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Case Name Minnis v. Johnson PC-VA-0019
Docket / Court 1:10-cv-00096-TSE -TRJ ( E.D. Va. )
State/Territory Virginia
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Prison Conditions
Special Collection Post-PLRA Jail and Prison Private Settlement Agreements
Attorney Organization Washington Lawyers' Committee
Case Summary
On January 29, 2010, prisoners in the Virginia Department of Corrections (VDOC) who were deaf or hard of hearing filed this class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act, the Religious Land Use ... read more >
On January 29, 2010, prisoners in the Virginia Department of Corrections (VDOC) who were deaf or hard of hearing filed this class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000, and Virginia state law against Virginia state agencies, departments, and employees thereof. The plaintiffs, represented by the Washington Lawyers Committee and private counsel, asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief and damages, claiming that the defendants refused to comply with state and federal laws protecting the rights of the plaintiffs. Specifically, the plaintiffs claimed that the defendants failed to provide adequate access to qualified sign language interpreters, adequate notification of daily events and safety announcements, and adequate means to communicate with individuals outside of prison.

On April 13, 2010, the plaintiffs filed the first amended class action complaint.

On May 11, 2010, Judge Ellis allowed the plaintiffs to voluntarily dismiss several counts of their plaintiffs' first complaint. On June 21, 2010, the plaintiffs entered a stipulation for voluntary dismissal of three of the individual defendants.

On September 14, 2010, the plaintiffs and the medical provider defendants reached a private settlement agreement in which the defendants agreed to pay a total of $37,500 to the plaintiffs and to the plaintiffs' attorneys and to amend policies to ensure protection of the rights of the plaintiffs.

On November 15, 2010, the parties entered a stipulation of voluntary conditional dismissal for all claims. The defendants agreed to ensure that deaf inmates would no longer be discriminated against and the plaintiffs agreed to dismiss all remaining claims. The settlement covers a wide variety of issues, including general policies, initial classification, assessment and assignment, housing, provision of auxiliary aids and services, qualifications and use of sign language interpreters, additional communications, disciplinary matters, visual alert notifications, telecommunication devices, training, and monitoring and compliance.

The settlement permitted the Virginia Department of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing to have access to each prison that housed a deaf/HOH prisoner, twice a year for five years. In addition, Plaintiffs' counsel got similar access, annually, for two years.

If the defendants failed to comply, the agreement allowed plaintiffs to move for reinstatement of the lawsuit, or to proceed in state court and seek specific performance of the agreement. The agreement remained in effect, according to the order entering it, through October 18, 2015.

On October 27, 2014, about a year before the settlement term ended, the plaintiffs filed a motion to reinstate the action, alleging systemic noncompliance with the agreement. The instigating event was when nearly all the deaf prisoners were moved from Powhatan Correction Center, which had been fairly well equipped for them, to the Greensville Correctional Center, which had not. Over the next several months, the plaintiffs' counsel did several prison visits and negotiated further, and then withdrew the motion to reinstate. (One plaintiff disagreed, and there was some litigation over his role and status, where he was separately represented and his lawyer did some prison visits/negotiation. This ended up in him withdrawing his disagreement in March 2016.)

There was no extension of the agreement term, and the last substantive item on the docket is the March 2016 withdrawal, so presumably the case is closed.

Jessica Kincaid - 07/07/2014
- 05/16/2019


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Equal Protection
Free Exercise Clause
Freedom of speech/association
Content of Injunction
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Discrimination Prohibition
Monitoring
Provide antidiscrimination training
Reporting
Defendant-type
Corrections
Disability
Hearing impairment
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Classification / placement
Conditions of confinement
Disciplinary procedures
Failure to train
Grievance Procedures
Phone
Religious programs / policies
Special education
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Religious Freedom Rest. Act/Religious Land Use and Inst. Persons Act (RFRA/RLUIPA)
Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701
State law
Defendant(s) Medical College of Virginia Hospitals
Virginia Commonwealth University Health System Authority
Virginia Correctional Enterprises
Virginia Department of Correctional Education
Virginia Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description Inmates in the Virginia Department of Corrections (VDOC) who were deaf or hard of hearing
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Washington Lawyers' Committee
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Moot
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Private Settlement Agreement
Order Duration 2010 - 2015
Filing Year 2010
Case Closing Year 2016
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  Civil Rights Injunctions Over Time: A Case Study of Jail and Prison Court Orders
N.Y.U. Law Review
Date: May 2006
By: Margo Schlanger (Washington University Faculty)
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
Book
Date: Jan. 1, 1998
By: Malcolm M. Feeley & Edward Rubin (UC Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law & Vanderbilt School of Law Faculty Faculty)
Citation: (1998)
[ Detail ]

