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Case Name McKibben v. McMahon JC-CA-0109
Docket / Court 5:14-cv-02171 ( C.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Attorney Organization ACLU of Southern California
Case Summary
On October 22, 2014, a class of prisoners from San Bernardino County Jail filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, under 42 U.S.C. §1983 and various state laws, against the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department and San Bernardino County. The plaintiffs, ... read more >
On October 22, 2014, a class of prisoners from San Bernardino County Jail filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, under 42 U.S.C. §1983 and various state laws, against the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department and San Bernardino County. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel and the ACLU of Southern California, sought damages, injunctive relief, and attorney's fees, alleging "systematic discrimination and denial of equal treatment" experienced by gay, lesbian, and transgender prisoners from San Bernardino County Jail. More specifically, the inmates argued that inmates who identified as gay, lesbian, or transgender were transferred and isolated from the general population, where they were denied equal access to opportunities to reduce their sentences, services, and programs and facilities. The inmates also alleged that they were often treated in an abusive and neglectful manner, being subject to derogatory name-calling and severe disciplinary measures.

The plaintiffs filed an amended complaint on January 14, 2015, and a second amended complaint on May 20. The plaintiffs sought to define the following four classes:

The California Damages Class consisting of "individuals who currently are, were in the past (within six months prior to the filing of Veronica Pratt’s Govt. Code §910 claim), or will be in future (until such time as the unlawful policies and practices cease or judgment is entered in this case), GBT inmates housed in the ALT."

The Federal Damages Class consisting of: "individuals who currently are, were in the past (within two years of the filing of this complaint) or will be in future (until such time as the unlawful policies and practices cease or judgment is entered in this case), GBT inmates housed in the ALT."

The California Injunctive Relief Class consisting of "individuals who currently are, or in the future without the intervention of this Court will be, GBT inmates housed in the ALT and subject to the unlawful treatment set forth in this Complaint."

The Federal Injunctive Relief Class consisting of "individuals who currently are, or in the future without the intervention of this court will be, GBT inmates housed in the ALT and subject to the unlawful treatment set forth in this Complaint."

On March 23, 2015, defendants moved to dismiss plaintiffs' claim, arguing that the plaintiffs did not allege facts sufficient to establish the elements required by state law and that governmental immunity shielded them from liability. On April 17, 2015, Judge Bernal granted in part and denied in part the defendants' motion to dismiss. The court found that the plaintiffs had sufficiently alleged coercion and thus did not dismiss the state law claims, but dismissed their claim concerning the public entities' mandatory duty, finding that affirmative acts of a public entity were not required and thus did not qualify as a mandatory duty. 2015 WL 10382396.

Litigation and discovery continued as the parties progressed toward trial. Then, on March 29, 2018, the parties filed a stipulation to vacate the trial based on a conditional settlement. The settlement had three prongs: (1) a damages pool to provide monetary compensation to the individual plaintiffs and the members of a damage class; (2) attorney's fees and costs to the plaintiff's counsel; and (3) "substantive changes to San Bernardino Sheriff's Department policies and practices." The parties stipulated that they hoped to finalize the Settlement Agreement by May 15, 2018. On March 30, 2018, Judge Jesus G. Bernal granted the motion and vacated the trial.

On August 15, 2018, plaintiffs moved to certify class. There would be two categories: (1) the damages class composed of individuals who--between October 22, 2012, and March 31, 2018--were Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender (GBT) inmates housed in the Alternative Lifestyle Tank of the San Bernardino County Jail; and (2) the injunctive relief class composed of individuals who were or would be GBT inmates housed in the San Bernardino County jails.

The parties also filed their settlement agreement with the court on August 15, 2018. The class fund was in the amount of $950,000 for class members. The plaintiffs' attorney's fees and costs amounted to $1,100,000. The settlement also stipulated an injunction spanning a three-year period starting when the court approved the settlement. The injunction established a committee to discuss housing, programming, education, and employment for inmates who identified as GBT. It also expanded resources for transgender inmates and allowed inmates to choose the gender of deputies performing searches and access to hormonal medication. It also ensured equal programming, work opportunities, and out-of-cell time for GBT inmates as compared to non-GBT inmates.

On September 21, 2018, Judge Jesus G. Bernal preliminarily approved the settlement, pending a fairness hearing scheduled for February 11, 2019.

On February 28, 2019, Judge Jesus G. Bernal approved the class-action settlement. It required the defendants to produce relevant documents for three years, concluding in February 2022, to ensure compliance with the injunction outlined above. 2019 WL 1109683.

