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Case Name Seitz v. Allegheny County JC-PA-0035
Docket / Court 2:16-cv-01879-CRE ( W.D. Pa. )
State/Territory Pennsylvania
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Special Collection Solitary confinement
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
Case Summary
On December 19, 2016, five pregnant women in Allegheny County Jail (ACJ) brought this suit against Allegheny County and jail officers in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. Suing under § 1983, they alleged violations of their Eighth Amendment rights to be free from ... read more >
On December 19, 2016, five pregnant women in Allegheny County Jail (ACJ) brought this suit against Allegheny County and jail officers in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. Suing under § 1983, they alleged violations of their Eighth Amendment rights to be free from cruel and unusual punishment and their Fourteenth Amendment right to notice and opportunity to be heard via the Due Process Clause. These plaintiffs alleged that they were subject to solitary confinement for up to 24 hours per day for minor rule infractions. For example, one plaintiff was subjected to solitary confinement because she had three pairs of shoes when she was only allowed two. While in solitary confinement, the plaintiffs alleged that they were not given an opportunity to shower or exercise, and that they were not allowed any recreational materials such as books, papers, pens, or magazines. Finally, the amount of time spent in solitary confinement ranged from six to twenty-two days. The plaintiffs also alleged that they were not receiving the proper pre-natal nutrition. The plaintiffs stated that because of the lack of nutrition, they were forced to supplement meals with food purchased from the commissary and, moreover, feared for the health of their fetuses. the plaintiffs explained that this was especially problematic for those inmates. This concern was especially problematic for pregnant women placed in solitary confinement. Represented by the ACLU of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project, the Abolitionist Law Center, and private counsel, the plaintiffs requested declaratory and injunctive relief, equitable damages, and attorneys' fees and costs.

On February 14, 2017 the plaintiffs sought class certification on behalf of all women at ACJ now, and in the future, who were pregnant or post partum. The suit was referred to a magistrate for mediation on May 15, 2017. That mediation was scheduled for July 7, 2017.

On November 8, 2017 the parties reached a settlement. The agreement stipulated that for three years, Allegheny County jail would provide plaintiffs' counsel with a list of pregnant women detained or incarcerated upon plaintiffs' counsel's request. Additionally, the Allegheny County jail would provide plaintiffs' counsel with quarterly discovery: copies of documents related to the placement of any pregnant women in restrictive housing, and the total number of misconducts and informal resolutions issued to pregnant women resulting in loss of privileges.

Additionally, the agreement stipulated that Allegheny County jail would adopt a new policy that would require the jail to provide counseling, health assessments, and adequate nutrition and supplements to pregnant women, women post partum, and lactating women in the jail. The new policy required that pregnant women be seen by a qualified healthcare professional at least once per month, and that medical care will be provided regardless of the woman's disciplinary status. The new policy also required that women who qualify receive the pregnant/nursing diet regardless of where they are housed in the jail. The new policy further required that pregnant women receive the opportunity to exercise for at least two hours per day and that women be given access to showers and hygiene supplies.

The case was voluntarily dismissed as a result of the settlement agreement on November 15, 2017. The court retains jurisdiction to enforce the settlement until November 2020.

Cianan Lesley - 11/17/2017


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process
Content of Injunction
Implement complaint/dispute resolution process
Required disclosure
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Bathing and hygiene
Conditions of confinement
Disciplinary procedures
Food service / nutrition / hydration
Grievance Procedures
Recreation / Exercise
Solitary confinement/Supermax (conditions or process)
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) Allegheny County
Plaintiff Description Five pregnant women at Allegheny County Jail who were subject to solitary confinement conditions and allegedly poor nutrition.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Moot
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 2017 - 2020
Filing Year 2016
Case Ongoing Yes
Docket(s)
2:16−cv−01879−CRE (W.D. Pa.)
JC-PA-0035-9001.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/15/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint [ECF# 1]
JC-PA-0035-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/19/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Stipulated Order of Dismissal & Settlement Agreement Between Plaintiffs and Allegheny County [ECF# 43]
JC-PA-0035-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/09/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Stipulated Order of Dismissal [ECF# 46] (W.D. Pa.)
JC-PA-0035-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/15/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Eddy, Cynthia Reed Court not on record [Magistrate] show/hide docs
JC-PA-0035-0002 | JC-PA-0035-0002 | JC-PA-0035-9001
Plaintiff's Lawyers Fawcett, David B. (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
JC-PA-0035-0001 | JC-PA-0035-9001
Grote, Bret D. (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
JC-PA-0035-0001 | JC-PA-0035-0002 | JC-PA-0035-0002 | JC-PA-0035-0003 | JC-PA-0035-9001
Morgan-Kurtz, Alexandra T. (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
JC-PA-0035-0001 | JC-PA-0035-9001
Rose, Sara (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
JC-PA-0035-0001 | JC-PA-0035-9001
Walczak, Witold J. (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
JC-PA-0035-0001 | JC-PA-0035-9001
Williams, Aleksandra V (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
JC-PA-0035-0001 | JC-PA-0035-9001
Defendant's Lawyers Bacharach, John A. (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
JC-PA-0035-0002 | JC-PA-0035-0002 | JC-PA-0035-0003 | JC-PA-0035-9001

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