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Case Name Sabata v. Nebraska Department of Correctional Services PC-NE-0013
Docket / Court 4:17-cv-03107 ( D. Neb. )
State/Territory Nebraska
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU National Prison Project
Appleseed
Rosen, Bien, Galvan & Grunfeld
Case Summary
On August 15, 2017, eleven prisoners filed a putative class action complaint against the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (NDCS) and the Nebraska Board of Parole (BOP) in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiffs, represented by the ... read more >
On August 15, 2017, eleven prisoners filed a putative class action complaint against the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (NDCS) and the Nebraska Board of Parole (BOP) in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiffs, represented by the ACLU's National Prison Project, the National Association of the Deaf, and private counsel sought injunctive relief and attorneys’ fees, claiming that the prison conditions in Nebraska endangered the health, safety, and lives of prisoners and staff on a daily basis. The complaint alleged chronic overcrowding and under-staffing, a lack of staff training, a flawed parole system, an over reliance on isolation, and inadequate health care. In particular, the plaintiffs claimed violations of § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. This case was assigned to Judge Robert F. Rossiter, Jr. and referred to Magistrate Judge Michael Nelson.

On November 6, 2017, the defendants moved to dismiss the plaintiffs’ complaint for failure to state a claim and lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The defendants sought to have all claims against the BOP dismissed entirely and to dismiss all § 1983 claims against both defendants. On January 16, 2018, Judge Robert F. Rossiter, Jr. granted in part and denied in part the defendants' motion to dismiss. The court ruled that BOP defendants were not dismissed as parties, but that all § 1983 claims against the BOP and the NDCS were dismissed with prejudice. The parties began discovery.

On July 27, 2018, the defendants moved for partial summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiffs had failed to exhaust remedies as required under the Prison Litigation Reform Act. A few months later, the defendants also moved for summary judgment as to an individual defendant (the Director of Supervision and Services of the Division of Parole Supervision) and to dismiss an individual named plaintiff who had since been released from prison. As of February 2019, the court has yet to rule on any of these motions.

On February 19, 2019, the plaintiffs moved for class certification. They sought to represent a class of "all persons who are now, or will in the future, be subjected to the health care (including medical, mental health and dental care) policies and practices of NDCS." They also sought to certify two subclasses: an Isolation Subclass (“all NDCS prisoners who are now, or will in the future be, subject to conditions of confinement that provide limited contact with other prisoners, strictly controlled movement while out of cell, and out-of-cell time of less than twenty-four hours per week") and a Disability Subclass ("“all persons with disabilities who are now, or will in the future be, confined at any NDCS facility”). The plaintiffs submitted several expert reports to support their motion.

Litigation continues, as the parties litigate several discovery disputes.

