University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name McGee v. Pallito PC-VT-0005
Docket / Court 04-cv-00335-JGM ( D. Vt. )
State/Territory Vermont
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Special Collection Post-WalMart decisions on class certification
Case Summary
On December 9, 2004, an inmate in the Vermont Department of Corrections filed this lawsuit in U.S. District Court District of Vermont. The plaintiff sued the Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Corrections and the Superintendents of Southern State Correctional Facility and Northern State ... read more >
On December 9, 2004, an inmate in the Vermont Department of Corrections filed this lawsuit in U.S. District Court District of Vermont. The plaintiff sued the Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Corrections and the Superintendents of Southern State Correctional Facility and Northern State Correctional Facility under 42 U.S.C. §1983. The pro se plaintiff sought declaratory relief stating the defendants’ actions were unlawful and violated the plaintiff’s rights, along with an injunction stopping the conduct itself. The plaintiff claimed that the defendants violated the Eighth Amendment and inflicted cruel and unusual punishment by illuminating cells with bright lights twenty-four hours per day, thus preventing him and other inmates from sleeping.

In September 2005, many other inmates attempted to join the suit by filing motions to intervene. Plaintiff filed a Notice of Class Action on September 15, 2005. However, the court denied these motions and issued an order denying class certification because Plaintiff was pro se on September 26, 2005. After Plaintiff filed three motions for appointment of counsel, the court finally appointed counsel on December 1, 2005.

Over the next several months, more inmates filed motions to intervene, which were granted by the court. Plaintiff filed a new motion for class certification on July 11, 2006. On October 16, 2006, the court granted Plaintiff’s motion for class certification shortly after a report and recommendation from Magistrate Judge Jerome J. Niedermeier. 2006 WL 2975752. The class consisted of inmates: "who have been subjected, are currently being subjected, or who will be subjected to constant illumination in Vermont prison cells and who suffer injuries as a result."

Plaintiff filed a second amended complaint on April 16, 2007. After about two years of discovery, Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment on April 30, 2009. The court granted Defendant’s motion for summary judgment on December 20, 2010. 2010 WL 5389996.

Plaintiff filed a motion to appeal on January 4, 2011, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued an order denying that motion on March 30, 2011. 2011 WL 1211514. Plaintiffs filed another notice of appeal on April 11, 2011. The Court of Appeals then issued a mandate vacating the district court’s judgment and remanding the case for trial.

After further discovery, parties came to a settlement agreement that was approved by the court on July 12, 2017. The settlement required that the correction facilities keep the lights dim, make sleep masks available to inmates, and pay $50,000 in attorneys’ fees.

Katie Chan - 10/12/2017


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Conditions of confinement
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Vermont Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description Inmates who have been subjected, are currently being subjected, or who will be subjected to constant illumination in Vermont prison cells and who suffer injuries as a result.
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Filing Year 2004
Case Closing Year 2017
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  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
Book
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 ]

Docket(s)
5:04−cv−00335 (D. Vt.)
PC-VT-0005-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/14/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 6]
PC-VT-0005-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/09/2004
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Notice of Class Action Lawsuit [ECF# 83]
PC-VT-0005-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/19/2005
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 92] (D. Vt.)
PC-VT-0005-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/26/2005
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Motion for Class Certification [ECF# 181]
PC-VT-0005-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/07/2006
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation [ECF# 188-1]
PC-VT-0005-0011.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/25/2006
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Second Amended Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 195]
PC-VT-0005-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/16/2007
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 288] (2010 WL 5389996) (D. Vt.)
PC-VT-0005-0006.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 12/20/2010
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum and Order [ECF# 298] (2011 WL 1211514) (D. Vt.)
PC-VT-0005-0007.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 03/30/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Notice of Appeal [ECF# 303]
PC-VT-0005-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/05/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Summary Order [Ct. of App. ECF# 321]
PC-VT-0005-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/25/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting Final Approval of Proposed Settlement [ECF# 413] (D. Vt.)
PC-VT-0005-0010.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/12/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Crawford, Geoffrey William (D. Vt.)
PC-VT-0005-0010 | PC-VT-0005-9000
Murtha, John Garvan (D. Vt.)
PC-VT-0005-0006 | PC-VT-0005-0007
Niedermeier, Jerome J. (D. Vt.) [Magistrate]
PC-VT-0005-0003 | PC-VT-0005-0011
Plaintiff's Lawyers Franklin, Gary L. (Vermont)
PC-VT-0005-9000
Hoover, Timothy W. (New York)
PC-VT-0005-9000
Lipschutz, Seth E. (Vermont)
PC-VT-0005-0005 | PC-VT-0005-9000
Maguire, Daniel R. (New York)
PC-VT-0005-0010 | PC-VT-0005-9000
Manning, Kenneth A. (New York)
PC-VT-0005-0010 | PC-VT-0005-9000
Ritschdorff, Todd A. (New York)
PC-VT-0005-9000
Schlossberg, Todd D. (Vermont)
PC-VT-0005-9000
Seibert, Dawn M. (Vermont)
PC-VT-0005-0004 | PC-VT-0005-9000
Simon, William J. (New York)
PC-VT-0005-9000
Valerio, Matthew F. (Vermont)
PC-VT-0005-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Mclean, David R. (Vermont)
PC-VT-0005-0010 | PC-VT-0005-9000
Schwendler, April E. (Vermont)
PC-VT-0005-9000
Viens, Mathew L. (Vermont)
PC-VT-0005-9000

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