Docket(s)
1:10-cv-96 (E.D. Va.)
PC-VA-0019-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/06/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint [ECF# 1]
PC-VA-0019-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/29/2010
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Amended Complaint [ECF# 34]
PC-VA-0019-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/13/2010
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Dismissing Certain Counts] [ECF# 66] (E.D. Va.)
PC-VA-0019-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/11/2010
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Stipulation of Voluntary Dismissal [ECF# 100]
PC-VA-0019-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/21/2010
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Interpretation and Communication Assistance
PC-VA-0019-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/06/2010
Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
Settlement and Release Agreement
PC-VA-0019-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/14/2010
Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
Settlement Agreement
PC-VA-0019-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/18/2010
Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
Plaintiffs' Consent Motion for Voluntary Dismissal of Virginia Department of Corrections Defendants [ECF# 105]
PC-VA-0019-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/09/2010
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Stipulation of Voluntary Dismissal [ECF# 110]
PC-VA-0019-0010.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/15/2010
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Dismissing All Claims] [ECF# 109] (E.D. Va.)
PC-VA-0019-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/16/2010
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Motion for Reinstatement t the United States District Court, Eastern District of Virginia Docket for Appointment of Counsel and Sanctions [ECF# 111]
PC-VA-0019-0011.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/27/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Reporter's Transcript [ECF# 130]
PC-VA-0019-0012.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/25/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Status Report [ECF# 137]
PC-VA-0019-0013.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/14/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Ellis, Thomas Selby III (E.D. Va.) show/hide docs
PC-VA-0019-0006 | PC-VA-0019-0009 | PC-VA-0019-0010 | PC-VA-0019-0012 | PC-VA-0019-9000
Jones, Thomas Rawles Jr. (E.D. Va.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
PC-VA-0019-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Auxier, Adele H. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-VA-0019-0004 | PC-VA-0019-0005 | PC-VA-0019-0007 | PC-VA-0019-0008 | PC-VA-0019-0010 | PC-VA-0019-9000
Diaw, Amadou K. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-VA-0019-0004 | PC-VA-0019-0005 | PC-VA-0019-0008
Ewing, Gregory L. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-VA-0019-0004 | PC-VA-0019-0005 | PC-VA-0019-0008
Finkenstadt, Ivy (Virginia) show/hide docs
PC-VA-0019-0008
Gardner, Elaine (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-VA-0019-0004 | PC-VA-0019-0005 | PC-VA-0019-0008
Golden, Deborah Maxine (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-VA-0019-0004 | PC-VA-0019-0005 | PC-VA-0019-0012
Levine, Jay L. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-VA-0019-0004 | PC-VA-0019-0005 | PC-VA-0019-0008
Mancini, Laura A. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-VA-0019-0004 | PC-VA-0019-0005
Manitta, Lana (Virginia) show/hide docs
PC-VA-0019-0012 | PC-VA-0019-0013
Racco, Luciano (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-VA-0019-0005 | PC-VA-0019-0008
Defendant's Lawyers Allen, Charles Manley Jr. (Virginia) show/hide docs
PC-VA-0019-0007 | PC-VA-0019-0010 | PC-VA-0019-9000
Chabalewski, George Walerian (Virginia) show/hide docs
PC-VA-0019-9000
Davis, Mark Ralph (Virginia) show/hide docs
PC-VA-0019-0007 | PC-VA-0019-0010 | PC-VA-0019-9000
Demarest, William Francis III (Virginia) show/hide docs
PC-VA-0019-9000
McNelis, Edward J. III (Virginia) show/hide docs
PC-VA-0019-9000
Muldowney, Elizabeth Martin (Virginia) show/hide docs
PC-VA-0019-0007 | PC-VA-0019-9000
Parsons, John Michael (Virginia) show/hide docs
PC-VA-0019-9000
Raab, Kimberly Jane (Virginia) show/hide docs
PC-VA-0019-9000

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