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Case Name Lewis v. Cain PC-LA-0015
Docket / Court 3:15-cv-00318 ( M.D. La. )
State/Territory Louisiana
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Prison Conditions
Special Collection COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Post-WalMart decisions on class certification
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
NDRN/Protection & Advocacy Organizations
Case Summary
COVID-19 Summary: This class-action lawsuit originated with a claim that the Louisiana State Penitentiary provided inadequate medical care that violated the plaintiffs' Eighth Amendment rights. Upon learning that the penitentiary planned to transfer individuals with COVID-19 to the penitentiary, ... read more >
COVID-19 Summary: This class-action lawsuit originated with a claim that the Louisiana State Penitentiary provided inadequate medical care that violated the plaintiffs' Eighth Amendment rights. Upon learning that the penitentiary planned to transfer individuals with COVID-19 to the penitentiary, the plaintiffs filed an emergency motion to stop the transfer and re-open discovery to determine that the defendant's policies for COVID-19 were adequate. Both motions were denied as non-justiciable.


On May 20, 2015, inmates incarcerated at Louisiana State Penitentiary filed this class-action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana (Baton Rouge). The plaintiffs sued the Louisiana State Penitentiary and the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act, and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiffs, represented by the ACLU and private counsel, asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief. The plaintiffs claimed to have serious medical needs that went untreated, undertreated, or mistreated by the defendants in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The plaintiffs claimed that defendants engaged in systemic practices that exposed the plaintiffs to unacceptable risks to their health. These practices included routinely delaying specialty care, declining to provide medically necessary treatment, discouraging plaintiffs from requesting medical assistance, punishing plaintiffs who seek medical treatment, and maintaining an insufficient number of qualified medical personnel. The case was assigned to Judge Brian A. Jackson.

On December 14, 2015, the plaintiffs filed a motion for Entry of Protective Order Governing Protected and Individually Identifiable Health Information (PHI/IIHI). The order was granted on December 16, 2015 and the terms will survive through the end of litigation, and continue to fully apply to all materials containing PHI/IIHI. Further, the court will retain jurisdiction over all parties and persons who received access to such materials, indefinitely.

Plaintiffs moved for class certification on October 14, 2016. Plaintiffs moved for partial summary judgment on their ADA and Eighth Amendment claims on January 6, 2017. Defendants moved to disqualify the judge on February 28, 2017. The court (Judge Brian A. Jackson) granted defendants' motion to disqualify the judge on April 20, 2017, and the case was reassigned to Judge Shelly D. Dick. Defendants filed a sealed motion for summary judgment on May 12, 2017. The court denied both parties' motions for summary judgment on September 21, 2017, but granted parties to re-urge the motions, without being required to refile them, following the hearing on the class action certification.

The court granted class action certification on February 26, 2018 as "all inmates who now, or will be in the future, incarcerated at LSP" and a granted a subclass of "all qualified individuals with a disability, as defined by the ADA/RA, who are now, or will be in the future, incarcerated at LSP." Defendants subsequently moved to re-urge their motion for summary judgment on July 11, 2018. A bench trial was held between October 11 and October 25, 2018.

After both parties submitted post-trial briefs, they engaged in a settlement conference before the court on July 24, 2019. The parties were unable to reach a resolution. While negotiations continued, the court conducted a site visit at Angola State Penitentiary on February 4, 2020.

Almost three weeks later, the court issued an order informing the parties that it was preparing to issue a ruling on the merits. The order stated that the court planned to find the medical care at Angola State Penitentiary unconstitutional in some respects and was prepared to order injunctive relief to remediate these findings. The court encouraged the litigants to reach an agreement on some or all of the claims.

The sudden onset of the COVID-19 pandemic led the plaintiffs to file an emergency motion to re-open discovery on March 28. Given the congregated nature of the Louisiana State Penitentiary and penitentiary's history of inadequate medical care, the plaintiffs were concerned that the penitentiary would be a "tinderbox" for a COVID-19 outbreak. Therefore, the plaintiffs moved to re-open discovery for the "limited and sole purpose of ensuring that Defendants' policies and practices concerning COVID-19 do not place class members at a substantial risk of serious harm or likely death."

Three days later, the plaintiffs filed an emergency motion to restrain the defendants from transferring COVID-19 carriers to the Louisiana State Penitentiary. The plaintiffs argued that the penitentiary already possesses inadequate medical care (as evidenced by the original claim of this case alleging that the medical care was unconstitutional), and that the planned transfer would place the class members at particular risk given that many members are either elderly or suffer from underlying medical conditions. If the transfer were to occur as planned, the plaintiffs argue, the harm would be irreparable.

On April 2, Judge Shelly Dick denied the plaintiff's Emergency Motion to Re-open Discovery, and denied the plaintiff's Emergency Motion to Restrain Defendants from Transferring COVID-19 Carriers. The judge found both measures to be non-justiciable. The two measures were found to be beyond the scope of the original claims asserted, and the plaintiff did not cite an authority for joining these independent claims to their ongoing case. Further, Judge Dick found the plaintiff's measures to be based on speculation and conjecture as to what the defendant "might" do with respect to transferring inmates.

