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Case Name Gray v. County of Riverside JC-CA-0105
Docket / Court 5:13-cv-00444 ( C.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Special Collection California's Prisoners' Rights Bar article
Post-WalMart decisions on class certification
Attorney Organization Prison Law Office
Case Summary
On May 8, 2013, three prisoners in Riverside county jails filed this class-action lawsuit in the US District Court for the Central District of California. The plaintiffs sued the County of Riverside (California) under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiffs alleged that the access to both physical and ... read more >
On May 8, 2013, three prisoners in Riverside county jails filed this class-action lawsuit in the US District Court for the Central District of California. The plaintiffs sued the County of Riverside (California) under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiffs alleged that the access to both physical and mental healthcare was so deficient that it violated the Eighth Amendment proscription of cruel and unusual punishment, violated prisoners' Fourteenth Amendment rights, and constituted deliberate indifference to prisoners' health needs. The class was divided into two subclasses, termed the Medical Subclass and the Mental Health Subclass, though the classes were not mutually exclusive. Represented by the Prison Law Office, the plaintiffs sought attorneys' fees, declaratory relief, and an injunction requiring the county to develop a plan to address the deficiencies of its jails' healthcare system and to provide at least minimally adequate health care.

According to the plaintiffs, some prisoners were told that doctors would only see those with court orders and that Sheriffs' deputies sometimes refused to provide forms. Prisoners had no other way to acquire or file forms. The plaintiffs alleged that in order to get access to healthcare they frequently needed to get court orders, file grievances, and file Health Need Requests (which cost $3), all of which they said were frequently ignored.

By California state law a grand jury evaluates county jails every year. The June 14, 2012, Riverside County Grand Jury Report stated "In July, 2011, DMH was advised. . . .that the medical/mental health staffing levels in county jails needed to be restored to 2007 levels, in order to be in compliance with [state law]. As of this writing, the Grand Jury learned through sworn testimony that during the eight months following the 2010-2011 Grand Jury report, DMH staffing levels were allowed to decrease even further." As of May 31, 2012, only two of the five full-time physician positions in the jails were filled, and the county had multiple vacancies for nurses and nurse supervisors; only 65 of 101 total Detention Health Services positions were filled. Because of these vacancies, the plaintiffs alleged, medication distribution was erratic and doses were often supplied at irregular times or missed entirely. The plaintiffs also alleged that many prisoners received psychotropic drugs when their medical records were illegible or contained no treatment plan, monitoring, or other indications the treatment with the drugs was necessary, and sometimes with no record of informed consent.

On April 30, 2013, the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint adding a fourth named plaintiff. On August 20, 2014 the plaintiffs filed a second amended complaint adding factual allegations and plaintiffs. 2014 WL 5304915 (C.D. Cal. Sept. 2, 2014).

On September 2, 2014, Judge Virginia Phillips granted the plaintiffs' motion for class certification and denied the defendants' motion to dismiss. The defendants wanted to appeal the class certification, but Judge Phillips denied the petition for permission to appeal the order granting class action certification.

After settlement negotiations, the parties agreed to resolve the litigation without trial. The parties agreed that certain closely related claims relating to disability
discrimination were also appropriate for resolution in this case and the plaintiffs field an amended complaint on November 24, 2015.

On December 22, 2015, Judge Phillips granted the parties' motion for preliminary approval of their proposed class action settlement agreement. On April 28, 2016, Judge Phillips granted final approval of the agreement. The Consent Decree included a Remedial Plan designed to meet the minimum level of health care necessary to comply with the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, as well as to ensure non-discrimination against inmates with disabilities as required by the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. For example, the defendants agreed to provide, among other things: (1) confidential screening for health care concerns for all new inmates; (2) readily available health care request forms; (3) daily collection and triage of health care request forms, with urgent concerns seen the same day and routine concerns seen within 72 hours; (4) confidential settings in which medical and mental health care encounters can take place; (5) pill call twice a day at regular times; (6) maintenance of medical and mental health information in a single electronic record; (7) sufficient medical and mental health staff available to ensure compliance with the Remedial Plan; (8) timely and appropriate care for chronic care patients and those in need of specialty services; and (9) a full range of structured mental health treatment options, including thorough assessments, group and individual therapy, psychotropic medications, and designated housing with specialized programming.

