University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name R.B. v. Livers JI-LA-0011
Docket / Court 2:12-cv-1502 ( E.D. La. )
Additional Docket(s) 3:12-cv-00679  [ 12-679 ]  Middle District of LA (U.S.)
State/Territory Louisiana
Case Type(s) Juvenile Institution
Case Summary
On June 13, 2012, three minors and one adult in the custody of the Louisiana Office of Juvenile Justice (OJJ) filed this putative class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. The plaintiffs sued OJJ and three OJJ detention centers (the Bridge City, Jetson, ... read more >
On June 13, 2012, three minors and one adult in the custody of the Louisiana Office of Juvenile Justice (OJJ) filed this putative class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. The plaintiffs sued OJJ and three OJJ detention centers (the Bridge City, Jetson, and Swanson Centers for Youth) under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Represented by Families and Friends of Louisiana's Incarcerated Children and the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana, the plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief. The plaintiffs claimed that the defendants denied them access to counsel in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. Specifically, the plaintiffs alleged that OJJ officials obstructed or prevented meetings and communications with counsel and intimidated the plaintiffs so they would not contact counsel. The plaintiffs in this case alleged that OJJ had failed to comply with the access to counsel terms of a prior settlement agreement from 2000.

The prior settlement, entered on August 31, 2000 between a class of juvenile plaintiffs, the Department of Justice, and the State of Louisiana had required the OJJ to provide access to counsel for juveniles under its care. See United States v. Louisiana. Under the settlement, Louisiana agreed to provide meaningful access to methods for contacting counsel, such as telephone and mail access. The State agreed to maintain the confidentiality of these communications. Louisiana also agreed to fund three new staff attorney positions for the Louisiana Indigent Defense Assistance Board and to provide juveniles' records to the juveniles' attorneys in a timely fashion. The 2000 settlement agreement also mandated changes to staffing in OJJ facilities, reporting procedures for physical and sexual abuse, increased protections for detained juveniles' physical and mental health, and the creation of a Youth Programs Compliance Division. A later settlement agreement, signed in 2004, reaffirmed the importance of juveniles' access to attorneys, though it terminated other parts of the 2000 settlement agreement.

In this case, the plaintiffs quickly moved for a preliminary injunction, but District Judge Carl Barbier decided not to consider the plaintiffs’ request until the defendants responded to the complaint. The defendants’ response consisted of a motion to dismiss or change venue; around the same time the plaintiffs moved for class certification. On October 31, 2012, District Judge Carl Barbier granted the defendants’ motion to transfer the case to the United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana. Judge Barbier noted that the defendants and evidence were concentrated in the Middle District and that the case largely overlapped with Williams v. McKeithen, a case in the Middle District from 2000 raising similar claims. 2012 WL 13001042. (That case was later consolidated into United States v. Louisiana, which ended with the 2000 Settlement Agreement mentioned above.)

The case was transferred and assigned to Chief District Judge Brian Jackson on October 31, 2012.

Judge Brian Jackson dismissed the plaintiff's complaint for a lack of subject matter jurisdiction on April 8, 2013. Specifically, the court believed that the plaintiffs had not sufficiently alleged that they would be able to pursue non-frivolous legal claims if barriers to court access were removed. The plaintiffs requested that Judge Jackson reconsider this dismissal, and the court reversed its prior judgment a little less than a year later, on March 31, 2014. The court found that the incorrect legal standard had been applied in its earlier analysis and that the court had incorrectly looked beyond the question of subject matter jurisdiction when it dismissed the complaint. 2014 WL 1328000. The defendants appealed Judge Jackson's ruling. On April 30, 2014 -- before the 5th Circuit had heard arguments on the motion to reconsider -- the parties filed a joint motion to dismiss, which was granted on May 1, 2014. The Clearinghouse does not know if the parties settled outside of court, but there has been no further activity on the docket, and the case is likely now closed.

Denise Heberle - 06/20/2012
Olivia Wheeling - 10/25/2019


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Freedom of speech/association
Disability
Mental impairment
General
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Counseling
Education
Juveniles
Visiting
Medical/Mental Health
Mental health care, unspecified
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Ex parte Young (federal or state officials)
Defendant(s) Bridge City Center for Youth (BCCY)
Jetson Center for Youth
Louisiana Office of Juvenile Justice
Swanson Center for Youth
Plaintiff Description Children confined in various Louisiana Centers for Youth and in custody at privete secured facilities who have been denied accesss to courts.
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Moot
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Unknown
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Unknown
Source of Relief Unknown
Filing Year 2012
Case Ongoing No reason to think so
Case Listing PC-LA-0001 : Williams v. McKeithen (M.D. La.)
JI-LA-0001 : United States v. Louisiana (M.D. La.)
Docket(s)
2:12-CV-1502 (E.D. La.)
JI-LA-0011-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/31/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
3:12-cv-00679 (M.D. La.)
JI-LA-0011-9001.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/07/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint-Class Action
JI-LA-0011-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/13/2012
Plaintiffs' Memorandum of Law in Suport of Motion for Immediate Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 4]
JI-LA-0011-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/20/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification [ECF# 19]
JI-LA-0011-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/19/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 34] (2012 WL 13001042) (E.D. La.)
JI-LA-0011-0006.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 10/31/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Ruling [ECF# 53] (M.D. La.)
JI-LA-0011-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/25/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Ruling and Order [ECF# 59] (M.D. La.)
JI-LA-0011-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/31/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Barbier, Carl J. (E.D. La.) show/hide docs
JI-LA-0011-0006 | JI-LA-0011-9000
Jackson, Brian Anthony (M.D. La.) show/hide docs
JI-LA-0011-0004 | JI-LA-0011-0005 | JI-LA-0011-9001
Wilkinson, Joseph C. Jr. (E.D. La.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
JI-LA-0011-0002 | JI-LA-0011-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Grey, Michael Henry (Louisiana) show/hide docs
JI-LA-0011-0003 | JI-LA-0011-9000
Kolinchak, Carol (Louisiana) show/hide docs
JI-LA-0011-0001 | JI-LA-0011-0002 | JI-LA-0011-0003 | JI-LA-0011-9000 | JI-LA-0011-9001
Pic, Sarah Virginia (Louisiana) show/hide docs
JI-LA-0011-9000
Rittenberg, William E. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
JI-LA-0011-0001 | JI-LA-0011-0002 | JI-LA-0011-9000 | JI-LA-0011-9001
Williams, John S (Louisiana) show/hide docs
JI-LA-0011-0001 | JI-LA-0011-0002 | JI-LA-0011-0003 | JI-LA-0011-9000 | JI-LA-0011-9001
Defendant's Lawyers Glazer, Phyllis Esther (Louisiana) show/hide docs
JI-LA-0011-9000 | JI-LA-0011-9001
Keller, Michael Courtney (Louisiana) show/hide docs
JI-LA-0011-9000 | JI-LA-0011-9001

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