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Case Name Human Rights Defense Center v. Ballard PC-KY-0009
Docket / Court 3:17-cv-00057-GFVT ( E.D. Ky. )
State/Territory Kentucky
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Special Collection Prison Legal News
Case Summary
On July 17, 2017, the Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC) filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky. HRDC sued both the former and current commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Corrections (KDOC), as well as many agents of the KDOC, all under 42 U.S.C. § ... read more >
On July 17, 2017, the Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC) filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky. HRDC sued both the former and current commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Corrections (KDOC), as well as many agents of the KDOC, all under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. HRDC, a charitable organization and publisher of Prison Legal News, sought declaratory, injunctive, and monetary relief as well as attorneys’ fees. The plaintiffs claimed that KDOC's policy of banning books sent to prisoners violated the free speech clause of the First Amendment and the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. More specifically, HRDC alleged that KDOC prohibited prisoners from receiving books that were not directly purchased by prisoners and also prohibited them if the sender was not on a pre-approved vendors list. The complaint alleged that dozens of books sent to prisoners were censored, and that on several occasions, HRDC received notices indicating the books were rejected for a variety of reasons.

On March 6 and July 17, 2018, HRDC filed a first and second amended complaint adding several defendants but making few substantive changes to the allegations or claims.

After several months of discovery, the parties reached a settlement agreement and HRDC moved for the approval of this agreement on January 28, 2019. The defendants agreed to deliver all HRDC publications sent to people incarcerated in their facilities, so long as the publications were consistent with legitimate penological interests. The defendants also agreed not to reject books simply because they were not on a list of approved senders or for because they were mailed in colored envelopes. Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove issued an order on March 26, 2019 approving the settlement agreement of injunctive claims; retaining jurisdiction to enforce the terms of the settlement; and dismissing the injunctive claims against the defendants with prejudice.

On July 15, 2019, the parties filed a joint motion to dismiss the case. The court issued an order on July 17, 2019 asserting its retained jurisdiction over the execution of the settlement agreement and adjudication of attorneys' fees, costs, and expenses. It dismissed with prejudice all other claims for damages and declaratory relief.

After the defendants opposed the plaintiff's motion for attorneys' fees and costs by arguing that it was unreasonable, Judge Van Tatenhove reduced the award slightly but largely granted the plaintiff's counsel their full requested fees and costs. 2020 WL 2513822. The final amounts awarded were $102,660 in attorneys' fees, and $2,051.37 in costs. The case is now closed.

Jake Parker - 06/07/2018
Alex Moody - 03/25/2021


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Freedom of speech/association
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Mail
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Kentucky Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description The Human Rights Defense Center, a not-for-profit charitable organization whose purpose is to educate prisoners and the public about the constitutional rights of prisoners, conditions in American jails and prisons, and the economic and social costs of mass incarceration.
Class action status sought No
Class action status outcome Not sought
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Filed 07/17/2017
Case Closing Year 2020
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (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 ]

Court Docket(s)
E.D. Ky.
05/15/2020
3:17-cv-00057
PC-KY-0009-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
E.D. Ky.
07/17/2017
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PC-KY-0009-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Ky.
07/17/2018
Second Amended Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief and Damages Under the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1983 [ECF# 42]
PC-KY-0009-0004.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Ky.
01/28/2019
Plaintiff's Motion to Approve Settlement of Injunctive Claims [ECF# 50]
PC-KY-0009-0003.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Ky.
01/28/2019
Settlement Agreement of Injunctive Claims [ECF# 50-1]
PC-KY-0009-0006.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Ky.
03/26/2019
Order [ECF# 51]
PC-KY-0009-0005.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Ky.
05/15/2020
Memorandum Opinion & Order [ECF# 77] (2020 WL 2513822)
PC-KY-0009-0007.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Atkins, Edward B. (E.D. Ky.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
PC-KY-0009-9000
Van Tatenhove, Gregory Frederick (E.D. Ky.) show/hide docs
PC-KY-0009-0005 | PC-KY-0009-0007 | PC-KY-0009-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bathurst, Camille (Kentucky) show/hide docs
PC-KY-0009-0004 | PC-KY-0009-9000
Belzley, Gregory A. (Kentucky) show/hide docs
PC-KY-0009-0001 | PC-KY-0009-0003 | PC-KY-0009-0004 | PC-KY-0009-9000
Johnson, Bruce E.H. (Washington) show/hide docs
PC-KY-0009-0003 | PC-KY-0009-9000
Marshall, Daniel (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-KY-0009-0003 | PC-KY-0009-0004 | PC-KY-0009-9000
Mutamba, Masimba (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-KY-0009-0003 | PC-KY-0009-0004 | PC-KY-0009-9000
Neelakanta, Sabarish (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-KY-0009-0001 | PC-KY-0009-0003 | PC-KY-0009-0004 | PC-KY-0009-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Brown, Allison R. (Kentucky) show/hide docs
PC-KY-0009-9000
Dunn, Barry L (Kentucky) show/hide docs
PC-KY-0009-9000
Kinsolving, Megan Handshoe (Kentucky) show/hide docs
PC-KY-0009-9000
Nolan, Brett Robert (Kentucky) show/hide docs
PC-KY-0009-9000

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