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Case Name McBride v. Michigan Department of Corrections PC-MI-0036
Docket / Court 2:15-cv-11222 ( E.D. Mich. )
State/Territory Michigan
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Prison Conditions
Special Collection Post-PLRA Jail and Prison Private Settlement Agreements
Post-WalMart decisions on class certification
Attorney Organization NDRN/Protection & Advocacy Organizations
Washington Lawyers' Committee
Case Summary
On March 31, 2015, three prisoner-plaintiffs filed this putative class action lawsuit against the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC), alleging that MDOC was discriminating against them and other deaf and hard of hearing prisoners. The case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern ... read more >
On March 31, 2015, three prisoner-plaintiffs filed this putative class action lawsuit against the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC), alleging that MDOC was discriminating against them and other deaf and hard of hearing prisoners. The case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, and was assigned to Judge Sean Cox. The plaintiffs were represented by Michigan Protection and Advocacy, the Washington Lawyers’ Committee and private counsel.

The plaintiffs alleged that MDOC consistently failed to provide them with effective communication opportunities, depriving them of full participation in prison programs, services, and activities, including visitation, religious activities, and disciplinary and parole proceedings. They also alleged that since they couldn’t hear guards’ orders, they were sometimes unable to obey prison regulations and were then unfairly disciplined. The plaintiffs alleged that this treatment violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act, and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act. They also alleged that the absence of devices enabling them to communicate with their families and others violated their free speech rights under the First Amendment.

MDOC sought summary judgment on May 1, 2015. On October 30, 2015, the magistrate judge filed a Report and Recommendation to deny the motion. The court adopted this Report and Recommendation with an order denying MDOC’s motion for summary judgment on March 24, 2016. 2016 WL 1156740.

On June 30, 2017, the magistrate judge filed a Report and Recommendation to certify the plaintiffs’ class. The court adopted this recommendation on July 20, 2017, certifying the class as “all deaf and hard of hearing individuals in the custody of MDOC (whether now or in the future), who require hearing-related accommodations, including but not limited to interpreters, hearing devices, or other auxiliary aids or services, to communicate effectively and/or to access or participate in programs, services, or activities available to individuals in the custody of MDOC.” 2017 WL 3085785.

On March 9, 2018, the court partially granted the plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment, and denied MDOC’s motion for summary judgment. 294 F. Supp. 3d 695. The court found that the devices that MDOC provided to the plaintiffs failed to meet the standard of reasonable accommodation. The court therefore granted summary judgment on the plaintiffs’ ADA and Rehabilitation Act claims, and agreed that a training program would be appropriate as well. It ordered MDOC to make videophones available to all deaf and hard of hearing inmates and to provide necessary auxiliary aids to enable equal participation in prison programs and services, including access to ASL interpreters, mandatory training for officers and staff on how to interact with deaf and hard of hearing inmates, and appropriate compliance monitoring. The plaintiffs had additionally sought summary judgment on a claim that MDOC’s policies for classification and housing placement were insufficient; the court denied summary judgment on this claim.

By September 2018 the parties had reached a settlement agreement, and they filed a joint motion for preliminary approval of a class-action settlement on September 26, 2018. The settlement agreement required MDOC to provide specified accommodations for the plaintiffs and all other current and future class members, appointed a monitor to oversee enforcement of the settlement, and mandated that MDOC pay $1.3 million for plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees and costs. In particular, MDOC agreed to provide hearing assessments, adequately accommodating facilities, communications technology, and auxiliary aids and services necessary to allow the class members to access MDOC services, programs, and activities. The agreement also required MDOC to install non-auditory notification systems and develop and implement new procedures regarding the accommodations for MDOC guards and staff.

On January 15, 2019, the court granted the motion for preliminary approval of the settlement agreement and set a fairness hearing for March 28, 2019. The day after the hearing, the court issued an order granting the parties’ joint motion for final approval of the settlement. The settlement was set for enforcement until 2021.

