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Case Name Miller v. King PC-GA-0018
Docket / Court 6:98-cv-00109 ( S.D. Ga. )
State/Territory Georgia
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Prison Conditions
Case Summary
The case began on August 4, 1998, when a state prisoner filed the complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia. The plaintiff was paraplegic and used a wheelchair; he was incarcerated at the Georgia State Prison (GSP) in Reidsville, Georgia. The defendants were the ... read more >
The case began on August 4, 1998, when a state prisoner filed the complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia. The plaintiff was paraplegic and used a wheelchair; he was incarcerated at the Georgia State Prison (GSP) in Reidsville, Georgia. The defendants were the State of Georgia and various officials, entities, and subdivisions of the Georgia Department of Corrections (GDOC), including the GSP and Augusta State Medical Prison (ASMP), the Hearing Officer for the Office of Inmate Discipline at GSP, and the Commissioner of the GDOC.

The complaint alleged that the defendants violated Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12131-12134; Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Rehabilitation Act or RA), 29 U.S.C. § 794; the Eighth Amendment (suing under 42 U.S.C. § 1983); and Fourteenth Amendment rights to equal protection of the law by not accommodating the plaintiff's needs as a handicapped individual and discriminating him because of his disability. He had been housed in disciplinary isolation in the K-Building, which was designated a high maximum security section of the prison. He alleged that he had been denied the opportunity to bathe or shower and to have yard call, church privileges, cold food, wheelchair accessible space (especially because K-Building cells were smaller than regular prison building cells), medical care and treatment, law library access, and legal materials. The plaintiff was pro se when he filed the complaint, but was later was represented by private counsel. He sought declaratory and injunctive relief, and monetary damages. The case was first assigned to Judge B. Avant Edenfield, then later reassigned to Magistrate Judge James E. Graham.

The history of this case spans 15 years, from its filing in 1998 to settlement in 2010 and appeal attempts in 2013. The case involves many defendants, several of whom throughout 15 years were terminated (in their official and/or individual capacities) from the case at different points in the timeline. It also involved multiple appeals, which led to certain claims against some of the defendants to be reversed and remanded by the Court of Appeals to be redetermined by the district court. In addition, it is worth noting that toward the end of the case in 2010, the United States participated as Amicus Curiae in support of the plaintiff. Miller v. King, 2004 WL 2290751 (11th Cir.) (supplemental brief for the U.S. as intervenor). See generally Miller v. King, 384 F.3d 1248 C.A.11 (Ga.) 2004) (explaining the background of the lawsuit).

During the course of the case's history, the plaintiff tried multiple times to get the court to prohibit what he alleged were discriminatory acts by the Defendants. Initially, the plaintiff filed a motion for Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) and preliminary injunction in September 1998. Judge Edenfield denied this motion on December 16, 1998.

The plaintiff's efforts continued into January 1999, when the plaintiff tried again to enjoin the defendants by moving for a protective order and, again, a preliminary injunction. Magistrate Judge James E. Graham suggested in his March 1999 Report & Recommendation (R&R) that Judge Edenfield deny both motions. On April 9, 1999, Judge Edenfield adopted the R&R and denied both of the plaintiff's motions. Miller v. King, 384 F.3d 1248, 1257 (C.A.11 (Ga.) 2004) (summarizing the details of the Report and Recommendations and its adoption by Judge Edenfield). The plaintiff appealed this denial on April 20, 1999, but on January 11, 2000, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit (USCA) dismissed the appeal on the basis that it was frivolous.

Meanwhile, the defendants sought to dismiss the case: on August 4, 1999, they filed a motion for summary judgment. In January 2000, Magistrate Judge Graham recommended in his R&R that Judge Edenfield grant the motion for summary judgment on the claim of deliberate indifference against the former Warden of GSP and the claim of due process violations against the former Commissioner of the GDOC. On February 25, 2000, over the plaintiff's objections, Judge Edenfield adopted the Magistrate Judge's recommendations for the above two issues. However, he denied summary judgment for the State of Georgia, GDOC, and the Hearing Officer for the Office of Inmate Discipline at GSP. He did not explain the reasoning behind his decision. Miller v. King, 384 F.3d 1248, 1258 (C.A.11 (Ga.) 2004).

