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Case Name Gumm v. Jacobs PC-GA-0020
Docket / Court 5:15-cv-00041-MTT-CHW ( M.D. Ga. )
State/Territory Georgia
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Special Collection Solitary confinement
Attorney Organization Southern Center for Human Rights (SCHR)
Case Summary
On February 12, 2015, a prisoner in the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison (GDCP) filed this lawsuit, pro se, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Georgia. The plaintiff sued Georgia prison officials under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, claiming that by holding him in ... read more >
On February 12, 2015, a prisoner in the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison (GDCP) filed this lawsuit, pro se, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Georgia. The plaintiff sued Georgia prison officials under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, claiming that by holding him in solitary confinement for five years in poor conditions they had violated his Fourteenth Amendment rights to procedural and substantive due process as well as state regulations. He sought injunctive relief enjoining the state from keeping him solitary confinement, declaratory relief, damages for physical, mental, and emotional consequences stemming from his confinement, and court fees.

The plaintiff’s problems at GDCP began in 2010 when, while incarcerated, he was charged with attempting to escape and destruction of state property. Investigating officers recommended that the charges be dropped, but the plaintiff was nonetheless brought to disciplinary court and was found guilty of both charges. On administrative appeal, the convictions were expunged from the plaintiff's record. For the next five years, however, he was kept in a Special Management Unit (SMU, solitary confinement) and segregated from the general prison population. Despite a prison policy enacted in 2013 stating that inmates in the SMU should be returned to the general population after four consecutive status reviews showing good behavior, after eight status reviews recommending and approving of transfer out of the SMU, he remained in solitary confinement without explanation; the grievances he submitted to prison officials regarding his placement were not addressed.

The complaint also detailed substandard conditions and mistreatment in the Unit, including inadequate food and medical care and a total lack of recreational or educational opportunities. At the time the plaintiff filed his complaint, he remained in the Special Management Unit with his status there marked "indefinite."

Procedural History
On May 18, 2015, the plaintiff filed a motion for a preliminary injunction. The motion indicated that prison officials had temporarily eliminated access to legal services for his unit due to budget restrictions; it asked that defendants be compelled to allow him the same access to legal research services that the general prison population received. On June 16, U.S. District Judge Marc T. Treadwell adopted Magistrate Judge Charles H. Weigle’s recommendation to deny the motion because the plaintiff failed to show he faced irreparable injury or was likely to succeed on the merits. 2015 WL 13869065.

In the meantime, on June 4, defendants moved to dismiss the plaintiffs' complaint, arguing that the statute of limitations had passed, that plaintiff had failed to exhaust administrative procedures, that he failed to state a claim, and that defendants were immune from liability. The court stayed discovery while it considered the motion. On March 31, 2016, Judge Treadwell denied the motion to dismiss with respect to all claims regarding plaintiffs' confinement in the period after August 2013, when GDCP made policy changes requiring inmates to be removed from the SMU after four positive status hearings. However, Judge Treadwell granted the motion to dismiss with respect to all claims regarding plaintiffs' confinement prior to that period. Judge Treadwell also granted plaintiff leave to amend his complaint from February 2015 to include additional due process and Eighth Amendment claims. 2016 WL 1266950.

On September 1, 2016, the court briefly stayed this case along with a number of other cases relating to SMU placement that were also filed pro se in order to determine whether the cases should be consolidated. The court appointed the plaintiff counsel from the Southern Center for Human Rights (SCHR) on October 17, 2016, and discovery commenced in December 2016.

On March 11, 2017, the plaintiff filed an amended complaint, this time represented by counsel from SCHR. The amended complaint greatly expanded the scope of the case, seeking class certification covering not just the named plainitff but everyone in the SMU and providing more detail about the extremely restrictive and isolating nature of GDCP's SMU. It alleged not only that the prison had failed to meaningfully assess the plaintiff's status in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment but also that the conditions of confinement in the unit violated the Eighth Amendment. Specifically, the Complaint claimed that the use of solitary confinement, grossly disproportionate punishment, and inadequate food constituted cruel and unusual punishment. The complaint sought to certify a class of all inmates who were in or would be placed in GDCP's SMU.

On March 20, 2017 another prisoner moved to intervene in the case. The prisoner had been in solitary confinement at GDCP and was then moved to a similar unit at Georgia State Prison ("GSP"). Judge Treadwell denied the motion to intervene on September 15, 2017 because the other prisoner was ineligible for "in forma pauperis" status under the Prison Litigation Reform Act’s Three Strikes provision and in any event had no right to intervene. 2017 WL 4102742. On October 2, the prisoner appealed the denial to the U.S. Court of Appeals, but his appeal was dismissed for failure to pay filing fees.

The plaintiff filed a motion for preliminary injunction on July 5, 2018, asking the court to order GDCP to allow all prisoners in SMU at least three hours of out-of-cell time daily, and to establish within thirty days plans to meaningfully increase programming for prisoners in SMU and to identify and move prisoners in SMU who suffered from mental illness. Plaintffs also amended the motion for class certification on July 13, 2018. The court took no action on these motions, but the parties entered settlement negotiations alongside continued discovery.

On December 21, 2018, the parties filed a joint motion for preliminary approval of the class and a settlement agreement. The settlement agreement proposed various measures to improve the confinement conditions at the GDCP, including regular opportunities for outdoor and indoor out-of-cell time, as well as access to the library and other educational resources.

