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Case Name Dockery v. Epps PC-MS-0007
Docket / Court 3:13-cv-00326 ( S.D. Miss. )
State/Territory Mississippi
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Special Collection Post-WalMart decisions on class certification
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU National Prison Project
Southern Poverty Law Center
Case Summary
On May 30, 2013, prisoners in the East Mississippi Correctional Facility (EMCF) filed this class-action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi. The plaintiffs sued the Mississippi Department of Corrections commissioner, deputy commissioner, and chief medical ... read more >
On May 30, 2013, prisoners in the East Mississippi Correctional Facility (EMCF) filed this class-action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi. The plaintiffs sued the Mississippi Department of Corrections commissioner, deputy commissioner, and chief medical officer in their official capacities under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiffs, represented by attorneys from the ACLU National Prison Project and the Southern Poverty Law Center, asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as monetary relief, claiming that conditions in the EMCF violated their Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment.

Specifically, the plaintiffs claimed that the living conditions at EMCF, designed to house and treat Mississippi's most seriously mentally ill prisoners, were so inhumane as to cause harm to the inmates through known problems with healthcare, mental healthcare, isolation, excessive force, protection from harm, nutrition, and food safety.

In September 2014, the plaintiffs moved for class certification. While this motion was pending, on October 9, 2014, District Judge Tom S. Lee recused himself and the case was reassigned to District Judge William H. Barbour, Jr. On September 29, 2015, the Judge Barbour granted class certification, and the defendants attempted to appeal this order, but the Fifth Circuit denied the defendants' motion to file an appeal on November 2, 2015.

After engaging in discovery, a bench trial began on March 5, 2018 and concluded on April 9, 2018. On August 24, 2018, Judge Barbour stayed the proceedings in the case pending the receipt of supplemental expert reports, which were to be filed by November 16, 2018. Judge Barbour found that during the bench trial, it had become apparent that conditions at the prison had changed, in part, due to the appointing and hiring of new administrators and implementation of new policies and procedures. Therefore, he found the stay necessary in order ensure that any award of injunctive relief in this case would not run afoul of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA).

After the parties submitted their supplemental expert reports, the parties attempted to settle. However, on January 24, 2019, the parties notified Magistrate Judge John C. Gargiulo, who oversaw the settlement conferences, that the parties were unable to settle and that future settlement conferences would not be productive.

The case proceeded, and on 12/31/2019, the Court entered judgment for the Defendants, stating
It is clear that many changes have been made at the subject prison that pertain to the claims alleged in this lawsuit. The changes include, but are not limited to, new administrators, new prison personnel, and new service providers. The Court concludes that the alleged constitutional violations that may have existed at the time this lawsuit was filed no longer exist and, therefore, that the injunctive relief sought by Plaintiffs has not been shown necessary. Accordingly, judgment will be entered in favor of Defendants on all claims.
Plaintiffs appealed the judgment to the Fifth Circuit on 1/30/2020.

Meanwhile, the District Court taxed costs of $104,380 against the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs moved for a review of the taxation, arguing that the indigent plaintiffs brought a close case, and therefore should not be assessed the plaintiffs costs. The plaintiffs also objected to the defendants’ billing of expenditures that included hotel stays, travel, and dining. Defendants opposed the motion, arguing that Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d)(1) provides that costs “should be allowed to the prevailing party,” and therefore entitles them to compensation for costs.

The case is ongoing.

Jessica Kincaid - 10/14/2013
Jessica Kincaid - 02/26/2016
Abigail DeHart - 10/02/2017
Lisa Limb - 03/25/2019
Justin Hill - 03/15/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Defendant-type
Corrections
Disability
Mental impairment
General
Assault/abuse by residents/inmates/students
Assault/abuse by staff
Bathing and hygiene
Conditions of confinement
Excessive force
Failure to supervise
Failure to train
Food service / nutrition / hydration
Grievance Procedures
Sanitation / living conditions
Sexual abuse by residents/inmates
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Suicide prevention
Unconstitutional conditions of confinement
Youth / Adult separation
Medical/Mental Health
Dental care
Medical care, general
Mental health care, general
Self-injurious behaviors
Suicide prevention
Vision care
Wound care
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Non-government for profit
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Mississippi Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description Prisoners in Mississippi state prison with mental illness.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU National Prison Project
Southern Poverty Law Center
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Filed 05/30/2013
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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Docket(s)
3:13-cv-00326-TSL-JMR (S.D. Miss.)
PC-MS-0007-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/28/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PC-MS-0007-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/30/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion and Order [ECF# 257] (253 F.Supp.3d 832) (S.D. Miss.)
PC-MS-0007-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 09/29/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion and Order [ECF# 767] (S.D. Miss.)
PC-MS-0007-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/24/2018
Opinion and Order [ECF# 850] (2019 WL 9046797) (S.D. Miss.)
PC-MS-0007-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 12/31/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Barbour, William Henry Jr. (S.D. Miss.) show/hide docs
PC-MS-0007-0002 | PC-MS-0007-0003 | PC-MS-0007-0004 | PC-MS-0007-9000
Gargiulo, John C. Court not on record [Magistrate] show/hide docs
PC-MS-0007-9000
Lee, Tom Stewart (S.D. Miss.) show/hide docs
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Roper, John M. (S.D. Miss.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
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Plaintiff's Lawyers Alexander, Elizabeth R. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-MS-0007-0001 | PC-MS-0007-9000
Arulanantham, Rekha (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Balaban, Eric G. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Bardwell, William B. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
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Bidinger, Sarah D (Mississippi) show/hide docs
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Bonthuis, Mari (New York) show/hide docs
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Caveny, Chelsea K. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
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Doshi, Ravi (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Eber, Gabriel B. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Gimbel, Mark P. (New York) show/hide docs
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Han, Anna Q. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Hoff Varner, Gretchen Ann (New York) show/hide docs
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Johnson, Elissa F (Mississippi) show/hide docs
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Monju, Erin K. (New York) show/hide docs
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Morgan, Jamelia N. (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
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Owens, Jody E. II (Mississippi) show/hide docs
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Parets, Brendan (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Prakash, Swati (New York) show/hide docs
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Quereshi, Ajmel (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Salk, Benjamin R. (New York) show/hide docs
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Takei, Carl (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Wedekind, Jennifer A. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Winter, Margaret (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Zhu, Xinping (New York) show/hide docs
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Defendant's Lawyers Bentley, Michael J. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
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Conner, Megan B. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
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Friedman, Gary E. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
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Harvey, William Brett (Mississippi) show/hide docs
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Johnson, Walter T. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
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Manuel, J. William (Mississippi) show/hide docs
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Morisani, Nicholas F. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
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Nobile, Krissy Casey (Mississippi) show/hide docs
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Pedersen, Robert H. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
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Pizzetta, Harold Edward III (Mississippi) show/hide docs
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Saltaformaggio, Erin D. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
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Stephens, John Morgan IV (Mississippi) show/hide docs
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Thaggard, Lee (Mississippi) show/hide docs
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Walker, Molly Mitchell (Mississippi) show/hide docs
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Williams, Michael C. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
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Other Lawyers Case, Jason Robert (Mississippi) show/hide docs
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Hill, Merlin (Mississippi) show/hide docs
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