University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Disability Rights Florida v. Crews PC-FL-0021
Docket / Court 1:14-cv-23323 ( S.D. Fla. )
State/Territory Florida
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Prison Conditions
Special Collection Post-PLRA Jail and Prison Private Settlement Agreements
Prison Legal News
Attorney Organization Legal Services/Legal Aid
NDRN/Protection & Advocacy Organizations
Case Summary
On September 9, 2014, Disability Rights Florida filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. This suit was brought against the Florida Department of Corrections (FDC) and Wexford Health Sources, an FDC contractor, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the Americans with ... read more >
On September 9, 2014, Disability Rights Florida filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. This suit was brought against the Florida Department of Corrections (FDC) and Wexford Health Sources, an FDC contractor, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201, and the Rehabilitation Act. The plaintiff, represented by private and in-house counsel as well as Florida Legal Services, asked the court for injunctive and declaratory relief. The plaintiff alleged that abuse and discrimination against inmates with mental illnesses as well as inadequate care for such inmates violated their Eighth Amendment rights. Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that officials at Dade Correctional Institution (Dade CI) subjected inmates with serious mental illness in their inpatient mental health units to physical beatings, verbal harassment, deprivation of food, and torture. The plaintiff claimed that FDC was on notice of these conditions and failed to investigate the allegations of abuse and adequately punish those responsible.

Disability Rights Florida, the plaintiff, is a federally-funded protection and advocacy system responsible for protecting the rights of individuals with mental illness in the state. In this lawsuit, it asked for several forms of relief to protect prisoners with mental illnesses. First, the plaintiff requested that the court declare the defendants' conduct unlawful and unconstitutional. Second, the plaintiff requested an injunction requiring FDC to cease all actions that violated the constitutional and statutory rights of mentally ill inmates at the Dade CI inpatient unit, take immediate action to investigate and stop the ongoing abuse of such inmates, train and supervise officers assigned to the unit, develop a system of periodic independent oversight of the unit, and take immediate steps to ensure timely investigations of abuse upon these inmates. Third, the plaintiff requested an injunction requiring Wexford to mandate that its employees report allegations of abuse and ensure that inmates with mental illness receive adequate care. Fourth and finally, the plaintiff requested an injunction requiring FDC to stop discriminating against inmates in the Dade CI inpatient unit on the basis of disability.

At around the same time, the personal representative of the estate and survivors of a mentally ill FDC prisoner who died after being forced to shower in scalding water for hours sued FDC and several FDC guards and prison officials. See Chapman v. Florida Department of Corrections, 1:14-cv-24140-RNS. The representative alleged that the defendants violated the ADA, Rehabilitation Act, and Eighth Amendment and sought damages. On November 14, 2014, the court issued an order consolidating Chapman with this case.

On April 10, 2015, Disability Rights Florida and the defendants submitted a private settlement agreement that Judge Robert N. Scola, Jr. approved on April 14, 2015. Among the terms of the settlement agreement:
  • The state agreed to provide Crisis Intervention Training to all staff at Dade CI.
  • The state would provide specialized training for correctional officers who work directly with inmates with mental illnesses.
  • The state agreed to upgrade its video monitoring system and begin a pilot program for an audio monitoring system.
  • The state agreed to try to provide full staffing at Dade CI.
  • An additional Assistant Warden position will be created at Dade CI to oversee issues involving individuals with mental illnesses.
  • A Mental Health Ombudsman position will be created at FDC's central office and at the Region III office. These positions are intended lead and supervise mental health care.
  • The state agreed to install televisions in the common areas of the inpatient units at Dade CI for both therapeutic and recreational activities.
  • A team of psychiatrists and security experts will visit Dade CI and will review records, observe therapeutic and non-therapeutic activities, and evaluate the safeguards against abuse and neglect at the facility. The experts will then make recommendations for any needed changes and improvements.
In addition, Wexford agreed to implement all of these provisions as well as provide training, hire additional behavioral health staff, and conduct internal and external audits of its program. The parties agreed to monitor compliance with the agreement through May of 2017. The court was to retain jurisdiction over the matter for 6 months, and during that time, the plaintiff could seek to reopen the case and resume the litigation if the state’s implementation of the agreement was systematically deficient.

