University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name O'Bryan v. Saginaw County JC-MI-0001
Docket / Court 1:75-cv-10075-NGE ( E.D. Mich. )
State/Territory Michigan
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Case Summary
In 1975, the plaintiffs filed this class action suit against the Saginaw County Jail on behalf of themselves and all inmates, seeking permanent injunctive and declaratory relief. The plaintiffs challenged a variety of jail conditions, including disciplinary practices, visitation policies, ... read more >
In 1975, the plaintiffs filed this class action suit against the Saginaw County Jail on behalf of themselves and all inmates, seeking permanent injunctive and declaratory relief. The plaintiffs challenged a variety of jail conditions, including disciplinary practices, visitation policies, availability of exercise, access to legal material, censorship of communication, and separation of adults from juveniles.

After a trial on the merits in 1977, the District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan (Judge James Harvey) issued an interim decree and enjoined defendants from failing to provide writing materials, due process before punishment, basic hygiene materials, a guide establishing inmate rights and privileges, street clothes, exercise programs, reading materials, a limited law library, and religious services. The court also required the defendants to submit proposals and reports on implementing the court's order within thirty days. O'Bryan v. Saginaw Co., 437 F. Supp 582 (E.D. Mich. 1977).

In 1978, the District Court issued a final judgment, permanently enjoining the defendants from violating the rights of all inmates at Saginaw County Jail. The court also required the defendants to abide by certain practices and procedures, including: admission procedure, classification procedure, physical examinations, rights and privileges, structural alterations, summoning guards, disciplinary proceedings, inmate guide, and inspections. O'Bryan v. Saginaw Co., 446 F. Supp. 436 (E.D. Mich. 1978). The defendants appealed the decision.

While the defendants' appeal was pending in the Sixth Circuit, they filed a petition for modification of the final judgment in light of the Supreme Court's decision Bell v. Wolfish, 441 U.S. 520 (1979). In 1980, the Sixth Circuit remanded the case to the District Court.

On January 14, 1981, the District Court issued an Order granting the defendant's motion for modification and altered the terms of the decree to reflect the defendant's desired changes. In February, the court issued another Order, granting the plaintiff's motion for reconsideration on remand of the contact visitation, receipt of publication, and medical treatment issues. The court issued a consent decree regarding the receipt of publication and medical treatment issues.

In December of 1981, the District Court held that inmates do not have a constitutional right to contact visitation, and ordered the defendants to submit a new visitation proposal to the court within thirty days addressing the use of barriers during pre-trial visitations. O'Bryan v. Saginaw Co., 529 F. Supp. 206 (E.D. Mich. 1981). The plaintiffs appealed, and in 1984, the Sixth Circuit affirmed the District Court's decision. O'Bryan v. Saginaw Co., 741 F.2d 283 (6th Cir. 1984).

The available docket for this case begins in 1993, when the defendants moved to impose barrier visitation procedures at the jail. The issue of barrier visitation procedures was resolved in 1994 when the Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court's holding that inmates do not have a constitutional right to contact visitation.

In 2011, a prisoner who had been confined to the jail filed a motion to show cause alleging that the defendants had failed to comply with many of the practices and procedures mandated by the permanent injunction. The defendants moved to dismiss the motion.

On October 27, 2011, the court (Judge Nancy G. Edmunds) denied the plaintiff's motion for an order to show cause and granted the defendants' motion to dismiss. Because the plaintiff was no longer in that jail and never filed any grievances while he was incarcerated there, his claims were moot.

The plaintiff filed a motion for reconsideration, arguing that he sought compensatory damages, fines, and costs, rather than injunctive relief. On November 29, 2011, the court denied the plaintiff's motion for reconsideration, finding that he did not demonstrate a palpable defect in the proceedings, as required by the Eastern District of Michigan’s Local Rule 7.1(h). The plaintiff appealed to the Sixth Circuit.

On December 7, 2012, the Sixth Circuit held that the district court erred in denying the plaintiff's motion on mootness grounds. The Sixth Circuit vacated the district court’s judgment and remanded for further proceedings. The docket, however, does not reflect any additional proceedings.

The Saginaw County Jail apparently remains bound under the Court's order for permanent injunctive relief.