In July 2000, the Plaintiff filed a third motion for preliminary injunction and a second motion for protective order, but Judge Edenfield denied them the next month. The plaintiff appealed, but USCA denied the appeal. In November 2001, the case was reassigned to Magistrate Judge James E. Graham. The parties also commenced the discovery process around this time.

The discovery process and the case were moving along on schedule when the defendants attempted again to get the case dismissed by filing in December 2001 a supplemental motion for summary judgment. They asserted that:
- the State of Georgia and the Georgia Department of Corrections are immune from suit; and
- an individual employed by the Department of Corrections is not subject to liability under the ADA.

While the defendants' motion was pending, the plaintiff in January 2002 filed numerous motions: TRO, Preliminary Injunction (fourth time), protective order, subpoenas, a writ of habeas corpus, and a motion to compel the defendant to produce discovery for the plaintiff.

Magistrate Judge Graham resolved these motions throughout January and February 2002, mostly against the plaintiff. Judge Graham granted the defendants' December 2001 motion for summary judgment for certain defendants but only for some of the claims. He granted summary judgment for:
- the State of Georgia and the Georgia Department of Corrections on the claim that they violated the plaintiff's rights under Americans with Disabilities Act; and
- the Former Warden of GSP on the claim that he violated the plaintiff's rights under ADA (the only remaining claims against this defendant were retaliation and due process violations in prison disciplinary hearings).
While Judge Graham did not explain his reasons for denying all of the plaintiff's motions, he did note with respect to some motions that the allegations were irrelevant to the case.

A jury trial took place in February 2002, which yielded a verdict for the defendants on the 14th. The plaintiff filed a motion for judgment as a matter of law or for new trial, but Judge Graham denied his motion on June 6, 2002 because the plaintiff failed to show evidence that jury's finding was against the weight of evidence. The plaintiff appealed immediately.

On September 14, 2004, the Court of Appeals (Judges Frank M. Hull, James C. Hill, and Edward E. Carnes) generally affirmed the district court's grants of summary judgment in favor of the defendants (specifically, the ADA claims for monetary damages as to all defendants and as to all other claims against all defendants). However, it found that fact issues precluded summary judgment for a single defendant--the Warden of GSP. The USCA explained that the Eleventh Amendment does not prohibit a plaintiff from suing state officials in their official capacities for injunctive relief. Moreover, a plaintiff may sue an official in his/her individual capacity for monetary damages. Thus, USCA found that the Warden was a suable defendant for both monetary and injunctive relief. Miller v. King, 384 F.3d 1248, 1253–54, 1260 (C.A.11 (Ga.) 2004).

However, this decision was short-lived. After the Supreme Court decided United States v. Georgia, 546 U.S. 151, the Eleventh Circuit vacated in full its prior opinion from September 2004. In its new decision, the USCA affirmed the dismissal of all claims against all Defendants except for 1) the plaintiff's Eighth Amendment and ADA claims against the Warden; and 2) ADA claims against the State of Georgia and the Georgia Department of Corrections. For these two claims, the USCA concluded that the case should be remanded to the district court for the plaintiff to amend his complaint so that a claim-by-claim analysis could be undertaken. Miller v. King, 449 F.3d 1149, 1151 (C.A.11 (Ga.) 2006).

Soon after USCA's decision, on November 20, 2006, the plaintiff filed an amended complaint, in which he added many new individual defendants affiliated with the Georgia prison system. He also resubmitted a number of motions: for a preliminary injunction (fifth time) in December 2006 and (sixth time) in January 2007, and a protective order. However, Judge Graham dismissed all these motions on January 9, 2007.