On August 12, 2019, a hard of hearing MDOC prisoner (“Class Member 1”) filed, as a class member and as an interested party, a motion to enforce the settlement agreement. Another prisoner (“Class Member 2”), filed a motion to enforce the settlement agreement on October 10, 2019. On October 22, 2019, Class Member 2 filed a motion for a temporary restraining order, a preliminary injunction, and a protective order, claiming that MDOC subjected him to adverse treatment, such as discrimination and harassment, for filing a motion to enforce the settlement agreement. On December 2, 2019, Class Member 1 filed another motion to enforce the settlement agreement.

The post-judgment complaints were referred to the Magistrate Judge David R. Grand. On February 20, 2020, the court issued an order recommending the process by which such complaints would be adjudicated, including a mediation process. On the same day, the court recommended that Class Member 1’s motions be denied, holding that there was insufficient evidence to support the claims in his initial motion. The court held, among other things, that the “most efficient and effective means of addressing the issues [Class Member 1] raised in his motions is for him to first pursue them through the mediation process with the Settlement Monitor pursuant to the procedures outlined” in the magistrate judge’s order issued on the same day. On March 3, 2020, the magistrate judge issued a recommendation on settlement compliance, setting out deadlines for implementation of certain terms of the settlement agreement. The court adopted the recommendations on March 25, 2020. Class Member 1 appealed this decision.

The magistrate judge issued orders on Class Member 2’s motion for enforcement, temporary restraining order, and preliminary injunction on May 26, 2020. As to enforcement, the magistrate judge recommended denial, because the issues raised were not “exceptional or extraordinary.” Because Class Member 2 “has provided ample notice to Defendants as to his request for injunctive relief, the Court will treat his motion [for temporary restraining order] as one for preliminary injunction.” The magistrate judge recommended that the motion be denied, holding, among other things, that Class Member 2 had failed to show the likelihood of success on the merits. The court adopted the magistrate judge’s recommendations on July 6, 2020.

As of July 20, 2020, Class Member 1’s appeal is pending before the Sixth Circuit.