Lauren Cutson - 05/19/2005
Jessica Kincaid - 03/18/2016

compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Assault/abuse by staff
Classification / placement
Disciplinary procedures
Food service / nutrition / hydration
Law library access
Library (non-law) access
Recreation / Exercise
Religious programs / policies
Sanitation / living conditions
Type of Facility
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Saginaw County Jail
Plaintiff Description inmates at the Saginaw County Jail
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se Unknown
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Unknown
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Order Duration 1975 - n/a
Filing Year 1975
Case Ongoing Perhaps, but long-dormant
75-10075 (E.D. Mich.)
JC-MI-0001-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/07/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Memorandum Opinion and Order (437 F.Supp. 582) (E.D. Mich.)
JC-MI-0001-0007.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 09/14/1977
Source: Google Scholar
Final Judgment and Permanent Injunction (446 F.Supp. 436) (E.D. Mich.)
JC-MI-0001-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 01/11/1978
Source: Google Scholar
Memorandum Opinion and Order (529 F.Supp. 206) (E.D. Mich.)
JC-MI-0001-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 12/08/1981
Source: Google Scholar
Reported Opinion (722 F.2d 313)
JC-MI-0001-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 12/08/1983
Source: Google Scholar
Reported Opinion (741 F.2d 283)
JC-MI-0001-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 08/22/1984
Source: Google Scholar
Order Denying Plaintiff's Motion for Order to Show Cause and Granting Defendant's Motion to Dismiss (2011 WL 5105787) (E.D. Mich.)
JC-MI-0001-0008.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 10/27/2011
Source: Bloomberg Law
Order Denying Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration [ECF# 308] (E.D. Mich.)
JC-MI-0001-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/29/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Ct. of App. ECF# 315]
JC-MI-0001-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/07/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Edmunds, Nancy Garlock (E.D. Mich.)
JC-MI-0001-0001 | JC-MI-0001-0008 | JC-MI-0001-9000
Harvey, James (E.D. Mich.)
JC-MI-0001-0005 | JC-MI-0001-0006 | JC-MI-0001-0007
Hood, Joseph Martin (E.D. Ky.)
Merritt, Gilbert Stroud Jr. (Sixth Circuit)
Rogers, John M. (Sixth Circuit)
Wellford, Harry Walker (W.D. Tenn., Sixth Circuit)
Plaintiff's Lawyers Berger, Joel (New York)
JC-MI-0001-0003 | JC-MI-0001-0005
Coulter, Delores M. (Michigan)
JC-MI-0001-0006 | JC-MI-0001-0007
Ells, Alan S. (Michigan)
JC-MI-0001-0003 | JC-MI-0001-0005 | JC-MI-0001-0006 | JC-MI-0001-0007
Gambino, Lawrence F. (Michigan)
JC-MI-0001-0003 | JC-MI-0001-0006 | JC-MI-0001-0007
Greenberg, Jack (New York)
Houseman, Alan W. (Michigan)
JC-MI-0001-0006 | JC-MI-0001-0007
McMillen, Phyllis (New York)
Snelling, Philip H. (Michigan)
JC-MI-0001-0003 | JC-MI-0001-0004 | JC-MI-0001-0006 | JC-MI-0001-0007
Stangl, Terri L. (Michigan)
Winter, Steven L. (New York)
JC-MI-0001-0003 | JC-MI-0001-0005
Defendant's Lawyers Bovill, William S. (Michigan)
JC-MI-0001-0004 | JC-MI-0001-0006 | JC-MI-0001-0007
Burns, Jerome E. (Michigan)
JC-MI-0001-0003 | JC-MI-0001-0004 | JC-MI-0001-0006 | JC-MI-0001-0007
Jensen, Peter C. (Michigan)
JC-MI-0001-0003 | JC-MI-0001-0004 | JC-MI-0001-0005
Jungerheld, William E. (Michigan)
JC-MI-0001-0006 | JC-MI-0001-0007
Kelley, Frank J. (Michigan)
Lusk, Amy L. (Michigan)
Meyer, David B. (Michigan)
JC-MI-0001-0005 | JC-MI-0001-0006 | JC-MI-0001-0007

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -