University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Cunningham v. Federal Bureau of Prisons PC-CO-0019
Docket / Court 1:12-cv-01570 ( D. Colo. )
State/Territory Colorado
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Prison Conditions
Special Collection Solitary confinement
Attorney Organization Washington Lawyers' Committee
Case Summary
On June 18, 2012, prisoners at ADX-Florence, a "Supermax" facility, filed this class action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Colorado against the Federal Bureau of Prisons and certain BOP officials who are responsible for the operation of ADX. Represented by private ... read more >
On June 18, 2012, prisoners at ADX-Florence, a "Supermax" facility, filed this class action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Colorado against the Federal Bureau of Prisons and certain BOP officials who are responsible for the operation of ADX. Represented by private counsel and the Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, the plaintiffs claimed that the defendants had violated BOP policy and the United States Constitution by failing to properly diagnose and treat prisoners at ADX with serious mental illness. They sought injunctive relief requiring reform of the mental health care system at ADX, among other relief. (At the request of the first named plaintiff, he was withdrawn from the lawsuit and the caption adjusted accordingly.)

On April 23, 2013, Judge Richard P. Matsch denied the defendants' motion to dismiss but did dismiss two defendants who were being sued in the official capacity because their inclusion was redundant.

Later in 2013, the parties began settlement discussions while also undergoing discovery. Individual prisoners also file motions for preliminary injunctions and temporary restraining orders, which were denied by the court. On April 16, 2014, the proceedings were stayed for 60 days with the exception of written discovery, document production, and the continuing settlement conferences at the parties' request. The parties kept extending the stay until February 25, 2015.

On June 15, 2015, the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint. Discovery continued. On November 3, 2015, Judge Matsch held that the CLA had established standing to pursue claims for declaratory and injunctive relief for prisoners with mental illness housed at ADX.

As of February 13, 2016, litigation and settlement negotiations were ongoing.

Denise Heberle - 06/19/2012
Jessica Kincaid - 02/13/2016

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Affected Gender
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Mental impairment
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Solitary confinement/Supermax (conditions or process)
Medical/Mental Health
Mental health care, general
Self-injurious behaviors
Suicide prevention
Untreated pain
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Causes of Action Bivens
Defendant(s) Federal Bureau of Prisons
Plaintiff Description All persons who are now, or will be, incarcerated in the federal Administrative Maximum prison in Florence, Colorado. Also subclass: All class members diagnosed with serious mental illness.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Washington Lawyers' Committee
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Pending
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
Case Listing PC-CO-0020 : Vega v. Davis (D. Colo.)
Additional Resources
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Case Studies 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 ]

  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 ]

Links An American Gulag: Descending into Madness at Supermax
Posted: Jun. 18, 2012
By: Andrew Cohen (The Atlantic)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  SuperMaxLawsuit Website
Posted: Jan. 15, 2016
By: Thomas
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

1:12−cv−01570 (D. Colo.) 02/01/2016
PC-CO-0019-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint 06/18/2012
PC-CO-0019-0001.pdf | Detail
Amended Complaint 06/15/2015
PC-CO-0019-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order on CLA Standing 11/03/2015 (D. Colo.)
PC-CO-0019-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: Bloomberg Law
Judges Hegarty, Michael E. (D. Colo.) [Magistrate]
Matsch, Richard Paul (D. Colo.)
PC-CO-0019-0003 | PC-CO-0019-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Anderson, Robert R. (California)
Arnold, Keri L. (New York)
Aro, Edwin P. (Colorado)
PC-CO-0019-0001 | PC-CO-0019-9000
Falk, Jerome B. (California)
PC-CO-0019-0001 | PC-CO-0019-9000
Fornaci, Phillip Jerome (District of Columbia)
PC-CO-0019-0001 | PC-CO-0019-9000
Garten, Danielle Marie (District of Columbia)
Golden, Deborah Maxine (District of Columbia)
PC-CO-0019-0001 | PC-CO-0019-9000
Kaiser, James Alexander (District of Columbia)
Leiter, Maurice A. (California)
PC-CO-0019-0001 | PC-CO-0019-9000
Morrow, Christopher Scott (District of Columbia)
Mudge, Wilson DeLoss (District of Columbia)
Perkins, Nancy L. (District of Columbia)
Rendon, Veronica E. (New York)
Taylor, Robert Paul (California)
PC-CO-0019-0001 | PC-CO-0019-9000
Welchans, Kelly Ann (California)
Defendant's Lawyers Cohen, Nathalie Erin (Colorado)
Cook, Marcy Elizabeth (Colorado)
PC-CO-0019-0002 | PC-CO-0019-9000
Licht-Steenfat, Jacob (Colorado)
Padden, Amy L. (Colorado)
PC-CO-0019-0002 | PC-CO-0019-9000
Schock, Karl L (Colorado)
Other Lawyers None on record

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