University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Human Rights Defense Center v. County of Los Angeles JC-CA-0128
Docket / Court 2:17-cv-04883 ( C.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Special Collection Prison Legal News
Case Summary
On July 3, 2017, the Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC) filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. HRDC sued the County of Los Angeles and several agents of the Sheriff’s Department under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and state law. HRDC sought declaratory and ... read more >
On July 3, 2017, the Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC) filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. HRDC sued the County of Los Angeles and several agents of the Sheriff’s Department under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and state law. HRDC sought declaratory and injunctive relief as well as monetary relief and attorneys’ fees and costs. HRDC claimed that by prohibiting the delivery of the plaintiff’s magazines and enveloped mail to prisoners housed in the Los Angeles County Men’s Central Jail (MCJ), the defendants had violated the prisoners’ First and Fourteenth Amendment Rights. HRDC also alleged violations of comparable provisions in the California Constitution. The case was assigned to District Judge Manuel L. Real and Magistrate Judge Alka Sagar.

On July 17, 2017, HRDC moved for preliminary injunction. HRDC sought to enjoin Defendants from improperly censoring the items that HRDC mails to prisoners at the MCJ. They requested that the court require defendants to provide adequate written notice and an administrative appeal process to both prisoners and senders when defendants refuse to deliver publications or correspondence.

On August 25, 2017, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss. The defendants requested that the court dismiss the all claims against the individually named defendants and the state claim against all defendants including the County. The defendants argued that the allegations failed to demonstrate that any of them had any role in the conduct that formed the basis of the complaint. The defendants also argued that the complaint did not allege any threats, intimidation or coercion, a fundamental element of the state law claim.

On September 25, 2017, Judge Real denied the motion for preliminary injunction. The court found that there was not a significant likelihood that the plaintiff’s claim would succeed on the merit, noting that the plaintiff had not shown that the defendants enacted any specific regulation causing rejection of the plaintiff’s written content. The court also pointed to a lack of irreparable harm if it denied the motion. The plaintiffs had not clearly stated how injunctive relief would be successful or referenced a specific policy implemented by the defendants or proposed alternative policy.

The plaintiffs appealed Judge Real’s decision to deny preliminary injunctive relief on September 27, 2017 to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

On November 14, 2017, the court granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss the state law claim and the claims against the individual defendants. The court found that the individual claims were based on “conclusory allegations and generalities, without any allegation of the specific wrong-doing by each Defendant.” Judge Real found that the claim failed to plausibly allege that defendants threatened, intimidated, or coerced the plaintiff.

On April 12, 2018, the defendants filed a motion to stay pending review of a settlement agreement. On April 17, 2018, Judge Real ordered a dismissal of the case because the parties had settled. On May 1, 2018, the Ninth Circuit dismissed the appeal without prejudice. The matter was referred to Magistrate Judge Alka Sagar for enforcement of the settlement, the terms of which are not available on the docket or on HRDC's website. As of May, 2020, there have been no additional entries in the docket since September 2018, so we presume parties have complied with the terms of the settlement. Depending on the terms of the settlement, the case may be ongoing for enforcement purposes.

Jake Parker - 05/29/2018
Alex Moody - 05/27/2020

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Freedom of speech/association
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Type of Facility
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
State law
Defendant(s) County of Los Angeles
Plaintiff Description Human Rights Defense Center is a non-profit organization that campaigns on behalf of prisoner rights across the United States.
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Unknown
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Filed 07/03/2017
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  See this case at (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Prison Legal News Homepage
Prison Legal News
By: Prison Legal News
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

2:17-cv-8805 (C.D. Cal.)
JC-CA-0128-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/01/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief and Damages Under the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, California Civil Code § 52.1, and the California Constitution [ECF# 1]
JC-CA-0128-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/03/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Denying Plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 50] (C.D. Cal.)
JC-CA-0128-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/25/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting Defendants' Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 57] (C.D. Cal.)
JC-CA-0128-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/14/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Real, Manuel Lawrence (C.D. Cal.) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0128-0002 | JC-CA-0128-0003 | JC-CA-0128-9000
Sagar, Alka Court not on record [Magistrate] show/hide docs
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bornstein, Jeffrey L (California) show/hide docs
JC-CA-0128-0001 | JC-CA-0128-9000
Hu, Christopher David (California) show/hide docs
Marshall, Daniel (Florida) show/hide docs
Mutamba, Masimba (Florida) show/hide docs
Neelakanta, Sabarish (Florida) show/hide docs
Rosen, Sanford Jay (California) show/hide docs
Vogel, Brian A. (California) show/hide docs
Defendant's Lawyers Alter, Valerie Elizabeth (California) show/hide docs
Raygor, Kent R. (California) show/hide docs
Schiedermayer, Ryan David (California) show/hide docs

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