On Aug. 14, 2014, a number of prisoners in Louisiana state prisons filed this class action in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals. The plaintiffs, represented by public interest attorneys, ...
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On Aug. 14, 2014, a number of prisoners in Louisiana state prisons filed this class action in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals. The plaintiffs, represented by public interest attorneys, asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief, claiming that, despite their being found not guilty by reason of insanity of criminal offenses, they were still being incarcerated in Louisiana prisons. The named plaintiffs claimed that their continued imprisonment violated their Fourteenth Amendment right under the Due Process Clause, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504).
The named plaintiffs were all found not guilty by reason of insanity during their criminal trials and they were all committed by the courts to the Eastern Louisiana Mental Health System (ELMHS), which runs a state mental health facility. Nevertheless, at the time of the complaint, all named plaintiffs still remained incarcerated in state prisons, despite the fact that no other criminal charges had been filed against them. Plaintiffs claim that by continuing to incarcerate them, the state is discriminating against them on the basis of their mental illness and denying them appropriate mental health services.
The Court denied the plaintiffs class certification on December 22, 2014. Plaintiffs then filed their third and final amended complaint on May 13, 2015. Discovery and litigation continued, and on February 3, 2016, this case was consolidated with Advocacy Center v. Kliebert (Docket No. 3:15-cv-00751).
After several months of settlement discussions, on July 18, 2016, the Court dismissed the case without prejudice to the right to reopen it within sixty days if the parties did not settle. On September 2, 2016, the parties reported that they had reached a settlement, moving jointly to reopen the case for purpose of entering that agreement as a court order. The Court granted the motion and approved the settlement on November 16, 2016.
The terms of the settlement agreement apply to "All individuals who, after having been found Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity or Incompetent to Stand Trial are remanded by a court to a mental health facility for treatment." The settlement requires the defendants to maintain a record of all such persons, conduct prompt behavioral health assessments after the court orders commitment or inpatient treatment, admit such persons currently on a waitlist to a mental health facility or appropriate program, create a procedure for expedited admission of such persons to the appropriate facilities in the event of an emergency need, maintain pre- and post-admissions procedures for ensuring appropriate placement of such persons, work to develop less constricting and new placement options, and report back to the plaintiffs on a monthly basis. The settlement agreement also awards the plaintiffs with attorneys' fees and costs in the amount of $466,000 and possible future fees related to the execution of this settlement agreement.
The case will remain open to enforce the settlement decree through 2020.Andrew Junker - 10/02/2014
Virginia Weeks - 01/17/2017