After the plaintiff filed his amended complaint, the defendants persisted over the next few years to try to dismiss the case. Over time and little by little, Judge Graham dismissed many of the claims against the defendants. First, in February 2007, the Defendants submitted a pre-answer motion to dismiss. On July 24, 2007, Judge Graham granted the dismissal of:
- ADA or RA claims against the defendants in their individual capacities; and
- 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claims for damages against state defendants or individual defendants in their official capacities
He denied the motion in all other respects, most importantly the defendants' argument that the plaintiff's claims were barred by claim preclusion. The injunctive relief claims remained pending.

The case temporarily paused between summer 2007 and March 2008 because the parties and Judge Graham agreed to stay the case pending a comprehensive medical exam on the Plaintiff. Judge Graham lifted the stay on May 3, 2008.

The defendants' next attempt to dismiss the case occurred when the defendants tried again to argue that the Plaintiff's remaining arguments were moot because of claim preclusion. After the defendants filed a motion for partial summary judgment on this ground (that the plaintiff's § 1983, RA, and ADA claims were barred because he had already made them and lost), on September 21, 2009, Judge Graham ruled in favor of the defendants. He decided to dismiss many of the plaintiff's surviving claims, which included a denial of access to the courts claim. However, Judge Graham denied for the second time the defendants' claim preclusion argument. (The defendants later filed a motion for reconsideration of this order, but Judge Graham again denied the claim preclusion claim--see Miller v. King, 2009 WL 3805568 (S.D.Ga. Nov. 10, 2009).)

From this point forward, Judge Graham started to not only dismiss more of the Plaintiff's claims, but also Defendants from the lawsuit. In January 2010, per the parties' stipulation, Judge Graham dismissed ASMP and GSP as Defendants (because they were part of GDOC) while the claims against GDOC remained pending.

On July 6, 2010, Judge Graham dismissed all remaining claims against individual defendants. Furthermore, during that same month, Judge Graham ordered the termination of the following defendants as parties: the former Commissioner of the GDOC; the former Warden at GSP; and the State of Georgia. A few claims against a small set of Defendants remained pending:
- The claims brought under the ADA and Rehabilitation Act for damages against the GDOC; and
- All claims for injunctive relief against the GDOC and the remaining individual defendants (including the Warden of ASMP).

Despite the many dismissals, the plaintiff was able to negotiate a settlement of the remaining claims. On September 14, 2010, Judge Graham ordered that the case be administratively closed. He gave the parties 60 days to file a dismissal of judgment, and if the parties did not request that, the court was planning to dismiss the case with prejudice. The remaining defendants filed a motion to dismiss with prejudice on October 15, 2010. A proposed Settlement Agreement, included with the motion, stated the following important provisions. It included both monetary and injunctive relief. The Agreement were to be in effect until the plaintiff leaves the facility. The defendants agreed to:
- make a $50,000 payment to the plaintiff;
- make a $90,000 payment to the plaintiff's attorneys;
- improve the accessibility of the prison facilities to conform with the ADA;
- ensure that the plaintiff has the appropriate devices that would allow him to take showers and maintain hygiene;
- assist him with daily activities; and
- maintain a written medical Treatment Plan for the plaintiff.
In exchange, the plaintiff was to release the defendants from all pending claims in this suit.

Judge Graham approved the Settlement Agreement on November 1, 2010 and dismissed the case with prejudice.

However, the plaintiff attempted three times to reopen the case and set aside the judgment between June 2011 and June 2013. Judge Graham denied the request each time, in part because the plaintiff's motions were largely unrelated to the issues in this case. In March 2013, the plaintiff tried to appeal the district court's decision, but the USCA dismissed the request. The plaintiff has not attempted to reopen the case or take other action to enforce the settlement agreement since 2013.

