056-0004 | PC-CA-0056-0005
Mendez, John A. (E.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0056-0008 | PC-CA-0056-0010
Nunley, Troy Lynne (E.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0056-0011 | PC-CA-0056-0012 | PC-CA-0056-0013 | PC-CA-0056-0016 | PC-CA-0056-0017 | PC-CA-0056-0018 | PC-CA-0056-0019 | PC-CA-0056-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Evenson, Rebekah B. (California)
PC-CA-0056-0007 | PC-CA-0056-0014 | PC-CA-0056-9000
Flairty, Matthew (California)
PC-CA-0056-9000
George, Warren E. Jr. (California)
PC-CA-0056-9000
Holtz, Geoffrey Thomas (California)
PC-CA-0056-0014 | PC-CA-0056-0019 | PC-CA-0056-9000
Pradhan, Aman (California)
PC-CA-0056-9000
Radke, Brendan Eugene (California)
PC-CA-0056-0019 | PC-CA-0056-9000
Shook, Heather L. (California)
PC-CA-0056-9000
Specter, Donald H. (California)
PC-CA-0056-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Becker, Christopher James (California)
PC-CA-0056-9000
Des Jardins, Michelle A (California)
PC-CA-0056-9000
Harris, Mark A. (California)
PC-CA-0056-9000
Kirschenbauer, Marisa Yee (California)
PC-CA-0056-9000
Lien, Grant (California)
PC-CA-0056-9000
McClain, Damon Grant (California)
PC-CA-0056-0014 | PC-CA-0056-0019 | PC-CA-0056-9000
Mossler, Julianne (California)
PC-CA-0056-9000
Sullivan, Erin B. (California)
PC-CA-0056-9000
Other Lawyers Abrams, Hanna (California)
PC-CA-0056-9000
Coon, Laura (District of Columbia)
PC-CA-0056-9000
Fox, Benjamin Jonathan (California)
PC-CA-0056-9000

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