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Case Name Copeland v. Jones PC-FL-0024
Docket / Court 4:15-cv-00452 ( N.D. Fla. )
State/Territory Florida
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Special Collection Post-PLRA enforceable consent decrees
Case Summary
On September 16, 2015, the Florida Justice Institute filed this class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on behalf of 2,000 inmates in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida. The complaint alleged that the Florida Department of Corrections, and their medical services ... read more >
On September 16, 2015, the Florida Justice Institute filed this class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on behalf of 2,000 inmates in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida. The complaint alleged that the Florida Department of Corrections, and their medical services contractor Corizon LLC, had denied hernia surgeries to prisoners to save money, in violation of the Eighth Amendment. The plaintiffs sought both a preliminary and permanent injunction requiring the defendants to immediately provide hernia surgery to all FDOC prisoners recommended for surgery. For prisoners who have not seen a surgeon, the plaintiffs requested that they be seen by a surgeon. The plaintiffs also requested monetary damages and attorneys' fees and costs. The case was assigned to Judge Robert L. Hinkle.

On December 24, 2015, the plaintiffs moved to certify a class defined as “all current and future prisoners in the custody of the Florida Department of Corrections who have presented, or will present, with a symptomatic hernia to prison staff.” The plaintiffs also moved for certification of two subclasses. These were a surgery recommendation subclass, defined as “all class members who have received, or will in the future receive, a recommendation from a surgeon that they receive surgery” and a no consult subclass, consisting of “all class members who have not seen a surgeon, or will be denied a visit to a surgeon in the future, for a surgical consultation.”

On January 6, 2016, the plaintiffs moved for preliminary injunction, asking the court to order the defendants to perform those hernia surgeries for those prisoners who have already received a recommendation. The plaintiffs also sought an order requiring the defendants to send class members to an independent surgeon for a surgical consultation, and then to abide by the surgeon’s recommendation.

On May 2, 2016, the plaintiffs and the defendants participated in settlement mediation and reached a settlement. On September 19, 2016, the plaintiffs and defendants filed a joint motion asking the court to conditionally certify two classes and to preliminarily approve the class settlement.

On September 23, 2016, Judge Hinkle preliminarily approved the consent order and certified two classes. The injunctive class was defined as "[a]ll current and future prisoners in FDOC custody who, after September 16, 2011, have been diagnosed, or will be diagnosed, with a hernia by a qualified medical provider.” The damages class was defined as “ [a]ll past and current prisoners in FDOC custody who were diagnosed with and/or treated for a hernia between September 8, 2013 and May 31, 2016 at an FDOC facility while Corizon was the medical provider for that FDOC facility." As part of the agreement, the defendants agreed to pay about $2.1 million to settle this lawsuit: FDOC would pay $150,000 and Corizon would pay $1,950,000. The consent order also required FDOC to amend its health care policy on hernias to ensure that prisoners are referred to doctors for consultations and receive the recommended care. The FDOC will adopt a new Health Service Bulletin dealing with hernias, provide notice to medical staff and comply with the new policy.

On March 27, 2017, the plaintiffs moved for final approval of the class action settlement. In response, the court required that certain state and federal governmental officials be given notice and 100 days to file any objection prior to final approval in compliance with Class Action Fairness Act. After all objections had been fully considered, Judge Hinkle ruled that none provided the basis to disapprove or alter the agreement. The court granted final approval of the class action settlement on September 11, 2017. 2017 WL 8780863.

On November 16, 2017, the parties jointly moved to dismiss with prejudice the defendant Corizon. The court granted it and removed Corizon from the action. On December 19, 2017, a class member filed a notice of a breach of the agreement, claiming that the defendants were not providing inmates hernia exams. Judge Hinkle treated this notice as a motion for relief and denied it without prejudice on December 31, 2017.

On January 2, 2018, another class member filed a notice of their appeal of the order granting final approval to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. Later, the plaintiff voluntary dismissed his appeal. Since then, there have been some efforts to reopen the case by prisoners who were not included within the class definition, but the court has denied these. As of April 21, 2019, this case is ongoing for monitoring and enforcement purposes.

Susie Choi - 01/26/2017
Jake Parker - 07/10/2018
Chris Pollack - 04/21/2019


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Personal injury
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Florida Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description The injunctive class was defined as "[a]ll current and future prisoners in FDOC custody who, after September 16, 2011, have been diagnosed, or will be diagnosed, with a hernia by a qualified medical provider.” The damages class was defined as “ [a]ll past and current prisoners in FDOC custody who were diagnosed with and/or treated for a hernia between September 8, 2013 and May 31, 2016 at an FDOC facility while Corizon was the medical provider for that FDOC facility."
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2016 - 2019
Filing Year 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)
  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)
4:15−cv−00452−RH−CAS (N.D. Fla.)
PC-FL-0024-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/23/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint for Damages and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 1]
PC-FL-0024-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/16/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Consent Order [ECF# 78] (N.D. Fla.)
PC-FL-0024-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/23/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Finally Approving the Settlement [ECF# 217] (2017 WL 8780863) (N.D. Fla.)
PC-FL-0024-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 09/11/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Approving Claims, Overruling Mr. Parkhurst's Objections, and Denying Mr. DePriest's Motion for Reconsideration [ECF# 253] (2017 WL 8785569) (N.D. Fla.)
PC-FL-0024-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 12/04/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Hinkle, Robert Lewis (N.D. Fla.) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0024-0002 | PC-FL-0024-0003 | PC-FL-0024-0004 | PC-FL-0024-9000
Stampelos, Charles A (N.D. Fla.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
PC-FL-0024-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Berg, Randall Challen Jr. (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0024-0001 | PC-FL-0024-0002 | PC-FL-0024-9000
Hartmann, Kenneth Ralph (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0024-0002 | PC-FL-0024-9000
McNulty, Monica (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0024-0002
Selig, Erica (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0024-9000
Trevisani, Dante Pasquale (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0024-0001 | PC-FL-0024-0002 | PC-FL-0024-9000
Tucker Ronzetti, Thomas A. (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0024-0002
Wolfe, Douglas (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0024-0002 | PC-FL-0024-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Dunbar, Marc Wesley (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0024-0002 | PC-FL-0024-9000
Gwaltney, William Warren (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0024-9000
Lunsford, William R. (Alabama) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0024-0002 | PC-FL-0024-9000
Meros, George N Jr. (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0024-0002 | PC-FL-0024-9000
Moore, James Timothy Jr. (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0024-0002 | PC-FL-0024-9000
Reeves, Matthew (Alabama) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0024-0002 | PC-FL-0024-9000
Reid, Kirkland Edward (Alabama) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0024-0002 | PC-FL-0024-9000
Rogers, Stephen C. (Alabama) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0024-9000
Russell, Daniel Ryan (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0024-0002 | PC-FL-0024-9000
Tietig, Lisa Kuhlman (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0024-9000

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