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Case Name Doe v. Michigan Department of Corrections PC-MI-0039
Docket / Court 13-001196-CZ ( State Court )
State/Territory Michigan
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Special Collection Solitary confinement
Case Summary
On December 9, 2013, a group of unidentified minors who were incarcerated in Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) adult prisons filed this class action lawsuit against the MDOC in the Michigan Circuit Court for the County of Washtenaw. Represented by attorneys from a civil rights law firm, the ... read more >
On December 9, 2013, a group of unidentified minors who were incarcerated in Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) adult prisons filed this class action lawsuit against the MDOC in the Michigan Circuit Court for the County of Washtenaw. Represented by attorneys from a civil rights law firm, the plaintiffs brought this action under the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA), MCL 37.2301 et seq. The plaintiffs alleged that the MDOC placed at least 500 minors in the three years leading up to this lawsuit in adult prisons without adequate supervision, and as a result these minors had been subjected to physical and sexual violence. The plaintiffs claimed that the MDOC's policies violated their rights under the ELCRA by creating a sexually hostile environment, and requested monetary damages and declaratory and injunctive relief.

In addition to this suit, the plaintiffs filed a suit arising out of the occurrence alleged here in the Eastern District of Michigan. That suit is available here.

On February 18, 2014, the MDOC moved for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiffs failed to comply with MCL 600.5507(2), a provision of the Prison Litigation Reform Act requiring that a prisoner filing a lawsuit concerning prison conditions disclose the number of civil actions and appeals the prisoner previously filed. Because the plaintiffs had made insufficient disclosures, the MDOC argued the case should be dismissed under MCL 600.5507(3). The plaintiffs argued that MCL 600.5507 only applied to complaints filed on behalf of indigent prisoners, which did not include the prisoners in this case. Judge Carol Kuhnke denied the motion on March 13.

On March 7, 2014, the plaintiffs moved for class certification. Judge Kuhnke granted the motion on October 30, after extensive discovery.

On March 25, 2014, the MDOC again moved for summary judgment, this time arguing that that the plaintiffs failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted because the plain language of the ELCRA, as amended in 1999, provided that a "public service" did not include a state or county correctional facility with respect to prisoners. The plaintiffs argued that this amendment to the ELCRA was unconstitutional under the equal protection clauses of the Michigan and U.S. Constitutions. Judge Kuhnke heard oral arguments regarding this motion on April 23, and on April 30 entered an order denying the motion of summary judgment. Judge Kuhnke held that the amendment was indeed unconstitutional in that it deprived prisoners of equal protection under the law. The MDOC then appealed both denials of summary judgment.

On August 25, 2015, the Michigan Court of Appeals issued an opinion holding that the trial court had erred in both denials of summary judgment for the MDOC. The Court of Appeals held that this suit should have been dismissed pursuant to MCL 600.5507(3) because the plaintiffs had failed to disclose sufficiently as required by MCL 600.5507(2). In addition, the Court of Appeals found that the 1999 amendment to the ELCRA was not unconstitutional, and as such the plaintiffs were precluded from bringing suit under the ELCRA. The Court of Appeals remanded the case to the trial court to enter summary judgment in favor of the defendants.

On September 15, 2015, the plaintiffs moved to file an amended complaint to address the deficiencies the Court of Appeals noted. Judge Kuhnke granted the motion on October 1, and the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint on October 2. The MDOC filed for summary judgment for this new complaint on October 8. The court granted in part and denied in part summary judgment on Mar. 30, 2016. The MDOC appealed once again, and the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's order on Sept. 14.

On Oct. 4, the court granted the plaintiffs' motion to vacate judgment and reinstate their ELCRA claims and motion for rehearing and/or reconsideration. The same day, the court consolidated this case with another case pending before the court, No. 15­-1006-­CZ.

Meanwhile, the MDOC appealed the appellate court's Sept. 14 decision to the state Supreme Court, but the appeal was denied on Apr. 4, 2017.

Oral argument is set for Sept. 28, 2017.

This case is still ongoing in Michigan state court.