The defendants also agreed to submit a status report to plaintiffs' counsel every six months detailing their compliance with the Consent Decree and their implementation of the Remedial Plan. The parties also agreed to have two court-appointed experts complete two comprehensive reviews and reports during the first year of the Consent Decree and subsequent reports as needed or requested.

The duration of the Consent Decree was set at four years from the date of its entry, with the option to extend any provision with which the defendants are not in substantial compliance. The defendants agreed to pay the plaintiffs $1,250,000 in attorneys' fees and expenses. Additionally, the parties agreed that the plaintiffs would be compensated for their reasonable time and reasonable expenses relating to monitoring and enforcing the Consent Decree (not to exceed $150,000).

As of January 3, 2019, the term of the Consent Decree is still ongoing. The docket does not reflect any monitoring activity.

Kenneth Gray - 06/26/2013
Jessica Kincaid - 10/15/2015
Eva Richardson - 01/03/2019


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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
Hire
Other requirements regarding hiring, promotion, retention
Defendant-type
Corrections
Disability
disability, unspecified
General
Conditions of confinement
Informed consent/involuntary medication
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Medical/Mental Health
Dental care
Medical care, general
Medication, administration of
Suicide prevention
Untreated pain
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Riverside County
Plaintiff Description Four current or former prisoners of Riverside county jails affected by the jails' inadequate access to healthcare filing on behalf of all similarly situated individuals.
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 Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2016 - 2020
Filing Year 2013
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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Docket(s)
5:13−cv−00444 (C.D. Cal.)
JC-CA-0105-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/11/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief
JC-CA-0105-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/08/2013
Riverside Prisoners Sue over Dangerous Jail Conditions
JC-CA-0105-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/18/2013
First Amended Class action Complaint for Injunctive and Declarative Relief [ECF# 8] (2013 WL 2455092)
JC-CA-0105-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 04/30/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Second Amended Class Action Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief [ECF# 129]
JC-CA-0105-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/20/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification; Denying Defendant's Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 131] (2014 WL 5304915) (C.D. Cal.)
JC-CA-0105-0005.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 09/02/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Third Amended Complaint [ECF# 150]
JC-CA-0105-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/24/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Consent Decree [ECF# 173]
JC-CA-0105-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/24/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Parada, Oswald (C.D. Cal.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
JC-CA-0105-9000
Phillips, Virginia A. (C.D. Cal.) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0105-0005 | JC-CA-0105-0007 | JC-CA-0105-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Appleby-Bhattacharjee, Saurish (California) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0105-9000
Bhattacharjee, Saurish (California) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0105-0004
Crockett, Danielle (California) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0105-0004
Freedman, Anya J. (California) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0105-0001 | JC-CA-0105-9000
George, Warren E. Jr. (California) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0105-0004
Ginty, Danielle C. (California) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0105-0006 | JC-CA-0105-9000
Gregory, Nicholas (California) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0105-0004 | JC-CA-0105-0006
Hanson, Shawn A. (California) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0105-0001 | JC-CA-0105-0002 | JC-CA-0105-0003 | JC-CA-0105-0004 | JC-CA-0105-0006 | JC-CA-0105-9000
Kurlekar, Amit (California) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0105-0001 | JC-CA-0105-0002 | JC-CA-0105-9000
Morris, Kelsey (California) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0105-0004 | JC-CA-0105-9000
Norman, Sara Linda (California) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0105-0001 | JC-CA-0105-0002 | JC-CA-0105-0004 | JC-CA-0105-0006 | JC-CA-0105-0007 | JC-CA-0105-9000
Specter, Donald H. (California) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0105-0001 | JC-CA-0105-0002 | JC-CA-0105-0003 | JC-CA-0105-0004 | JC-CA-0105-0006 | JC-CA-0105-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Brown, James E. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0105-9000
Cunningham, Arthur Kenneth (California) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0105-0007 | JC-CA-0105-9000
Lockwood, Christopher D (California) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0105-9000
Tanada, Stephanie Joy M (California) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0105-9000

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