Sarah Prout - 09/04/2015
Katie Chan - 10/27/2017
Elizabeth Heise - 10/30/2018
Nathan Santoscoy - 04/19/2019
Bogyung Lim - 07/20/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Freedom of speech/association
Content of Injunction
Monitor/Master
Monitoring
Reasonable Accommodation
Recordkeeping
Training
Defendant-type
Corrections
Disability
Hearing impairment
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Barrier Removal
Classification / placement
Effective Communication (ADA)
Language access/needs
Reasonable Accommodations
Religious programs / policies
Retaliation
TTY/Close Captioning/Videophone/etc.
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
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.
Religious Freedom Rest. Act/Religious Land Use and Inst. Persons Act (RFRA/RLUIPA)
Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701
Defendant(s) Michigan Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description Three deaf or hard of hearing prisoners, on behalf of themselves and those similarly situated.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations NDRN/Protection & Advocacy Organizations
Washington Lawyers' Committee
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Declaratory Judgment
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Order Duration 2019 - 2021
Filed 03/31/2015
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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Docket(s)
2:15−cv−11222−SFC−DRG (E.D. Mich.)
PC-MI-0036-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/09/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Michigan Department of Corrections Facing Class Action Disability Lawsuit
PC-MI-0036-0001.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 03/31/2015
Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
Class Action Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 1]
PC-MI-0036-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/31/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Report and Recommendation to Deny Defendants' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [ECF# 28] (2015 WL 13221229)
PC-MI-0036-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 10/30/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Report and Recommendation to Grant Plaintiff's Motion for Class Certification [ECF# 94] (2017 WL 3097806)
PC-MI-0036-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 06/30/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Report and Recommendation to Grant in Part and Deny in Part Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment and to Deny Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment [ECF# 96]
PC-MI-0036-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/08/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion and Order Adopting 2/8/18 Report and Recommendation [ECF# 99] (294 F.Supp.3d 695) (E.D. Mich.)
PC-MI-0036-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 03/09/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Joint Motion for Approval of Class Action Settlement by Plaintiffs and Attached Settlement [ECF# 111]
PC-MI-0036-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/28/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Report and Recommendation to Deny Brandon Resch's Motions to Enforce Compliance with Settlement Agreement [ECF# 151]
PC-MI-0036-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/20/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Stipulated Order on Settlement Compliance [ECF# 152] (E.D. Mich.)
PC-MI-0036-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/03/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Overruling Objections (ECF No. 153) and Adopting 2/20/20 Report and Recommendation (ECF No. 151) [ECF# 154] (2020 WL 1445784) (E.D. Mich.)
PC-MI-0036-0010.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 03/25/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Report and Recommendation to Deny Edward Burley's Motion for Relief from Judgment (ECF No. 133) [ECF# 156]
PC-MI-0036-0011.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/26/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Report and Recommendation to Deny Edward Burley's Motion to Enforce Compliance with the Settlement Agreement (ECF No. 135) and Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction (ECF No. 137) [ECF# 157]
PC-MI-0036-0012.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/26/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Striking Brandon Resch's Objections (ECF No. 162); Adopting Magistrate Judge Grand's May 26, 2020 Reports and Recommendations (ECF Nos. 156 and 157); and Denying Edward Burley's Motions (ECF Nos. 133, 135, 137) [ECF# 164] (2020 WL 3639571) (E.D. Mich.)
PC-MI-0036-0013.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 07/06/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Cox, Sean Francis (E.D. Mich.) show/hide docs
PC-MI-0036-0006 | PC-MI-0036-0009 | PC-MI-0036-0010 | PC-MI-0036-0013 | PC-MI-0036-9000
Grand, David R. (E.D. Mich.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
PC-MI-0036-0003 | PC-MI-0036-0004 | PC-MI-0036-0005 | PC-MI-0036-0008 | PC-MI-0036-0009 | PC-MI-0036-0011 | PC-MI-0036-0012 | PC-MI-0036-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bartenstein, Stephen Curtis (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-MI-0036-0002 | PC-MI-0036-0007 | PC-MI-0036-0009 | PC-MI-0036-9000
Davis, Chris E. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PC-MI-0036-0002 | PC-MI-0036-0007 | PC-MI-0036-9000
Gerking, Megan E. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-MI-0036-9000
Golden, Deborah Maxine (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-MI-0036-0002
Hegreness, Matthew J. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-MI-0036-0002
Kempfer, Brian Eugene (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-MI-0036-0009 | PC-MI-0036-9000
Lazerow, Andrew D. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-MI-0036-0002 | PC-MI-0036-0007 | PC-MI-0036-0009 | PC-MI-0036-9000
Levitz, Phillip J. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-MI-0036-0007 | PC-MI-0036-9000
Mincberg, Elliot M. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-MI-0036-0002 | PC-MI-0036-0007
Singer, Abraham (Michigan) show/hide docs
PC-MI-0036-0002 | PC-MI-0036-0007 | PC-MI-0036-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Foster, Jennifer A (Michigan) show/hide docs
PC-MI-0036-9000
Govorchin, A. Peter (Michigan) show/hide docs
PC-MI-0036-0007 | PC-MI-0036-9000
Grant, Gary L. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PC-MI-0036-9000
Jenkins, Robert J. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PC-MI-0036-9000
Long, James E. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PC-MI-0036-0007 | PC-MI-0036-9000
Mertens, Scott A. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PC-MI-0036-0009 | PC-MI-0036-9000
Miller, Jeanmarie (Michigan) show/hide docs
PC-MI-0036-0007 | PC-MI-0036-9000
Soros, Allan J. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PC-MI-0036-0007 | PC-MI-0036-9000

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