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Case Name Disability Rights Florida v. Jones PC-FL-0027
Docket / Court 4:16-cv-00047 ( N.D. Fla. )
State/Territory Florida
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Prison Conditions
Attorney Organization Florida Justice Institute
NDRN/Protection & Advocacy Organizations
Case Summary
Disability Rights Florida ("DRF"), brought this suit against the Florida Department of Corrections ("FDOC") in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida on January 26, 2016. The plaintiff, a federally designated protection and advocacy agency for the State of Florida, alleged ... read more >
Disability Rights Florida ("DRF"), brought this suit against the Florida Department of Corrections ("FDOC") in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida on January 26, 2016. The plaintiff, a federally designated protection and advocacy agency for the State of Florida, alleged that the defendant failed to provide inmates with disabilities access to its programs and services in violation of federal law. Specifically, plaintiff alleged that defendant failed to provide interpreters, hearing aids, telecommunications access, and effective emergency alerts to inmates who were deaf or hard of hearing; failed to maintain wheelchair-accessible facilities or provide and maintain wheelchairs and prosthetic devices for inmates with mobility impairments; excluded inmates with disabilities from education, employment, and recreational programs; charged inmates for accommodations relating to their disabilities; retaliated against those who asserted their rights as persons with disabilities; and failed to train staff on issues related to disability rights and federal disability law. The plaintiff sought declaratory and injunctive relief under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Eighth Amendment, and the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

On April 25, 2016, the state filed a motion for partial dismissal. Florida argued that several of the inmates named in the Complaint were no longer in FDOC custody or had already settled their claims. The defendant also argued that several of the allegations were barred by a four-year statute of limitations.

The parties engaged in conferences over the next several months.

On January 9, 2017, the United States moved to intervene in the case, claiming a substantial interest because of the ADA and Section 504 issues at stake. On January 30, the plaintiff moved for summary judgment.

On February 6, 2017, the parties jointly moved for a stay of proceedings so that they could actively pursue settlement. On July 7, 2017, the parties notified the court that they had reached a settlement. The settlement required the FDOC to implement changes that would make Florida prison services, programming, and other aspects of daily activities, including emergency notifications, accessible to inmates with physical disabilities. The settlement also required FDOC to provide appropriate training for staff members on disability laws as well as establish internal policies regarding inmates with disabilities. The settlement required that DRF be able to conduct visits and speak confidentially with inmates to ensure compliance with the agreement. The settlement also required the FDOC to pay $2,000,000 in attorneys' fees and costs.

On July 11, Judge Robert L. Hinkle issued an order requiring the parties to comply with the Settlement Agreement, dismissing the claims, and retaining jurisdiction solely for the purpose of enforcing the Agreement. On July 13, the parties filed a motion asking the court to alter the July 11 order to reflect their wish that the Agreement be enforceable only through a breach of contract action in state court, not through an order of the U.S. District Court. Accordingly, on August 7, Judge Hinkle issued a new order recognizing as effective the parties' joint stipulation to dismiss the case with prejudice and end the court's jurisdiction.

However, in the fall of 2017, a number of inmates of FDOC, acting pro se, submitted filings to the court stating that they had been denied access to the settlement agreement or had been retaliated against for submitting grievances to the prison administration for issues relating to their disabilities. One inmate filed a motion for a preliminary injunction. On December 6, 2017, Judge Hinkle denied the motion, reasserting that the case was closed and suggesting that the individual file a separate lawsuit if he intended to pursue legal action. The same individual, again acting pro se, filed an appeal on December 4, 2017, with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, challenging the court's order closing the case. On December 18, he also appealed the order denying his motion for a preliminary injunction. On February 5, 2018, the court of appeals dismissed the appeal for want of prosecution.

The settlement is set to expire on July 6, 2021 so long as the defendants remain in compliance with the agreement. As of this writing in March 2019, the case remains ongoing.

Lauren Latterell Powell - 01/08/2018
Cianan Lesley - 03/17/2019


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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
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Discrimination Prohibition
Implement complaint/dispute resolution process
Monitoring
Reporting
Retaliation Prohibition
Training
Defendant-type
Corrections
Disability
disability, unspecified
Hearing impairment
Mobility impairment
Visual impairment
Discrimination-area
Training
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Access to public accommodations - governmental
Buildings
Conditions of confinement
Effective Communication (ADA)
Grievance Procedures
Law library access
Pattern or Practice
Reasonable Accommodations
Reasonable Modifications
Recreation / Exercise
Religious programs / policies
Screen readers and similar accessibility devices
TTY/Close Captioning/Videophone/etc.
Visiting
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Vision care
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701
Defendant(s) Florida Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description Disability Rights Florida, Florida's federally-designated Protection & Advocacy organization.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Florida Justice Institute
NDRN/Protection & Advocacy Organizations
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
State court-enforceable Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Filing Year 2016
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)
4:16−cv−00047−RH−CAS (N.D. Fla.)
PC-FL-0027-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/28/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 1]
PC-FL-0027-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/26/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment [ECF# 62]
PC-FL-0027-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/30/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Settlement Agreement [With Exhibits] [ECF# 71]
PC-FL-0027-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/07/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Hinkle, Robert Lewis (N.D. Fla.) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0027-9000
Stampelos, Charles A (N.D. Fla.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
PC-FL-0027-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Berg, Randall Challen Jr. (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0027-0001 | PC-FL-0027-0002 | PC-FL-0027-0003 | PC-FL-0027-9000
Boyer, David Allen (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0027-0001 | PC-FL-0027-0002 | PC-FL-0027-0003 | PC-FL-0027-9000
Caserta, Sharon (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0027-0001 | PC-FL-0027-0002 | PC-FL-0027-0003 | PC-FL-0027-9000
Oppenheimer, Elisabeth (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0027-9000
Paris, Molly Jean (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0027-0001 | PC-FL-0027-0002 | PC-FL-0027-0003 | PC-FL-0027-9000
Riley, Ann J. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0027-9000
Selig, Erica (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0027-0002 | PC-FL-0027-9000
Trevisani, Dante Pasquale (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0027-0001 | PC-FL-0027-0002 | PC-FL-0027-0003 | PC-FL-0027-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Bowden, Albert III (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0027-0003 | PC-FL-0027-9000
Braun, Jamie Melissa (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0027-9000
Tietig, Lisa Kuhlman (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0027-9000

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