University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Decoteau v. Raemisch PC-CO-0022
Docket / Court 1:13-cv-03399 ( D. Colo. )
State/Territory Colorado
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Special Collection Solitary confinement
Attorney Organization Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center
Case Summary
On December 17, 2013, prisoners currently or previously incarcerated in solitary confinement at Colorado State Penitentiary ("CSP") filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Colorado under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the State of Colorado. The plaintiffs, represented by ... read more >
On December 17, 2013, prisoners currently or previously incarcerated in solitary confinement at Colorado State Penitentiary ("CSP") filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Colorado under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the State of Colorado. The plaintiffs, represented by the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center and student attorneys from the University of Denver College of Law, asked the Court to declare that CSP conditions violated the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. Specifically, the plaintiffs requested that the Court issue an injunction ordering the state to provide solitary confinement prisoners with regular access to outdoor exercise.

At CSP, prisoners in administrative segregation spend a minimum of 23 hours per day by themselves in a cell. The prisoners in administrative segregation have access to a recreation room for a maximum of one hour per day, five days per week. The exercise area is essentially another cell and is not outdoors. The small room contains only a pull-up bar and there is no opportunity for inmates to run. Plaintiffs alleged that they have suffered from a number of mental and physical problems as a result of being denied access to outdoor exercise.

On July 10, 2014, Judge William Martinez granted the plaintiffs' motion for class certification, certifying a class of all prisoners who are now or will in the future be housed in administrative segregation at CSP and who are or will be subjected to the policy of refusing to provide such inmates access to outdoor exercise. At the same time, the Court denied the plaintiffs' motion to consolidate this class action with a prior-filed pro se damage action. 2014 WL 3373670, __F.R.D.__ (D. Colo. 2014).

The Court granted the plaintiffs' motion to redefine their class by excluding the limitation of administrative segregation housing in April 2015.

On October 2, 2015, the parties filed a stipulated notice of settlement agreement. After a fairness hearing, on July 6, 2016, the court approved the settlement agreement and granted the plaintiffs' motion for attorneys' fees. The settlement agreement provides that inmates will be transferred from CSP to Sterling Correctional Facility where there are outdoor cages available for exercise that have at least 180 square feet of space. These inmates will be permitted to do so for one hour per day, three days per week. Further, pending the completion of new outdoor yards at CSP, inmates will be able to exercise in these yards for one hour per day, three days per week. The parties also laid out a dispute resolution process, whereby they agreed to attempt informal resolutions first before seeking out judicial resolution. The agreement also included a provision requiring that notice be provided to class members of the settlement. Further, the agreement provided a process for concluding the case: This case can be administratively closed once the settlement is approved, and upon completion and inspection of the agreement's requirements, the parties are to file a stipulation to dismiss the case. The plaintiffs were awarded $410,000 in attorneys' fees.

The settlement agreement provided for an October 2016 checkpoint if it appears construction will not be completed by December 2016. The defendants in that case were to file a status report with the court. However, the docket shows no activity after the settlement agreement.

The case is now administratively closed, though the court retained jurisdiction to resolve disputes arising under the agreement.

Nate West - 09/24/2014
Virginia Weeks - 09/13/2017


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Administrative segregation
Conditions of confinement
Recreation / Exercise
Solitary confinement/Supermax (conditions or process)
Unconstitutional conditions of confinement
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Colorado Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description Plaintiffs are prisoners incarcerated at the Colorado State Penitentiary who spend a minimum of 23 hours a day alone and have been denied access to outdoor exercise.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
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
Private Settlement Agreement
Order Duration 2016 - n/a
Case Closing Year 2016
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  Cruel Confinement: Abuse, Discrimination and Death Within Alabama's Prisons
Date: Jun. 4, 2014
(Southern Poverty Law Center )
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  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)
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
Date: Jan. 1, 1998
By: Malcolm M. Feeley & Edward Rubin (UC Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law & Vanderbilt School of Law Faculty)
Citation: (1998)
[ Detail ]

Docket(s)
1:13-cv-03399-WJM-KMT (D. Colo.)
PC-CO-0022-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/11/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint [ECF# 1]
PC-CO-0022-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/17/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order granting Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification and Denying Plaintiffs' Motion to Consolidate Cases [ECF# 37] (2014 WL 3373670) (D. Colo.)
PC-CO-0022-0002.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 07/10/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting Plaintiffs' Motion to Redefine the Class and Denying Defendants' Cross-Motion to Redefine the Class [ECF# 93] (2015 WL 1727071) (D. Colo.)
PC-CO-0022-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 04/13/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Class Action Settlement Agreement [ECF# 115-1]
PC-CO-0022-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/04/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Approving Settlement Agreement and Granting Plaintiffs' Unopposed Motion for Attorneys' Fees and Costs [ECF# 184] (D. Colo.)
PC-CO-0022-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/06/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Martinez, William Joseph (D. Colo.)
PC-CO-0022-0002 | PC-CO-0022-0003 | PC-CO-0022-0004 | PC-CO-0022-9000
Tafoya, Kathleen M. (D. Colo.) [Magistrate]
PC-CO-0022-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Fontana, Lauren (Colorado)
PC-CO-0022-0001 | PC-CO-0022-0005 | PC-CO-0022-9000
Robertson, Amy Farr (Colorado)
PC-CO-0022-0001 | PC-CO-0022-0005 | PC-CO-0022-9000
Webb, Lindsey (Colorado)
PC-CO-0022-0001 | PC-CO-0022-0005 | PC-CO-0022-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Alber, Christopher Wayne (Colorado)
PC-CO-0022-0005 | PC-CO-0022-9000
Gellar, Nicole S. (Colorado)
PC-CO-0022-0005 | PC-CO-0022-9000

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