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Case Name Betances v. Fischer CJ-NY-0011
Docket / Court 1:11-cv-03200 ( S.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Criminal Justice (Other)
Case Summary
On May 11, 2011, three inmates given extra-judicial sentences of post-release supervision filed this class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York under 42 U.S.C. §1983. The named defendants were the New York State Department of Correctional Services (DOCS) ... read more >
On May 11, 2011, three inmates given extra-judicial sentences of post-release supervision filed this class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York under 42 U.S.C. §1983. The named defendants were the New York State Department of Correctional Services (DOCS) and the New York State Division of Parole (DOP). They claimed that the defendants administratively assigned sentences of post-release supervision (PRS) and that only a judge could impose an additional sentence under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. Represented by private counsel, the plaintiffs sought declaratory relief, class certification, and compensatory and punitive damages.

The plaintiffs filed an amended complaint on October 20, 2011, which added two named plaintiffs to the action, bringing the total to three.

On November 15, 2011, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim on the ground of qualified immunity. On February 10, 2012, Judge Shira A. Scheindlin denied the motion. Bentley v. Dennison, 852 F. Supp. 2d 379 (S.D.N.Y. 2012). The court found that the plaintiffs had made plausible factual allegations that the defendants were responsible for the deprivation of their constitutional rights and that the plaintiffs' rights were clearly established under Earley v. Murray, 451 F.3d 71 (2d Cir. 2006). The defendants appealed from the denial of their motion to dismiss, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the District Court's holding on July 8, 2014. The appeals court held that, under Earley, the administrative imposition PRS terms not imposed by the court was unconstitutional, thus precluding a finding of qualified immunity in this case.

On July 16, 2014, the case was referred to Magistrate Judge James C. Francis for settlement purposes.

On January 28, 2015, Judge Shira A. Scheindlin granted the plaintiffs' Motion to Certify Class. The court found that the plaintiffs satisfied the requirements of class certification. The class consisted of “all persons who were sentenced to prison in New York State for a fixed term that did not include a term of PRS, but who were nevertheless subjected to PRS after the maximum expiration dates of their determinate sentences and after June 9, 2006.”

On May 8, 2015, the defendants requested summary judgment. They argued that they were entitled to qualified immunity and that the plaintiffs had failed to establish the personal involvement of certain defendants. The defendants also moved to modify the class to exclude certain class members’ claims that they alleged were barred by statute of limitations, and to exclude class members whose claims they alleged were precluded. Subsequently, the plaintiffs filed a cross-motion for partial summary judgment on the question of personal liability for three officers.

On August 6, 2015, Judge Scheindlin granted in part and denied in part the defendants' motion for summary judgment and granted the plaintiffs' partial motion for summary judgment. The court found that since the defendants had failed to make reasonable efforts to comply with precedent that the imposition of post-release supervisory sentences was unconstitutional, they were not entitled to qualified immunity. The court further found that the three individual defendants cited in the plaintiffs' motion could be held personally liable as a matter of law, while the court granted defendants' motion for summary judgment with respect to the remaining DOP defendants. Regarding the defendants' remaining claims, the court held that the action was not barred by the statute of limitations or collateral estoppel.

The defendants filed an interlocutory appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on qualified immunity grounds. The plaintiffs then filed a motion for an order certifying defendants' interlocutory appeal as frivolous. On October 14, 2015, the District Court found that dual jurisdiction was warranted between the District Court and the Court of Appeals because the defendants' renewed qualified immunity claims were frivolous. Thus, the District Court determined that it retained jurisdiction despite the interlocutory appeal.

However, on December 16, 2015, the Court of Appeals ordered a stay of proceedings in the District Court pending resolution of the defendants' interlocutory appeal. On September 16, 2016, the Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court's denial of qualified immunity to the defendants. Betances v. Fisher, 837 F.3d 162 (2d Cir. 2016). During this period of time, the case was reassigned to District Judge Deborah A. Batts.

Following several years of additional discovery and intermittent attempts at settlement discussions, the defendants filed a motion for summary judgment and to modify or decertify the class. Specifically, the defendants sought to: (1) dismiss class members whose claims were untimely; (2) dismiss class members who had claims for compensatory damages and award them nominal damages; (3) if the court deemed any class members' damages could be more than nominal, dismiss claims for damages not caused by the defendants; (4) modify the class to exclude plaintiffs if they were referred for resentencings, or limit their damages; (5) decertify the class for purposes of damages; and (6) preclude claims for false imprisonment.

As of October 2018, the Court had agreed to hear oral argument on the defendants' motion for summary judgment and class decertification. Oral argument is scheduled for February 5, 2019.

Kevin Nomura - 02/16/2015
Eva Richardson - 12/24/2018
Eva Richardson - 01/31/2019


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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
Jurisdiction-wide
General
Courts
Over/Unlawful Detention
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) New York State Department of Correctional Services
New York State Division of Parole
Plaintiff Description Inmates in the custody of the New York State Department of Correctional Services who were given extra-judicial sentences of post-release supervision.
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filing Year 2011
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)
Docket(s)
1:11-cv-03200 (S.D.N.Y.)
CJ-NY-0011-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/02/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
CJ-NY-0011-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/11/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amended Complaint [ECF# 5]
CJ-NY-0011-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/20/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion and Order Denying Defendant's 12(b)(6) Motion [ECF# 32] (852 F.Supp.2d 379) (S.D.N.Y.)
CJ-NY-0011-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 02/10/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
2nd Cir. Court of Appeals Summary Order Affirming District Court Denial of 12(b)(6) [Ct. of App. ECF# 42] (519 Fed.Appx. 39)
CJ-NY-0011-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 07/08/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion and Order [ECF# 77] (304 F.R.D. 416) (S.D.N.Y.)
CJ-NY-0011-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 01/28/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion and Order [ECF# 112] (S.D.N.Y.)
CJ-NY-0011-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/06/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion [ECF# 61] (S.D.N.Y.)
CJ-NY-0011-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/16/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
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Judges Droney, Christopher Fitzgerald (Second Circuit, D. Conn.) show/hide docs
CJ-NY-0011-0004
Katzmann, Robert A. (Second Circuit) show/hide docs
CJ-NY-0011-0004
Kearse, Amalya Lyle (Second Circuit) show/hide docs
CJ-NY-0011-0004
Scheindlin, Shira A. (E.D.N.Y., S.D.N.Y.) show/hide docs
CJ-NY-0011-0003 | CJ-NY-0011-0005 | CJ-NY-0011-0006
Plaintiff's Lawyers Brinckerhoff, Matthew D. (New York) show/hide docs
CJ-NY-0011-0001 | CJ-NY-0011-0002 | CJ-NY-0011-9000
Horowitz, Hayley (New York) show/hide docs
CJ-NY-0011-9000
Kaufman, Alanna Gayle (New York) show/hide docs
CJ-NY-0011-9000
Pulver, Adam R (New York) show/hide docs
CJ-NY-0011-0002 | CJ-NY-0011-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Cooney, James Brennan (New York) show/hide docs
CJ-NY-0011-9000
Hathaway, Barbara (New York) show/hide docs
CJ-NY-0011-9000
Hehenberger, Anna (New York) show/hide docs
CJ-NY-0011-9000
Keane, Michael J. (New York) show/hide docs
CJ-NY-0011-9000
Okereke, Christina Chinwe (New York) show/hide docs
CJ-NY-0011-9000

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