In April 2019, the parties discovered a supplemental class list of 406 bookings that fell within the class definition that were omitted from the original class list. The supplemental class list had 274 supplemental class members. In May 2019, the parties agreed to incorporate the 274 additional members. The agreement increased by $76,304.39 and the settlement payment date was pushed back. On May 10, 2019, Judge Bernal granted preliminary approval of the modified settlement, pending a final approval hearing for the supplemental class members.

On July 30, 2019, Judge Bernal approved the amended class-action settlement, incorporating the supplemental class members into the settlement. Payment began August 9, 2019.

The injunction is scheduled to end in February 2022.

Priyah Kaul - 10/29/2014
Virginia Weeks - 03/24/2018
Cedar Hobbs - 03/16/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
Content of Injunction
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Hire
Reporting
Defendant-type
Corrections
Discrimination-basis
Gender identity
Sexual orientatation
General
Administrative segregation
Assault/abuse by staff
Classification / placement
Conditions of confinement
Disciplinary procedures
Gay/lesbian/transgender
Law library access
Recreation / Exercise
Sanitation / living conditions
Totality of conditions
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
State law
Defendant(s) San Bernardino County Jail
San Bernardino County Sheriff
Plaintiff Description Gay, lesbian, and transgender prisoners at San Bernardino County Jail.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU of Southern California
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2019 - 2022
Filed 10/22/2014
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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Docket(s)
5:14-cv-02171 (C.D. Cal.)
JC-CA-0109-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/29/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint for Damages and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 1]
JC-CA-0109-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/22/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order (1) Granting in part and Denying in part Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (Doc. No. 24) and (2) Vacating the April 20, 2015 Hearing (IN CHAMBERS) [ECF# 32] (2015 WL 10382396) (C.D. Cal.)
JC-CA-0109-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 04/17/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Class Action Second Amended Complaint for Damages and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 37]
JC-CA-0109-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/20/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Stipulation to Vacate Trial and Pretrial Deadlines Based on Conditional Settlement of Entire Action [ECF# 70]
JC-CA-0109-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/29/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Settlement Agreement [ECF# 78]
JC-CA-0109-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/15/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Preliminary Approval Order [ECF# 85] (C.D. Cal.)
JC-CA-0109-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/21/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judgment [ECF# 102] (C.D. Cal.)
JC-CA-0109-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/28/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order (1) Granting Plaintiffs’ Motion for Attorneys’ Fees (Dkt. No. 86); and (2) Granting Plaintiffs' Motion for Final Approval of Class Settlement (Dkt. No. 90) (IN CHAMBERS) [ECF# 103] (2019 WL 1109683) (C.D. Cal.)
JC-CA-0109-0008.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 02/28/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Approving Additional Class Notice and Amended Settlement [ECF# 124] (C.D. Cal.)
JC-CA-0109-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/10/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Final Approval Order of Amended Class Action Settlement [ECF# 134] (C.D. Cal.)
JC-CA-0109-0010.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/30/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Bernal, Jesus Gilberto (C.D. Cal.) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0109-0006 | JC-CA-0109-0007 | JC-CA-0109-0009 | JC-CA-0109-0010 | JC-CA-0109-9000
Pym, Sheri Court not on record [Magistrate] show/hide docs
JC-CA-0109-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Battles, Lindsay B. (California) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0109-0002 | JC-CA-0109-0004 | JC-CA-0109-9000
Eliasberg, Peter J. (California) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0109-0001 | JC-CA-0109-0002 | JC-CA-0109-9000
Fruitwala, Aditi (California) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0109-9000
Goad, Amanda C. (California) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0109-9000
Goodman, Melissa (California) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0109-0001 | JC-CA-0109-0002 | JC-CA-0109-9000
Hamme, Brendan (California) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0109-0001 | JC-CA-0109-0002 | JC-CA-0109-9000
Kaye, Ronald O. (California) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0109-0001 | JC-CA-0109-0002 | JC-CA-0109-9000
Litt, Barrett S. (California) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0109-0001 | JC-CA-0109-0002 | JC-CA-0109-0004 | JC-CA-0109-0005 | JC-CA-0109-9000
McLane, David S. (California) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0109-0001 | JC-CA-0109-0002 | JC-CA-0109-0004 | JC-CA-0109-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Coleman, Susan E. (California) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0109-9000
Kim, Christopher Taewoo (California) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0109-9000
Oyster, Nathan A (California) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0109-0004 | JC-CA-0109-0005 | JC-CA-0109-9000

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