Meanwhile, on February 1, 2016, the plaintiff in Chapman moved to reopen the case, lift the stay on litigation entered with the settlement agreement, and start discovery because the settlement had no bearing on the issues addressed in its complaint. The court found that, because the last stay applicable to the consolidated actions expired on March 16, 2015, the case related to the estate should have automatically reopened on that date. Judge Scola ordered the matter reopened and ordered defendants to respond to the complaint by April 4, 2016.

On April 12, the defendant answered plaintiff's complaint, raising several affirmative defenses, including failure to state a cause of action, failure to state a claim, and that the FDC was entitled to sovereign immunity. On May 16, plaintiff filed an amended complaint. The FDC and Dade CI’s warden subsequently filed motions to dismiss on July 1, 2016. Meanwhile, discovery commenced.

On October 28, 2016, Judge Scola granted the FDC's motion to dismiss while denying that of Dade CI’s warden. As to the warden, the court found that the plaintiffs had stated a plausible claim of supervisory liability based on the warden's alleged knowledge of widespread abuse of mentally ill inmates at Dade CI. As to the FDC, the court dismissed the ADA and Rehabilitation Act claims brought on behalf of the decedent's surviving family members for lack of standing, but upheld the same claims as brought by his estate.

Discovery continued and, after fruitless mediation, a trial was scheduled for March 2018.

Meanwhile, Disability Rights Florida identified deficiencies in the defendants' compliance with the settlement agreement. On May 19, 2017, it and FDC moved to extend the deadline by six months so that FDC could implement reforms, including hiring a different mental healthcare provider. At the end of the six-month extension, both parties asked the court to dismiss that portion of the consolidated case with prejudice. Judge Scola did so on November 8, 2017, but clarified that the dismissal did not affect the ongoing litigation between the estate and the FDC defendants. The court also retained jurisdiction to resolve any disputes over attorneys' fees that might emerge. There is no evidence in the docket that any attorneys' fees disputes with respect to the Disability Rights Florida litigation reached the court.

However, on January 17, 2018, the remaining parties notified the court that they had settled the case privately and in full. The court ordered the case administratively closed that day. While the Clearinghouse is not aware of the terms of the new settlement agreement, subsequent litigation revealed that it included $4.5 million in monetary damages.

On May 24, 2018, the court entered an order requiring the plaintiffs to file a stipulation of dismissal by July 23, 2018. But infighting soon broke out within the plaintiffs’ camp. One of their lawyers tried to put a charging lien on the pool of settlement funds, and the estate of one of the decedent’s relatives attempted to intervene to claim some of the proceeds. The court declined to address these new disputes and, after the lawyer voluntarily withdrew an Eleventh Circuit appeal on the lien issue, approved the settlement on October 26.

On November 21, 2018, the parties filed a joint stipulation of dismissal of the action. The same day, Judge Scola ordered the dismissal of the case and stated that the court reserves jurisdiction to enforce the parties' settlement agreement. As of September 2019, the court has taken no action to enforce the settlement agreement.

Spencer Klein - 02/08/2015
Lauren Latterell Powell - 03/18/2018
Jake Parker - 07/05/2018


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process
Content of Injunction
Auditing
Hire
Monitoring
Other requirements regarding hiring, promotion, retention
Recordkeeping
Reporting
Training
Defendant-type
Corrections
Disability
Mental impairment
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Assault/abuse by staff
Bathing and hygiene
Classification / placement
Conditions of confinement
Counseling
Failure to discipline
Failure to supervise
Failure to train
Food service / nutrition / hydration
Incident/accident reporting & investigations
Pattern or Practice
Restraints : physical
Retaliation
Sanitation / living conditions
Solitary confinement/Supermax (conditions or process)
Torture
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Mental health care, general
Suicide prevention
Mental Disability
Depression
Mental Illness, Unspecified
Schizophrenia
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
Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI) Act, 42 U.S.C. § 10801
Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701
Defendant(s) Florida Department of Corrections
Wexford Health Sources, Inc.
Plaintiff Description Disability Rights Florida, an organization empowered by federal law to file suit to protect the rights of individuals with mental illness who are in the custody of the state.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Legal Services/Legal Aid
NDRN/Protection & Advocacy Organizations
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Order Duration 2015 - 2017
Filing Year 2014
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  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 ]

