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Case Name Topete v. County of San Bernardino JC-CA-0125
Docket / Court 5:16-cv-00355 ( C.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Attorney Organization Prison Law Office
Case Summary
On February 29th, 2016, a convicted prisoner filed this class-action lawsuit against San Bernardino County in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The lawsuit was filed under 42 U.S.C.§1983, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Rehabilitation Act ... read more >
On February 29th, 2016, a convicted prisoner filed this class-action lawsuit against San Bernardino County in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The lawsuit was filed under 42 U.S.C.§1983, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Rehabilitation Act. Represented by the Prison Law Office and private counsel, the plaintiffs alleged that the county violated the Fourteenth Amendment and Eighth Amendment rights of the nearly 6,000 people incarcerated in its jails. Specifically, the plaintiffs alleged that the jail’s medical, mental health, and dental care was unconstitutionally deficient; that jail staff used excessive force against people and failed to take the basic steps to prevent violence; and that jail staff discriminated against people with disabilities by locking them in housing units inaccessible to toilets or in tiny cells for 22 hours a day.

Plaintiffs sought a declaration that San Bernardino County’s ongoing practices violated their constitutional and statutory rights, and sought injunctive relief compelling the county to address the issues alleged by providing adequate health care, protecting people from violence, providing equal access to programs, services, and activities, and ceasing the use of excessive force.

On September 30, 2016, the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint. On November 18, 2016, the plaintiffs filed a second amended complaint.

On January 27, 2017, Judge Virginia A. Phillips granted the parties’ joint motion to certify two classes of plaintiffs composed of (1) all people who are currently, and in the future, who will be incarcerated in the San Bernardino County jails, and of (2) all people who are currently, or in the future will be, incarcerated in the San Bernardino County jails and who have a psychiatric and/or intellectual disability as defined by the ADA.

Having reached a settlement agreement, the parties filed a joint motion for preliminary approval of a proposed consent decree on March 28, 2018, that would, if approved by the court, settle all claims for injunctive relief in this suit. The settlement agreement named the plaintiffs as the prevailing party and required the defendant to adopt what the parties called the remedial plan. The remedial plan was designed to meet the minimum level of health care necessary to fulfill the defendant’s obligations under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, to ensure that unlawful force is not utilized in the jails, to avoid the unlawful use of segregated or restrictive housing in the jails, and to ensure compliance with the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. The plan required that the defendants develop and implement appropriate and adequate plans, policies, and practices to ensure compliance with the agreement; report on the use of these policies; provide notice to class members; and adopt a more effective dispute resolution process. The defendant also was required to pay the plaintiffs $350,000 in attorneys’ fees. The duration of the settlement was four years and the court would retain jurisdiction over the matter.

As of June 22, 2018, the court has not yet adopted the proposed consent decree. The case is ongoing.

Sihang Zhang - 10/16/2016
Lisa Limb - 03/23/2018
Jake Parker - 06/22/2018


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Equal Protection
Content of Injunction
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Discrimination Prohibition
Implement complaint/dispute resolution process
Monitor/Master
Monitoring
Recordkeeping
Reporting
Required disclosure
Training
Defendant-type
Corrections
Disability
Mental impairment
Mobility impairment
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Assault/abuse by staff
Conditions of confinement
Disciplinary segregation
Excessive force
Rehabilitation
Solitary confinement/Supermax (conditions or process)
Medical/Mental Health
Dental care
Medical care, general
Mental health care, general
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) County of San Bernardino
Plaintiff Description (1) all people who are currently, and in the future, who will be incarcerated in the San Bernardino County jails, and of (2) all people who are currently, or in the future will be, incarcerated in the San Bernardino County jails and who have a psychiatric and/or intellectual disability as defined by the ADA.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Prison Law Office
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Declaratory Judgment
Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2018 - 2022
Filing Year 2016
Case Closing Year 2022
Case Ongoing Yes
Docket(s)
5:16-cv-00355 (C.D. Cal.)
JC-CA-0125-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/09/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action First Amended Class Action Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief [ECF# 29]
JC-CA-0125-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/30/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Second Amended Class Action Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief [ECF# 41]
JC-CA-0125-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/18/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting Joint Motion to Certify Class [ECF# 50] (C.D. Cal.)
JC-CA-0125-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/27/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
For Immediate Release: Settlement Reached in San Bernardino Jail Class Action
JC-CA-0125-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/28/2018
Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
[Proposed] Consent Decree
JC-CA-0125-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/29/2018
Judges Bristow, David T. (C.D. Cal.) [Magistrate]
JC-CA-0125-9000
Phillips, Virginia A. (C.D. Cal.)
JC-CA-0125-0004 | JC-CA-0125-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Knapp, Kelly Jean (California)
JC-CA-0125-9000
Mendelson, Margot Knight (California)
JC-CA-0125-0002 | JC-CA-0125-0003 | JC-CA-0125-0006 | JC-CA-0125-9000
Specter, Donald H. (California)
JC-CA-0125-0002 | JC-CA-0125-0003 | JC-CA-0125-0006 | JC-CA-0125-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Dodd, Martin H. (California)
JC-CA-0125-0006 | JC-CA-0125-9000
Dupree, Jamie L (California)
JC-CA-0125-9000
Kowalski, Miles (California)
JC-CA-0125-9000
Touchstone, Jaime Godin (California)
JC-CA-0125-9000

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