A settlement conference was held on June 4, and the case is ongoing with minimal docket activity.

Lakshmi Gopal - 10/17/2015
Elizabeth Heise - 10/28/2018
Justin Hill - 06/15/2020
Chandler Hart-McGonigle - 11/01/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process
Due Process: Substantive Due Process
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief denied
Preliminary relief granted
Recordkeeping
Required disclosure
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
Defendant-type
Corrections
Disability
Mental impairment
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
Sex discrimination
General
Bathing and hygiene
Conditions of confinement
Personal injury
Record-keeping
Records Disclosure
Rehabilitation
Sanitation / living conditions
Medical/Mental Health
COVID-19 Mitigation Denied
COVID-19 Mitigation Requested
Medical care, general
Medical care, unspecified
Medication, administration of
Mental health care, general
Mental health care, unspecified
Untreated pain
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.
Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701
Defendant(s) Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections
Plaintiff Description Prisoners currently incarcerated at Louisiana State Penitentiary.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
NDRN/Protection & Advocacy Organizations
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filed 05/20/2015
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)
  Lewis v. Cain (Angola Medical)
laaclu.org
Date: Apr. 1, 2020
By: American Civil Liberties Union
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  At Angola Prison, Getting Sick Can Be A Death Sentence
http://inthesetimes.com/features/angola-prison-healthcare-abuse-investigation.html
Date: Dec. 20, 2016
By: Katie Rose Quant and James Ridgeway (In These Times)
Citation: Katie Rose Quant & James Ridgeway, At Angola Prison, Getting Sick Can Be A Death Sentence, In These Times (December 20, 2016).
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
3:15-cv-318 (M.D. La.)
PC-LA-0015-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/24/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PC-LA-0015-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/20/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Protective Order Governing Protected and Individually Identifiable Health Information [ECF# 27] (M.D. La.)
PC-LA-0015-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/16/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Class Action Complaint [ECF# 71]
PC-LA-0015-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/25/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order on Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel Production [ECF# 121] (M.D. La.)
PC-LA-0015-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/31/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Ruling [ECF# 394] (324 F.R.D. 159) (M.D. La.)
PC-LA-0015-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 02/26/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Emergency Motion to Re-Open Discovery Regarding COVID-19 [ECF# 580]
PC-LA-0015-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/28/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Emergency Motion to Restrain Defendants From Transferring COVID-19 Carriers to Louisiana State Penitentiary [ECF# 582]
PC-LA-0015-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/31/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Ruling [ECF# 587] (2020 WL 1614424) (M.D. La.)
PC-LA-0015-0008.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 04/02/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Bourgeois, Richard L. (M.D. La.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
PC-LA-0015-0002 | PC-LA-0015-0004 | PC-LA-0015-9000
Dick, Shelly Deckert (M.D. La.) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0015-0005 | PC-LA-0015-0008 | PC-LA-0015-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Angelson, Meredith (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0015-9000
Compa, Elizabeth Claire (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0015-0003 | PC-LA-0015-9000
Davidson, Jared (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0015-0006 | PC-LA-0015-0007 | PC-LA-0015-9000
Dubner, Jeffrey B. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0015-0001 | PC-LA-0015-0003 | PC-LA-0015-0006 | PC-LA-0015-0007 | PC-LA-0015-9000
Hamilton, Bruce Warfield (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0015-0006 | PC-LA-0015-0007 | PC-LA-0015-9000
Harrison, Justin Paul (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0015-9000
Johnson, Jamila A. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
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Kumar, Nishi Lal (Louisiana) show/hide docs
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Lospennato, Ronald K (Louisiana) show/hide docs
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Montagnes, Mercedes Hardy (Louisiana) show/hide docs
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Navalance, Erica Lauren (Louisiana) show/hide docs
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Sirmon, Candice C. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
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Small, Daniel A. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
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Tait, Miranda (Louisiana) show/hide docs
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Warden, Derek Allen (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0015-9000
Zarrow, Amanda Christine (Louisiana) show/hide docs
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Defendant's Lawyers Archey, Connell Lee (Louisiana) show/hide docs
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Barient, Andrea Leigh (Louisiana) show/hide docs
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Bond, Caroline Tomeny (Louisiana) show/hide docs
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Clark, Colin Andrew (Louisiana) show/hide docs
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Cody, Jeffrey K. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
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Conine, John Clifton Jr. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
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Dufrene, Kathryn (Louisiana) show/hide docs
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Fernandez, Keith (Louisiana) show/hide docs
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Freel, Angelique Duhon (Louisiana) show/hide docs
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Guillot, Grant Joseph (Louisiana) show/hide docs
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Hillburn, James L. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
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Holmes, George (Louisiana) show/hide docs
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Murrill, Elizabeth Baker (Louisiana) show/hide docs
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Robert, Randal J. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
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Roper, Mary E. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
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Shows, Edmond Wade (Louisiana) show/hide docs
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White, Michelle Marney (Louisiana) show/hide docs
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Wilton, Patricia Hill (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PC-LA-0015-9000

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