On January 17, 2019, Judge Treadwell granted preliminary approval of the settlement. A fairness hearing was set for April 30, 2019. 2019 WL 479506. On February 5, 2019, Judge Treadwell denied the pending motions for preliminary injunction and class certification because the final approval of the settlement agreement would make these motions moot. Judge Treadwell also stated that if the settlement agreement were not approved, the plaintiffs could reinstate these motions.

Settlement
On May 7, 2019, Judge Treadwell issued an order certifying the settlement class and adopting the settlement agreement, which will remain in force for three years. The settlement agreement contains a range of provisions: a minimum of four hours outside cells each day Monday - Friday; access to tablet devices with games, books, and other educational materials; ability to request materials from the prison library and mobile book carts; out-of-cell programming and classes; and access to the same food, hygiene items, laundry and barbering services as the general prison population. The settlement also establishes a 24-month limit on confinement in the SMU and revised procedures for determining assignment to the SMU. The agreement provides for monitoring meetings every nine months, limited access to SMU records, yearly visits to SMU by class counsel, training for staff at GDCP, and confidential communications and meetings between class members and class counsel. Defendants agreed to pay $425,000 in attorneys' fees, which were granted by the court in a separate order on July 30, 2019. The court retains jurisdiction until the agreement expires on May 7, 2022. 2019 WL 2017497.

Current Status
The court granted $425,000 in attorneys' fees on July 30, 2019. Supervision is ongoing.

Lauren Latterell Powell - 01/06/2018
Lisa Koo - 03/03/2019
Hetali Lodaya - 06/15/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process
Content of Injunction
Monitor/Master
Monitoring
Preliminary relief denied
Recordkeeping
Reporting
Required disclosure
Training
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Conditions of confinement
Disciplinary procedures
Disciplinary segregation
Food service / nutrition / hydration
Law library access
Phone
Recreation / Exercise
Religious programs / policies
Sanitation / living conditions
Solitary confinement/Supermax (conditions or process)
Strip search policy
Totality of conditions
Visiting
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Mental health care, general
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Ex parte Young (federal or state officials)
Defendant(s) Georgia Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description The plaintiff is a prisoner at Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison who alleged he had been wrongfully kept in solitary confinement.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Southern Center for Human Rights (SCHR)
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2019 - 2022
Filed 02/12/2015
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)
  Jail Strip-Search Cases: Patterns and Participants
http://law.duke.edu/journals/lcp
Date: Spring 2008
By: Margo Schlanger (Washington University in St. Louis Faculty)
Citation: 71 Law & Contemp. Problems 65 (2008)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
5:15−cv−00041−MTT−CHW (M.D. Ga.)
PC-GA-0020-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/09/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PC-GA-0020-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/12/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order and Recommendation [ECF# 15]
PC-GA-0020-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/22/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 35] (2016 WL 1266950) (M.D. Ga.)
PC-GA-0020-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 03/31/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Second Amended Complaint [ECF# 73]
PC-GA-0020-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/11/2017
Source: ACLU National Prison Project
Report and Recommendation [ECF# 100]
PC-GA-0020-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/20/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Notice of Appeal [ECF# 104]
PC-GA-0020-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/02/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 121] (M.D. Ga.)
PC-GA-0020-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/21/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Settlement Agreement Regarding the Special Management Unit [ECF# 207-1]
PC-GA-0020-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/21/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Final Order and Permanent Injunction [ECF# 256] (2019 WL 2017497) (M.D. Ga.)
PC-GA-0020-0010.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 05/07/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Settlement Agreement Regarding the Special Management Unit [ECF# 256-1 ]
PC-GA-0020-0011.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/07/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 282] (2019 WL 9049110) (M.D. Ga.)
PC-GA-0020-0009.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 07/30/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Treadwell, Marc Thomas (M.D. Ga.) show/hide docs
PC-GA-0020-0003 | PC-GA-0020-0009 | PC-GA-0020-0010 | PC-GA-0020-9000
Weigle, Charles H. Court not on record [Magistrate] show/hide docs
PC-GA-0020-0005 | PC-GA-0020-0007 | PC-GA-0020-0008 | PC-GA-0020-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bogan, James F III (Georgia) show/hide docs
PC-GA-0020-0011 | PC-GA-0020-9000
Caldas, Tamara S. (Georgia) show/hide docs
PC-GA-0020-0011 | PC-GA-0020-9000
Garrett, C Allen Jr (Georgia) show/hide docs
PC-GA-0020-0011 | PC-GA-0020-9000
Geraghty, Sarah E. (Georgia) show/hide docs
PC-GA-0020-0001 | PC-GA-0020-0006 | PC-GA-0020-0011 | PC-GA-0020-9000
Haaf, Chris William (North Carolina) show/hide docs
PC-GA-0020-0011 | PC-GA-0020-9000
Littman, Aaron Michael (Georgia) show/hide docs
PC-GA-0020-0011 | PC-GA-0020-9000
Primerano, Ryan (Georgia) show/hide docs
PC-GA-0020-0001 | PC-GA-0020-0011 | PC-GA-0020-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Crowder, Elizabeth McRary (Georgia) show/hide docs
PC-GA-0020-0006 | PC-GA-0020-0011 | PC-GA-0020-9000
Demoulpied, John (Georgia) show/hide docs
PC-GA-0020-9000
Lones, Laura Louise (Georgia) show/hide docs
PC-GA-0020-9000
Shapiro, Robert B (Georgia) show/hide docs
PC-GA-0020-9000
Teaster, Susan Elizabeth (Georgia) show/hide docs
PC-GA-0020-0011 | PC-GA-0020-9000

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