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Case Name Disability Rights Montana v. Opper PC-MT-0008
Docket / Court 2:14-cv-00025-SEH ( D. Mont. )
State/Territory Montana
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Prison Conditions
Special Collection Solitary confinement
Attorney Organization ACLU Affiliates (any)
Case Summary
On March 31, 2014, Disability Rights Montana (DRM), a not-for-profit advocating for individuals with serious mental illness incarcerated at the Montana State Prison, filed this lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Montana. The plaintiff sued under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, ... read more >
On March 31, 2014, Disability Rights Montana (DRM), a not-for-profit advocating for individuals with serious mental illness incarcerated at the Montana State Prison, filed this lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Montana. The plaintiff sued under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violations of mentally ill prisoners' Eighth Amendment rights to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. The plaintiff also brought claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act. The plaintiff brought this lawsuit against the officials running various Montana governmental entities, including the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS), the Montana State Hospital, and the Montana Department of Corrections (DOC). The plaintiff was represented by the ACLU of Montana and private attorneys, and asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief.

The complaint alleged that the Montana State Prison violated the Eighth Amendment rights of prisoners with serious mental illness by, among other things, withholding medication, misdiagnosing prisoners with a long history of mental illness, and punishing prisoners for behavior caused by their mental illness. The complaint further alleged that prisoners with mental illness were routinely subjected to years of solitary confinement or so-called "behavior modification plans" that deprived them of clothing, working toilets, and proper food, all of which needlessly magnified the harms these prisoners suffered.

With regard to a subset of prisoners—individuals who had been sentenced as "guilty but mentally ill" (GBMI)—the plaintiff also alleged violations of their due process rights under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. Specifically, the plaintiff alleged that these individuals sentenced as GBMI were being transferred to the Montana State Prison, either because the Hospital wanted to open up bed space, or because it wanted to avoid treating prisoners who were disliked by staff. The plaintiff claimed these transfers would occur without giving patients any real opportunity to challenge them.

On July 24, 2014, United States District Judge Sam E. Haddon dismissed parts of the case against the defendant officers who represented the DPHHS and the Montana State Hospital. The court found that the complaint did not contain any allegations of conduct that could be traced to those defendants because neither had been working there at the time these underlying events occurred. The court also found that the allegations related to the GBMI transfers failed to provide the necessary specificity mandated by pleading standards.

Following a status conference, DRM was ordered to file the action as a separate case with a separate case number. The second case is available on the Clearinghouse as Disability Rights Montana v. Batista.

The plaintiff responded by filing two rounds of amended complaints, which named new individual officers as representatives of the defendants. The Montana DPHHS and Montana State Hospital defendants moved to dismiss the second amended complaint for failure to state a claim but the district court summarily denied it on September 3, 2015.

However, on March 31, 2016, the parties stipulated to a dismissal without prejudice with regard to the DPHHS and the Montana State Hospital defendants. As such, the case is closed.

Kat Brausch - 02/16/2016
Chris Pollack - 04/17/2019
Cedar Hobbs - 10/06/2019
Gabrielle Simeck - 02/26/2021


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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
Disability
Mental impairment
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Administrative segregation
Bathing and hygiene
Bathrooms
Classification / placement
Conditions of confinement
Confinement/isolation
Disciplinary procedures
Disciplinary segregation
Reasonable Accommodations
Reasonable Modifications
Sanitation / living conditions
Solitary confinement/Supermax (conditions or process)
Suicide prevention
Medical/Mental Health
Mental health care, general
Mental health care, unspecified
Suicide prevention
Mental Disability
Depression
Mental Illness, Unspecified
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.
Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701
Defendant(s) Montana
Montana
Montana State Hospital
Montana State Prison
Plaintiff Description Disability Rights Montana, Inc., a nonprofit advocacy agency acting on behalf of prisoners with serious mental illness in the Montana State Prison.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Affiliates (any)
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Form of Settlement Voluntary Dismissal
Filed 03/31/2014
Case Closing Year 2016
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing PC-MT-0010 : Disability Rights Montana v. Batista (D. Mont.)
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
Court Docket(s)
D. Mont.
03/31/2016
2:14-cv-00025
PC-MT-0008-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
D. Mont.
03/28/2014
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PC-MT-0008-0001.pdf | External Link | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Mont.
07/24/2014
Memorandum and Order [ECF# 33]
PC-MT-0008-0004.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Mont.
10/31/2014
Amended Complaint [ECF# 42]
PC-MT-0008-0005.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Mont.
05/08/2015
Second Amended Complaint Against Defendants Mike Batista and Leroy Kirkegard [ECF# 66]
PC-MT-0008-0008.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Mont.
05/08/2015
Second Amended Complaint as to Defendants Opper and Glueckert [ECF# 67]
PC-MT-0008-0007.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
U.S. Court of Appeals
07/19/2019
Opinion [Ct. of App. ECF# 89-1] (930 F.3d 1090)
PC-MT-0008-0011.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
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Judges Haddon, Sam E. (D. Mont.) show/hide docs
PC-MT-0008-0004 | PC-MT-0008-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Boggs, Tammy H. (California) show/hide docs
PC-MT-0008-0005 | PC-MT-0008-9000
Conley, Anna (Montana) show/hide docs
PC-MT-0008-0005 | PC-MT-0008-0007 | PC-MT-0008-0008 | PC-MT-0008-9000
Ellingson, Jon (Montana) show/hide docs
PC-MT-0008-0005 | PC-MT-0008-0007 | PC-MT-0008-0008 | PC-MT-0008-9000
Gray, Kyle A. (Montana) show/hide docs
PC-MT-0008-0001 | PC-MT-0008-0005 | PC-MT-0008-0007 | PC-MT-0008-0008 | PC-MT-0008-9000
Lee, Matthew D. (Wisconsin) show/hide docs
PC-MT-0008-9000
Miller, Adrian Ann (Montana) show/hide docs
PC-MT-0008-0007 | PC-MT-0008-0008 | PC-MT-0008-9000
Simmons, Jeffrey A. (Wisconsin) show/hide docs
PC-MT-0008-0005 | PC-MT-0008-0007 | PC-MT-0008-0008 | PC-MT-0008-9000
Taylor, James Park (Montana) show/hide docs
PC-MT-0008-0005 | PC-MT-0008-0007 | PC-MT-0008-0008 | PC-MT-0008-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Ambrose, Colleen E (Montana) show/hide docs
PC-MT-0008-9000
Crowley, William L. (Montana) show/hide docs
PC-MT-0008-9000
Kauffman, Michael Alan (Montana) show/hide docs
PC-MT-0008-9000
Kohman, Paulette L. (Washington) show/hide docs
PC-MT-0008-9000
Leonard, Thomas J (Montana) show/hide docs
PC-MT-0008-9000
Rogers, Mary Cile Glover (Montana) show/hide docs
PC-MT-0008-9000

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