Sean Whetstone - 07/19/2018
Gabriela Hybel - 02/21/2019


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
Defendant-type
Corrections
Disability
disability, unspecified
Hearing impairment
Mental impairment
Mobility impairment
Visual impairment
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Administrative segregation
Assault/abuse by staff
Classification / placement
Conditions of confinement
Counseling
Disciplinary procedures
Disciplinary segregation
Failure to discipline
Failure to supervise
Failure to train
Grievance Procedures
Restraints : physical
Solitary confinement/Supermax (conditions or process)
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Suicide prevention
Torture
Totality of conditions
Medical/Mental Health
HIV/AIDS
Intellectual disability/mental illness dual diagnosis
Medical care, general
Medical care, unspecified
Mental health care, general
Self-injurious behaviors
Suicide prevention
Untreated pain
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.
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701
Defendant(s) Nebraska Board of Parole (BOP)
Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (NDOC)
Plaintiff Description Eleven Nebraska state prisoners filed this class action lawsuit on on behalf of themselves and similarly situated Nebraska State prisoners because they were deprived of adequate health care, including medical, dental and mental care, and denied accommodations for their disabilities. The plaintiffs claimed that the defendants' practices and procedures violated the Eighth Amendment, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU National Prison Project
Appleseed
Rosen, Bien, Galvan & Grunfeld
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Pending
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None yet
Filing Year 2017
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)
  Prison Reforms Can Have Positive Impact on Kids, Expert Says
The Council of State Governments Justice Center website
Date: October 2016
By: Emily Nohr (The Council of State Governments Justice Center)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Group Studying Why Prison Population is Up While Crime Declines
The Council of State Governments Justice Center website
Date: August 2014
By: JoAnne Young (The Council of State Governments Justice Center)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  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)
4:17-cv-03107-RFR-MDN (D. Neb.)
PC-NE-0013-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/21/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief [ECF# 1]
PC-NE-0013-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/15/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum and Order [ECF# 53] (D. Neb.)
PC-NE-0013-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/16/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Exhibit 3: Photos Referenced in Expert Declarations of Plaintiffs' Class Cert Motion
PC-NE-0013-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/19/2019
Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
Expert Declaration of Craig Haney in Support of Plaintiffs' Class Cert Motion [ECF# 249-42]
PC-NE-0013-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/19/2019
Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
Expert Declaration of Margo Schlanger in Support of Plaintiffs' Class Cert Motion [ECF# 249-50]
PC-NE-0013-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/19/2019
Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
Expert Declaration of Marc Stern in Support of Plaintiffs' Class Cert Motion [ECF# 249-58]
PC-NE-0013-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/19/2019
Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
Expert Declaration of Dr. Pablo Stewart [ECF# 249-38]
PC-NE-0013-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/19/2019
Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
Expert Declaration of Eldon Vail in Support of Plaintiffs' Class Cert Motion [ECF# 249-47]
PC-NE-0013-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/19/2019
Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
Expert Report of Jay Shulman, DDS [ECF# 249-53]
PC-NE-0013-0010.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/19/2019
Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
Motion for Class Certification [ECF# 250]
PC-NE-0013-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/19/2019
Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
show all people docs
Judges Rossiter, Robert F. Jr. (D. Neb.) show/hide docs
PC-NE-0013-0002 | PC-NE-0013-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Arulanantham, Rekha (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-NE-0013-9000
Bien, Michael W. (California) show/hide docs
PC-NE-0013-0001 | PC-NE-0013-9000
Bien-Kahn, Benjamin Joseph (California) show/hide docs
PC-NE-0013-9000
Day, Andrew D. (California) show/hide docs
PC-NE-0013-9000
Eldridge, Jennifer (Illinois) show/hide docs
PC-NE-0013-0001 | PC-NE-0013-9000
Emilio, Anna Bitencourt (Maryland) show/hide docs
PC-NE-0013-9000
Fathi, David Cyrus (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-NE-0013-0001 | PC-NE-0013-9000
Fettig, Amy (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-NE-0013-9000
Galvan, Ernest (California) show/hide docs
PC-NE-0013-9000
Goodman, Aaron T (Arizona) show/hide docs
PC-NE-0013-9000
Janssen, Kara J. (California) show/hide docs
PC-NE-0013-0001 | PC-NE-0013-0003 | PC-NE-0013-9000
Jenkins, Dawn M. (Texas) show/hide docs
PC-NE-0013-0001 | PC-NE-0013-9000
Kuhlik, Lauren (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-NE-0013-9000
McEwen, Robert E. (Nebraska) show/hide docs
PC-NE-0013-0001 | PC-NE-0013-9000
Miller, Amy A. (Nebraska) show/hide docs
PC-NE-0013-0001 | PC-NE-0013-9000
Patkin, Debra (California) show/hide docs
PC-NE-0013-0001 | PC-NE-0013-9000
Smith, Kenneth M. (Nebraska) show/hide docs
PC-NE-0013-0001 | PC-NE-0013-9000
Wedekind, Jennifer A. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-NE-0013-9000
Young, Christopher M. (California) show/hide docs
PC-NE-0013-0001 | PC-NE-0013-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Ertz, Timothy R. (Missouri) show/hide docs
PC-NE-0013-9000
Forch, Jessica M. (Nebraska) show/hide docs
PC-NE-0013-9000
Goins, Benjamin M. (Nebraska) show/hide docs
PC-NE-0013-9000
Jones, Danielle L. (Nebraska) show/hide docs
PC-NE-0013-9000
Lopez, David A. (Nebraska) show/hide docs
PC-NE-0013-9000
O'Brien, Katherine (Nebraska) show/hide docs
PC-NE-0013-9000
Post, Ryan S (Nebraska) show/hide docs
PC-NE-0013-9000
Rowley, Danielle L. (Nebraska) show/hide docs
PC-NE-0013-9000

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