Lisa Koo - 06/09/2019


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Male
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process
Equal Protection
Content of Injunction
Discrimination Prohibition
Monitoring
Preliminary relief denied
Recordkeeping
Defendant-type
Corrections
Disability
Mobility impairment
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Bathing and hygiene
Conditions of confinement
Disciplinary segregation
Food service / nutrition / hydration
Law library access
Recreation / Exercise
Rehabilitation
Sanitation / living conditions
Solitary confinement/Supermax (conditions or process)
Totality of conditions
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Medication, administration of
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) Georgia
Georgia Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description A wheelchair-bound inmate confined at Georgia State Prison in Reidsville, Georgia.
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Order Duration 2010 - n/a
Filing Year 1998
Case Ongoing Perhaps, but long-dormant
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)
6:98-cv-00109 (S.D. Ga.)
PC-GA-0018-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/18/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 2]
PC-GA-0018-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/04/1998
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion (384 F.3d 1248)
PC-GA-0018-0007.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 09/14/2004
Source: Westlaw
Opinion (449 F.3d 1149)
PC-GA-0018-0008.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 05/17/2006
Source: Westlaw
Amended Complaint [ECF# 198]
PC-GA-0018-0011.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/20/2006
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order (2007 WL 2164534) (S.D. Ga.)
PC-GA-0018-0010.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 07/24/2007
Source: Westlaw
Order [ECF# 335] (S.D. Ga.)
PC-GA-0018-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/21/2009
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order (2009 WL 3805568) (S.D. Ga.)
PC-GA-0018-0009.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 10/10/2009
Source: Westlaw
United States' Memorandum of Law as Amicus Curiae on Issues Under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Rehabilitation Act that are Likely to Arise on Summary Judgment or at Trial
PC-GA-0018-0002.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 06/21/2010
Source: U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, Disability Rights Section
Motion for Entry of Dismissal with Prejudice and Brief in Support [ECF# 539]
PC-GA-0018-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/15/2010
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Settlement Agreement [ECF# 539-1]
PC-GA-0018-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/15/2010
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 544] (S.D. Ga.)
PC-GA-0018-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/02/2010
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Graham, James E. (S.D. Ga.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
PC-GA-0018-0003 | PC-GA-0018-0006 | PC-GA-0018-0009 | PC-GA-0018-0010 | PC-GA-0018-9000
Hull, Frank M. (N.D. Ga., Eleventh Circuit) show/hide docs
PC-GA-0018-0007 | PC-GA-0018-0008
Plaintiff's Lawyers Ashe, Robert L. III (Georgia) show/hide docs
PC-GA-0018-0005 | PC-GA-0018-9000
Bramlett, Jeffrey O. (Georgia) show/hide docs
PC-GA-0018-0005 | PC-GA-0018-0011 | PC-GA-0018-9000
Rains, John H IV (Georgia) show/hide docs
PC-GA-0018-0005 | PC-GA-0018-9000
Shalf, Sarah M. (Georgia) show/hide docs
PC-GA-0018-0005 | PC-GA-0018-0006 | PC-GA-0018-0011 | PC-GA-0018-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Curry, Stephen E. (Georgia) show/hide docs
PC-GA-0018-9000
Hirsch, Michelle J. (Georgia) show/hide docs
PC-GA-0018-0004 | PC-GA-0018-0005 | PC-GA-0018-9000
Mason, Aaron Bradford (Georgia) show/hide docs
PC-GA-0018-9000
Orland, Devon (Georgia) show/hide docs
PC-GA-0018-9000
Teaster, Susan Elizabeth (Georgia) show/hide docs
PC-GA-0018-0004 | PC-GA-0018-0005 | PC-GA-0018-9000
Weber, David V (Georgia) show/hide docs
PC-GA-0018-9000
Williams, Pattie J (Georgia) show/hide docs
PC-GA-0018-9000
Other Lawyers Bagenstos, Samuel R. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-GA-0018-0002
Harrington, Sarah E. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-GA-0018-9000
Holder, Eric H. Jr. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-GA-0018-0002
Kennebrew, Delora L. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-GA-0018-0002 | PC-GA-0018-9000
Lynch, William Francis (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-GA-0018-9000
Perez, Thomas E. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-GA-0018-0002
Phillips, Dirk Christian (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-GA-0018-9000
Samberg-Champion, Sasha M. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-GA-0018-9000
Tarver, Edward J. (Georgia) show/hide docs
PC-GA-0018-0002

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