  Prison Legal News Homepage
Prison Legal News
By: Prison Legal News
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
1:14-cv-23323 (S.D. Fla.)
PC-FL-0021-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/21/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint For Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 1]
PC-FL-0021-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/09/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amended Complaint and Jury Demand [ECF# 34]
PC-FL-0021-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/18/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Last Amended Complaint [ECF# 46]
PC-FL-0021-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/23/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Private Settlement Agreement
PC-FL-0021-0010.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/10/2015
Joint Motion for Administrative Closure of Case [ECF# 59]
PC-FL-0021-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/10/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Administratively Closing Case Upon Notice of Settlement [ECF# 61] (S.D. Fla.)
PC-FL-0021-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/15/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Omnibus Order on Motions to Dismiss [ECF# 145] (S.D. Fla.)
PC-FL-0021-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/28/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Joint Motion for Extension of Courts' Jurisdiction and Administrative Closure [ECF# 191]
PC-FL-0021-0014.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/19/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Joint Motion to Dismiss and Retain Jurisdiction for Limited Purpose of Attorneys' Fees and Expenses [ECF# 231]
PC-FL-0021-0015.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/08/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Mediation Report [ECF# 241]
PC-FL-0021-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/17/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiff Andre Chapman's Motion for Entry of Order Authorizing Release of Settlement Proceeds to Sutton Law Group, P.A. Trust Account [ECF# 334]
PC-FL-0021-0011.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/19/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Omnibus Order [ECF# 335] (S.D. Fla.)
PC-FL-0021-0013.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/26/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Otazo-Reyes, Alicia M. Court not on record [Magistrate] show/hide docs
PC-FL-0021-9000
Scola, Robert Nichols Jr. (S.D. Fla.) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0021-0004 | PC-FL-0021-0006 | PC-FL-0021-0013 | PC-FL-0021-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Boyer, David Allen (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0021-0001 | PC-FL-0021-0002 | PC-FL-0021-0003 | PC-FL-0021-0005 | PC-FL-0021-9000
Lentz, Kristen Cooley (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0021-0002 | PC-FL-0021-0005 | PC-FL-0021-0014 | PC-FL-0021-0015 | PC-FL-0021-9000
Paris, Molly Jean (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0021-0001 | PC-FL-0021-0002 | PC-FL-0021-0003 | PC-FL-0021-0005 | PC-FL-0021-9000
Schulz, George E. Jr. (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0021-0001 | PC-FL-0021-0002 | PC-FL-0021-0003 | PC-FL-0021-9000
Sleasman, Peter P. (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0021-0001 | PC-FL-0021-0002 | PC-FL-0021-0003 | PC-FL-0021-0005 | PC-FL-0021-0014 | PC-FL-0021-0015 | PC-FL-0021-9000
Soren, Max Gabriel (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0021-9000
Wintter, Christopher Quinn (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0021-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Bondi, Pamela Jo (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0021-0003
Desai, Devang B (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0021-0003 | PC-FL-0021-0014 | PC-FL-0021-0015 | PC-FL-0021-9000
Maher, Susan Adams (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0021-0003 | PC-FL-0021-9000
Marrero, Oscar Edmund (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0021-9000 | PC-FL-0021-9000
Marsh, J. Lee (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0021-0014 | PC-FL-0021-0015 | PC-FL-0021-9000
Neff, Lance Eric (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0021-9000
Sheeran, Andrew T (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0021-9000
Stinson, Monica Galindo (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0021-9000
Tietig, Lisa Kuhlman (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0021-9000
Toomey, Gregg Alan (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0021-9000 | PC-FL-0021-9000
Weissenborn, Sheridan K. (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0021-9000
Wydler, Lourdes Espino (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0021-9000 | PC-FL-0021-9000
Other Lawyers Commons, Linda Bellomio (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0021-9000
Grimes, Milton C. (California) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0021-0011 | PC-FL-0021-9000
Hoffman, Paul L. (California) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0021-9000
Jackson, Iverson Matthew (California) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0021-9000
Newman, Annette (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0021-0011 | PC-FL-0021-9000
Price, Max Richard (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0021-9000
Sarmiento, Vicki I. (California) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0021-9000
Sutton, John R (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0021-9000
Sweetser, Catherine Elizabeth (California) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0021-9000

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