University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Hicklin v. Precynthe PC-MO-0017
Docket / Court 4:16-cv-01357-NCC ( E.D. Mo. )
State/Territory Missouri
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Attorney Organization Lambda Legal
Case Summary
On August 22, 2016, a 37-year-old transgender woman incarcerated in the Potosi Correctional Center filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. The plaintiff sued the Missouri Department of Corrections (MDOC) and Corizon LLC, the contracted medical provider ... read more >
On August 22, 2016, a 37-year-old transgender woman incarcerated in the Potosi Correctional Center filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. The plaintiff sued the Missouri Department of Corrections (MDOC) and Corizon LLC, the contracted medical provider for MDOC, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Represented by Lambda Legal, she sought injunctive and declaratory relief, claiming violations of the Eighth Amendment’s Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause. Judge Noelle Collins was assigned to this case.

The plaintiff alleged that the defendants failed to provide medical care despite the plaintiff’s serious medical needs. The plaintiff was diagnosed with gender dysphoria and deemed by her doctors to be in need of medical services. The defendants were aware of the plaintiff’s condition but denied medical care. The defendants, in defense, cited a policy called “freeze-frame.” This policy denied gender dysphoria treatment unless the individual had received gender dysphoria medical care prior to being incarcerated in MDOC.

On April 4, 2017, the plaintiff filed a motion for a preliminary injunction asking for medical care necessary for gender dysphoria. This motion sought hormone therapy, access to permanent body hair removal, and access to gender affirming canteen items. In addition, the plaintiff asked that the court declare that the defendants’ freeze-frame policy to be unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment for Cruel and Unusual Punishment.

On February 9, 2018, the court granted in part and denied in part the plaintiff’s preliminary injunction request. The court granted the plaintiff’s request that she receive the necessary medical care needed for gender dysphoria such as hormone therapy, access to permanent body hair removal, and access to gender affirming canteen items. The court, however, denied the plaintiff’s request that the defendants’ policy should be declared unconstitutional. The court’s rationale was that there should not be a blanket rule in cases involving medical care and individuals incarcerated within a prison system. These decisions, according to the court, should be individualized. For that same reason, declaratory relief was denied. 2018 WL 806764.

The plaintiff continued to challenge the defendants’ policy. On February 26, 2018, the plaintiff amended her complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief. This amendment clarified that the plaintiff was not only challenging the application of the policy but also the constitutionality of the policy on its face.

On March 30, 2018, the plaintiff updated her request for declaratory judgment and permanent injunction. And then, on May 22, 2018, the court granted the plaintiff’s request for declaratory relief and permanent injunction. The court declared that the defendants’ failure to provide the necessary medical care was a violation of the Eighth Amendment. Moreover, the freeze-frame policy violates the Eighth Amendment by failing to account for individual medical needs of transgender prisoners who suffer from gender dysphoria, and that the defendants are prohibited from implementing the freeze frame policy. The defendants were ordered to provide treatment medically necessary for the plaintiff’s gender dysphoria, including hormone therapy, permanent hair removal, and access to gender-affirming canteen items as long as she remained in custody. The defendants did not oppose the plaintiff's motions and prior to the order, the plaintiff agreed to dismiss the individual Corizon defendants.

Furthermore, the defendants were ordered to pay for the plaintiff’s attorney fees and costs under 42 U.S.C. § 1988. The parties were ordered to reach an agreement on a reasonable amount for the attorney’s fees and costs. As of September 11, 2018, the case is ongoing.

Sean Whetstone - 05/23/2018


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Male
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Content of Injunction
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Discrimination Prohibition
Preliminary relief granted
Defendant-type
Corrections
Discrimination-basis
Sex discrimination
General
Conditions of confinement
Gay/lesbian/transgender
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Medication, administration of
Mental health care, unspecified
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) State of Missouri
State of Missouri
Plaintiff Description The plaintiff is a pre-operative transgender woman in the custody of the Missouri Department of Correction.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Lambda Legal
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Declaratory Judgment
Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Order Duration 2018 - n/a
Filing Year 2016
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)
4:16-cv-1357 (E.D. Mo.)
PC-MO-0017-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/19/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 19]
PC-MO-0017-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/22/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 63]
PC-MO-0017-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/04/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum of Law in Support of Plaintiff's Motion for Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 64]
PC-MO-0017-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/04/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum and Order [ECF# 145] (2018 WL 806764) (E.D. Mo.)
PC-MO-0017-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 02/09/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Amended Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 152]
PC-MO-0017-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/26/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiff's Motion for Declaratory Relief and a Permanent Injunction [ECF# 163]
PC-MO-0017-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/30/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum of Law in Support of Plaintiff's Motion for Declaratory Relief and a Permanent Injunction [ECF# 164]
PC-MO-0017-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/30/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum and Order and Permanent Injunction [ECF# 176] (E.D. Mo.)
PC-MO-0017-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/22/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Collins, Noelle C Court not on record [Magistrate]
PC-MO-0017-0008 | PC-MO-0017-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Braunstein, Frederick Andrew (New York)
PC-MO-0017-0005 | PC-MO-0017-0006 | PC-MO-0017-0007 | PC-MO-0017-9000
Butler, Marla R. (Minnesota)
PC-MO-0017-0005 | PC-MO-0017-0006 | PC-MO-0017-0007 | PC-MO-0017-9000
Charles, Carl (New York)
PC-MO-0017-9000
Gordon, Demoya Renee (New York)
PC-MO-0017-0001 | PC-MO-0017-0002 | PC-MO-0017-0003 | PC-MO-0017-0005 | PC-MO-0017-0006 | PC-MO-0017-0007 | PC-MO-0017-9000
Olson, Rajin Singh (Minnesota)
PC-MO-0017-0005 | PC-MO-0017-0006 | PC-MO-0017-0007 | PC-MO-0017-9000
Palazzolo, Kyle A. (Illinois)
PC-MO-0017-0001 | PC-MO-0017-0002 | PC-MO-0017-0003 | PC-MO-0017-9000
Roberg−Perez, Sharon Elizabeth (Minnesota)
PC-MO-0017-0005 | PC-MO-0017-0006 | PC-MO-0017-0007 | PC-MO-0017-9000
Saenz, Richard (New York)
PC-MO-0017-0001 | PC-MO-0017-0002 | PC-MO-0017-0003 | PC-MO-0017-0005 | PC-MO-0017-0006 | PC-MO-0017-0007 | PC-MO-0017-9000
Schriener, Kevin L. (Missouri)
PC-MO-0017-0001 | PC-MO-0017-0002 | PC-MO-0017-0003 | PC-MO-0017-0005 | PC-MO-0017-0006 | PC-MO-0017-0007 | PC-MO-0017-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Dean, David D. (Missouri)
PC-MO-0017-9000
Eckenrode, J. Thaddeus (Missouri)
PC-MO-0017-9000
Luepke, Henry F. III (Missouri)
PC-MO-0017-9000
Peek, Kevin K. (Missouri)
PC-MO-0017-9000
Sauer, Dean John (Missouri)
PC-MO-0017-9000

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