University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Washington v. Denney PC-MO-0016
Docket / Court 14-cv-06118 ( W.D. Mo. )
Additional Docket(s) 15-3243  [ 15-3243 ]
17-2747  [ 17-2747 ]
State/Territory Missouri
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
On October 15, 2014, the plaintiff, an inmate at Crossroads Correctional Center, filed this complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri. The plaintiff brought this suit under 42 U.S.C. §1983 against prison administrators, including the warden and guards, for violating ... read more >
On October 15, 2014, the plaintiff, an inmate at Crossroads Correctional Center, filed this complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri. The plaintiff brought this suit under 42 U.S.C. §1983 against prison administrators, including the warden and guards, for violating his Eighth Amendment rights. The plaintiff filed pro se, but requested representation.

Specifically, the inmate alleged that he was forced to inhale second-hand cigarette smoke which jeopardized his health in general and aggravated his asthma. He alleged that prison staff acted with deliberate indifference to the dangers cigarette smoke posed to his health, and even encouraged the smoking by selling large amounts of cigarettes to inmates. Moreover, the prison had a policy against indoor smoking, but this regulation was rarely if ever enforced. The inmate sought an injunction to stop the smoking at Crossroads and other correctional centers, as well as prohibiting the sale of tobacco products in prisons.

On May 8, 2015, the plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction was denied because the complaint called for post-judgement relief. On June 8, 2015 the case was dismissed due to the plaintiff’s failure to state a claim, however, he was able to reopen the case by filing an amended complaint on June 30, 2015.

On October 7, 2015, the plaintiff filed an appeal in the Eighth Circuit to challenge the district court’s denial of preliminary injunctive relief. The Circuit Court assessed a $505 fee for the appeal, which the plaintiff was unable to pay. Therefore, on October 15, 2015 the plaintiff requested the appeal be dismissed, which the court granted on October 20, 2015.

Months later, on July 11, 2016, the district court appointed private counsel to represent the plaintiff in this case. The parties subsequently entered into mediation to try reaching a settlement. However, these mediation talks fell apart in late October 2016, and the parties began to prepare for trial.

On April 12, 2017 the trial was held before a jury. The jury delivered a verdict in favor of the plaintiff awarding him $40,000 in compensatory damages and $111,000 in punitive damages. Following the trial the plaintiff filed a motion for attorney’s fees and expenses. On May 10, 2017, however, the defense filed a motion with the court requesting a judgment as a matter of law in their favor or a new trial. Both requests were denied on June 26, 2017. The court found that deliberate indifference was evident, in part, because the plaintiff was able to show he had previously filed eight grievances with information about his suffering health. Defendants did not do anything to alleviate the problem, and the court found that a reasonable jury could conclude that serious injury could result from such treatment. The damage amount remained in place and the Court found no evidence to support the defendants’ motion for a new trial.

On June 27, 2017, the court advised the parties to enter mediation concerning the injunctive relief. 2017 WL 2773709. While mediation continued, defendants appealed the amount of damages to the Eighth Circuit on July 26, 2017. On September 21, 2017, the two parties indicated they had reached an agreement regarding the implementation of injunctive relief sought by the plaintiff, and together made a joint motion for post judgment injunctive relief, which was then affirmed by the court, issuing an order for post judgment injunctive relief. The court ordered that all correctional facilities across Missouri should remove cigarette products from their facilities on or before April 1, 2018.

On October 3, 2017 the court awarded plaintiff’s counsel $161,681.02 in attorneys fees. The plaintiff was also ordered to pay $11,100, which was ten percent of the award granted to him by the jury. 2017 WL 4399566.

Will McCartney - 02/08/2018


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Content of Injunction
Implement complaint/dispute resolution process
Preliminary relief denied
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Conditions of confinement
Failure to discipline
Failure to supervise
Inadequate citizen complaint investigations and procedures
Sanitation / living conditions
Totality of conditions
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Medication, administration of
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
State law
Defendant(s) Cross Roads Correctional Center
Plaintiff Description Inmate at CrossRoads Correctional Facility
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2018 - n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  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)
5:14−cv−06118−NKL (W.D. Mo.)
PC-MO-0016-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/03/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint Under the Civil Rights Act of 42 U.S.C. 1983 [ECF# 1]
PC-MO-0016-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/15/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amended Complaint [ECF# 18]
PC-MO-0016-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/12/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 195] (W.D. Mo.)
PC-MO-0016-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/26/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Stipulated Order on Plaintiff's Motion for Postjudgment Injunctive Relief [ECF# 215] (W.D. Mo.)
PC-MO-0016-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/21/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 217] (W.D. Mo.)
PC-MO-0016-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/03/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Laughrey, Nanette Kay (E.D. Mo., W.D. Mo.)
PC-MO-0016-0001 | PC-MO-0016-0004 | PC-MO-0016-0005 | PC-MO-0016-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Foster, Michael S. (Missouri)
PC-MO-0016-9000
Zeeck, Phillip James Richard (Missouri)
PC-MO-0016-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Lockhart, Lynnette Nefertiti (Missouri)
PC-MO-0016-9000
Sankar, Dion F. (Missouri)
PC-MO-0016-9000
Stoppy, Lynn Merle (Missouri)
PC-MO-0016-9000
Taulbee, Nicolas (Missouri)
PC-MO-0016-9000

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