On January 2, 2009, an inmate at Tippecanoe County Jail filed a class action lawsuit in the Tippecanoe County Superior Court under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Tippecanoe County. The plaintiff, represented by the ACLU of Indiana, sought declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging several violations of ...
read more >
On January 2, 2009, an inmate at Tippecanoe County Jail filed a class action lawsuit in the Tippecanoe County Superior Court under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Tippecanoe County. The plaintiff, represented by the ACLU of Indiana, sought declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging several violations of Indiana law and the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that the defendant had a policy of opening inmates' mail, including mail from legal counsel, outside the presence of the inmate to whom it is addressed; denying inmates reasonable access to the law library; and failing to respond to inmate grievances within a reasonable period of time.
On January 20, 2009, the case was removed to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana. The District Court heard oral argument on the plaintiff's motion for class certification on March 18, 2009, but reserved its ruling on the class certification issue pending a ruling on the defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings. On June 22, 2009, the District Court (Judge Allen Sharp) granted the motion for judgment on the pleadings, holding that the plaintiff's transfer away from Tippecanoe County Jail rendered the cause of action moot. Olson v. Brown, 2009 WL 1766667 (N.D. Ind. June 22, 2009).
On July 7, 2009, the plaintiff filed a notice of appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, arguing that the case was inherently transitory for any possible named plaintiff and therefore fell within the exception to the mootness doctrine. On February 4, 2010, the Court of Appeals reversed the District Court's dismissal and remanded the case for consideration of plaintiff's motion for class certification and defendant's motion for dismissal for failure to state a claim. Olson v. Brown, 594 F.3d 577 (7th Cir. 2010). The Court of Appeals also ordered a bill of costs in favor of the plaintiff for the cost of the appeal.
On July 25, 2012, the District Court (Judge Jon DeGuilio), who was reassigned the case on remand, granted in part and denied in part the plaintiff's motion to certify class. Specifically, the District Court (Judge DeGuilio) ordered that the class be certified to pursue relief under Indiana state law, the First Amendment, and the Fourteenth Amendment. The District Court (Judge DeGuilio) dismissed as moot any claims not certified for class treatment. That same day, the District Court (Judge DeGuilio) also granted in part and denied in part the defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings. The District Court (Judge DeGuilio) held that the class plaintiffs had stated a claim that the jail's mail policy violated class members' right to access to court by hindering confidential communications with attorneys regarding non-frivolous claims, but that the class plaintiffs were not entitled to relief under the First Amendment or Indiana law. On August 28, 2012, the Court of Appeals denied the defendant's petition for permission to appeal the class certification order.
On May 7, 2013, the parties entered a stipulation to enter a private settlement agreement following notice to the class. On July 7, 2013, Magistrate Judge Paul Cherry entered an order approving the settlement. On August 19, 2013, Judge Cherry dismissed the case with prejudice. At this point, the case concluded.Priyah Kaul - 09/16/2014