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Case Name V.W. v. Conway JI-NY-0010
Docket / Court 9:16-cv-01150-DNH-DEP ( N.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Juvenile Institution
Special Collection DOJ Civil Rights Division Statements of Interest
Post-WalMart decisions on class certification
Attorney Organization Legal Services/Legal Aid
Case Summary
On September 21, 2016, six named plaintiffs filed this class action lawsuit against Onondaga County in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York. Represented by the New York Civil Liberties Union Foundation and Legal Services of Central New York, the plaintiffs challenged the ... read more >
On September 21, 2016, six named plaintiffs filed this class action lawsuit against Onondaga County in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York. Represented by the New York Civil Liberties Union Foundation and Legal Services of Central New York, the plaintiffs challenged the isolation of juveniles in solitary confinement at the County Justice Center. This practice, they alleged, violated the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution. In addition to exposing them to serious harm, plaintiffs subclass members claimed the Onondaga Sherriff’s Office and Syracuse City School District denied them basic education and services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The plaintiffs sought declaratory, injunctive, and monetary relief, as well as class action certification.

On January 2, 2017, the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice filed a statement of interest regarding the plaintiff’s motion for preliminary injunction. Citing both scientific findings and case law, the DOJ emphasized the greater psychological vulnerability of juveniles compared to adults. Specifically, the DOJ pointed to evidence that isolating juveniles causes serious harm.

This case was assigned to U.S. District Judge David N. Hurd. On February 22, 2017, Judge Hurd held the plaintiffs had complied with Rule 23’s requirements for class certification and demonstrated a substantial likelihood of success on the merits of their claims. Judge Hurd therefore, granted the plaintiffs’ motion for class certification and denied the defendants’ motion for summary judgment. The certified class was composed of 16- and 17-year-olds being detained at the Onondaga County Justice Center. He also ordered that defendants be immediately enjoined and restrained from imposing 23-hour disciplinary isolation. Judge Hurd further granted the plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary injunction and ordered that defendants immediately provide juveniles the proper education mandated under New York law, and specifically comply with the special education requirements under the IDEA. Finally, he ordered that all imposed discipline include meaningful social interaction with other and not directly harm a juvenile’s psychological condition.

On April 10, 2017, Judge Hurd approved the parties’ joint stipulation and order for an interim settlement agreement. On August 28, 2017, he approved the final settlement agreement. The settlement agreement prohibited any juvenile from being locked in solitary confinement unless the juvenile posed an imminent threat to the safety and security of the facility, and placed time limitations on how long the juvenile could be kept in solitary confinement. The settlement also prescribed procedures for staff to take to minimize and periodically reassess the circumstances requiring solitary confinement. Furthermore, the defendants were required to implement a comprehensive behavior management system and apply a least-restrictive sanctions system. Defendants were also required to provide certain education opportunities to the juveniles, especially those with a disability. Lastly, the settlement included reporting and monitoring procedures to ensure that the defendants adhered to the settlement conditions. The parties were to engage in good-faith negotiations over reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs for plaintiffs’ counsel after court approval of the settlement agreement.

On December 13, 2017, the case was closed after the parties did not receive any class-member objections to the settlement agreement.

Amanda Grill - 01/22/2017
Lisa Limb - 03/22/2019


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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
Monitoring
Reporting
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Law-enforcement
Disability
disability, unspecified
General
Confinement/isolation
Disciplinary procedures
Disciplinary segregation
Juveniles
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Indv. w/ Disab. Educ. Act (IDEA), Educ. of All Handcpd. Children Act , 20 U.S.C. § 1400
Defendant(s) Onondaga County
Plaintiff Description Detainees at the Onondaga County, currently or previously held in disciplinary isolation.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Legal Services/Legal Aid
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2017 - 2019
Filing Year 2016
Case Ongoing Yes
Case Listing JI-NY-0011 : A.T. v. Harder (N.D.N.Y.)
Additional Resources
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Docket(s)
9:16−cv−01150−DNH−DEP (N.D.N.Y.)
JI-NY-0010-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/28/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint [ECF# 1]
JI-NY-0010-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/21/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Memorandum of Law in Support of Motion for Class Certification [ECF# 5-1]
JI-NY-0010-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/23/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Statement of Interest of the United States
JI-NY-0010-0002.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 01/03/2017
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Memorandum-Decision and Order [ECF# 68] (2017 WL 696808) (N.D.N.Y.)
JI-NY-0010-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 02/22/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Stipulation and Order for a Final Settlement Agreement [ECF# 97] (N.D.N.Y.)
JI-NY-0010-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/28/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Hurd, David N. (N.D.N.Y.) show/hide docs
JI-NY-0010-0004 | JI-NY-0010-0005 | JI-NY-0010-9000
Peebles, David E. (N.D.N.Y.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
JI-NY-0010-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Cotter, Joshua T. (New York) show/hide docs
JI-NY-0010-0001 | JI-NY-0010-0003 | JI-NY-0010-0005 | JI-NY-0010-9000
Desgranges, Philip L. (New York) show/hide docs
JI-NY-0010-0001 | JI-NY-0010-0003 | JI-NY-0010-0005 | JI-NY-0010-9000
Dunn, Christopher (New York) show/hide docs
JI-NY-0010-0001 | JI-NY-0010-9000
Hirose, Mariko (New York) show/hide docs
JI-NY-0010-0001 | JI-NY-0010-0003 | JI-NY-0010-9000
Kovel, Mariana Louise (New York) show/hide docs
JI-NY-0010-0001 | JI-NY-0010-0003 | JI-NY-0010-9000
Padmanabhan, Aadhithi (New York) show/hide docs
JI-NY-0010-0003 | JI-NY-0010-9000
Stewart, Aimee Krause (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
JI-NY-0010-0001 | JI-NY-0010-0003 | JI-NY-0010-0005 | JI-NY-0010-9000
Young, Susan M. (New York) show/hide docs
JI-NY-0010-0001 | JI-NY-0010-0003 | JI-NY-0010-9000
Young, Samuel C (New York) show/hide docs
JI-NY-0010-0001 | JI-NY-0010-0003 | JI-NY-0010-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Dougherty, Kathleen M. (New York) show/hide docs
JI-NY-0010-9000
Fellows, Jonathan B. (New York) show/hide docs
JI-NY-0010-0005 | JI-NY-0010-9000
Reid, Kate I. (New York) show/hide docs
JI-NY-0010-9000
Rhinehart, Carol L. (New York) show/hide docs
JI-NY-0010-0005 | JI-NY-0010-9000
Other Lawyers Smiddie, Kyle (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
JI-NY-0010-0002

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