John He - 11/06/2015
Virginia Weeks - 09/20/2017

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Affected Gender
Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
Age discrimination
Assault/abuse by residents/inmates/students
Assault/abuse by staff
Classification / placement
Conditions of confinement
Disciplinary segregation
Excessive force
Failure to supervise
Over/Unlawful Detention
Prison Rape Elimination Act
Sex w/ staff; sexual harassment by staff
Sexual abuse by residents/inmates
Solitary confinement/Supermax (conditions or process)
Youth / Adult separation
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Causes of Action State law
Defendant(s) Michigan Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description A group of unidentified minors who were incarcerated in Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) adult prisons
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 None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filing Year 2013
Case Ongoing Yes
Case Listing PC-MI-0033 : DOE v. Michigan Department of Corrections (E.D. Mich.)
Additional Resources
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  Similar accounts in suit over alleged teen prison rapes pose challenge to state's defense
The Bridge
Date: Apr. 14, 2015
By: Ted Roelofs (The Bridge)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Civil Rights Injunctions Over Time: A Case Study of Jail and Prison Court Orders
N.Y.U. Law Review
Date: May 2006
By: Margo Schlanger (Washington University Faculty)
Citation: 81 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 550 (2006)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

  Judicial Policy Making and the Modern State: How the Courts Reformed America's Prisons
Date: Jan. 1, 1998
By: Malcolm M. Feeley & Edward Rubin (UC Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law & Vanderbilt School of Law Faculty Faculty)
Citation: (1998)
[ Detail ]

13-001196-CZ (State Trial Court)
PC-MI-0039-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/29/2017
Source: State Court Website
General Documents
PC-MI-0039-0001.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 12/09/2013
Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
Order Denying Defendants' Motion for Summary Disposition Filed Under MCR 2.116(C)(8)
PC-MI-0039-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/30/2014
Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
Plaintiffs/Appellees' Response to Defendants/Appellants' Brief on Leave in Case No. 321756
PC-MI-0039-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/21/2015
Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
[Transcript, Including Order] Hearing: Defendants' Motion for Summary Disposition
PC-MI-0039-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/23/2015
Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
[Opinion of Michigan Court of Appeals] (878 N.W.2d 293)
PC-MI-0039-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | External Link | Detail
Date: 08/25/2015
Source: State Court Website
Judges Beckering, Jane M (State Appellate Court)
Donofrio, Pat M. (State Appellate Court)
Kuhnke, Carol (State Trial Court)
PC-MI-0039-0004 | PC-MI-0039-0005 | PC-MI-0039-9000
Riordan, Michael J (State Appellate Court)
Plaintiff's Lawyers Addis, Anlyn (Michigan)
PC-MI-0039-0001 | PC-MI-0039-0002 | PC-MI-0039-9000
Chaney, Nakisha N. (Michigan)
PC-MI-0039-0001 | PC-MI-0039-0002 | PC-MI-0039-9000
Labelle, Deborah A. (Michigan)
PC-MI-0039-0001 | PC-MI-0039-0002 | PC-MI-0039-0004 | PC-MI-0039-9000
Macey, Edward Alan (Michigan)
PC-MI-0039-0001 | PC-MI-0039-0002 | PC-MI-0039-9000
McGehee, Cary S. (Michigan)
PC-MI-0039-0001 | PC-MI-0039-0002 | PC-MI-0039-9000
Pitt, Peggy Goldberg (Michigan)
PC-MI-0039-0001 | PC-MI-0039-0002 | PC-MI-0039-9000
Pitt, Michael L. (Michigan)
PC-MI-0039-0001 | PC-MI-0039-0002 | PC-MI-0039-9000
Rivers, Beth M. (Michigan)
Salvatore, Jennifer B. (Michigan)
PC-MI-0039-0001 | PC-MI-0039-0002 | PC-MI-0039-9000
Soble, Richard (Michigan)
PC-MI-0039-0001 | PC-MI-0039-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Antisdale, Terri L (Michigan)
Donnelly, Mark E. (Michigan)
Govorchin, A. Peter (Michigan)
PC-MI-0039-0004 | PC-MI-0039-9000
Grossi, Christina M. (Michigan)
Meingast, Heather S. (Michigan)
Murphy, Michael F (Michigan)
Odea, P. Kelly (Michigan)
Reyes, Cori E. (Michigan)

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