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Case Name Passion Star a/k/a Zollicoffer v. Livingston PC-TX-0020
Docket / Court 4:14-cv-03037 ( S.D. Tex. )
State/Territory Texas
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Attorney Organization Lambda Legal
Case Summary
On October 23, 2014, a transgender woman in the custody of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice ("DCJ") filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. The plaintiff sought declaratory, injunctive relief, and damages against the defendants, several officials of ... read more >
On October 23, 2014, a transgender woman in the custody of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice ("DCJ") filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. The plaintiff sought declaratory, injunctive relief, and damages against the defendants, several officials of DCJ, for violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and §1988. Specifically, the plaintiff alleged that the defendants were deliberately indifferent to the abuse she received from male inmates and refused to place her into secure housing or take other steps to reduce her abuse.

On January 9, 2015, the defendants moved to transfer venue to the Western District of Texas on the grounds that the plaintiff was housed in the Western District from 2011-13 and several defendants work and reside in the Western District. The Court (Judge Alfred H. Bennett) denied their motion as several Defendants resided in the Southern District and the Defendants failed to identify key witnesses that would not be available for testimony if the case remained in the Southern District, instead only offering mere allegations of witness unavailability and inconvenience. 2015 WL 1893737.

The Defendant Executive Director of DCJ moved to the dismiss the case pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) on February 17, 2015. The Defendant contended that the complaint failed to plead any specific facts establishing that the Executive Director participated in the failure to protect the Plaintiff, thus failing to meet the requirement established by the Supreme Court case Ashcroft v. Iqbal that a supervisory official must be personally involved to defeat qualified immunity. The defendant further argued that the injunctive relief claim should be dismissed because there was no actual ongoing controversy, as the Plaintiff no longer resided in the facility where she alleged abuses. Lastly, the defendant argued that retrospective injunctive and declaratory relief claims were improper as they implicated Eleventh Amendment concerns on state sovereign immunity.

The Court denied the Executive Director's Motion to Dismiss on March 14, 2016. The Court found Plaintiff successfully stated a claim as the Executive Director had participated in hearings about prison rape and had been called by the Department of Justice to account for the statistics concerning sexual assault within DCJ. Because of the Executive Director's awareness, the Court found the Plaintiff had sufficiently alleged facts that the Executive Director knew of and was deliberately indifferent to the risk of sexual assault at the facilities. Further, the Plaintiff successfully stated a claim because she sought to hold the Executive Director liable for personally failing to train and supervise DCJ personnel and failing to establish adequate policy, and was not attempting to hold the Executive Director liable via respondeat superior. The Court found that qualified immunity would not apply because sending an LGBT prisoner back to the general population after experiencing multiple attacks is an unreasonable policy to maintain. 169 F. Supp. 3d 687.

The Court next found that the Plaintiff successfully stated a claim for injunctive relief because the plaintiff could be transferred at any time, and thus the fact that she was not currently in a unit where she experienced assault did not render her claim moot. Finally, the Court found that the Executive Director's claim that the Plaintiff sought retrospective injunctive relief was incorrect because the Plaintiff sought expungement of her disciplinary records, and a request for expungement is prospective. 169 F. Supp. 3d 687.

On March 1, 2017, the Court granted a motion to stay proceedings pending the parties' finalization of a settlement agreement. Settlement negotiations continued through February 26, 2018, when the parties submitted a stipulation of dismissal with prejudice pursuant to their settlement agreement. The settlement agreement was private, but was reported to include a monetary payment, systematic policy changes, and training of DCJ staff. Lamba Legal, Lamba Legal Reaches Favorable Settlement for Passion Star, Transgender Woman Sexually Assaulted in Texas Men's Prison, Lamba Legal (March 15, 2018), https://www.lambdalegal.org/blog/20180315_tdcj-settlement.

The case is closed; the settlement apparently did not include any provision for ongoing jurisdiction to enforce its terms.

Cade Boland - 06/15/2018


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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
Training
Defendant-type
Corrections
Discrimination-basis
Gender identity
General
Assault/abuse by residents/inmates/students
Classification / placement
Conditions of confinement
Gay/lesbian/transgender
Incident/accident reporting & investigations
Sexual abuse by residents/inmates
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Texas
Plaintiff Description Thirty-year-old transgender woman in the custody of Defendant Department of Criminal Justice.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Lambda Legal
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Voluntary Dismissal
Order Duration 2018 - n/a
Filing Year 2014
Case Closing Year 2018
Case Ongoing No
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)
4:14-cv-3037 (S.D. Tex.)
PC-TX-0020-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/02/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Plaintiff's Complaint for Preliminary and Permanent Injunctive Relief, Declaratory Judgment, and Damages [ECF# 1]
PC-TX-0020-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/23/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiff's Amended Complaint for Preliminary and Permanent Injunctive Relief, Declaratory Judgment, and Damages [ECF# 35]
PC-TX-0020-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/28/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 59] (2015 WL 1893737) (S.D. Tex.)
PC-TX-0020-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 04/27/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 77] (169 F.Supp.3d 687) (S.D. Tex.)
PC-TX-0020-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 03/14/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Agreed Stipulation of Dismissal with Prejudice [ECF# 102]
PC-TX-0020-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/26/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Final Judgment [ECF# 103] (S.D. Tex.)
PC-TX-0020-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/02/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Bennett, Alfred Homer (S.D. Tex.)
PC-TX-0020-0004 | PC-TX-0020-0006 | PC-TX-0020-9000
Miller, Gray Hampton (S.D. Tex.)
PC-TX-0020-0003
Plaintiff's Lawyers Castillo, Paul D. (Texas)
PC-TX-0020-0002 | PC-TX-0020-0005 | PC-TX-0020-9000
Goodrich, Christina Noel (California)
PC-TX-0020-0002 | PC-TX-0020-0005 | PC-TX-0020-9000
Gordon, Demoya Renee (New York)
PC-TX-0020-0005 | PC-TX-0020-9000
Humphrey−Skomer, Jael (New York)
PC-TX-0020-0002 | PC-TX-0020-9000
Kondon, Christopher J. (California)
PC-TX-0020-0002 | PC-TX-0020-0005 | PC-TX-0020-9000
Rejali, Saman M. (California)
PC-TX-0020-0002 | PC-TX-0020-0005 | PC-TX-0020-9000
Upton, Kenneth D. (Texas)
PC-TX-0020-0001 | PC-TX-0020-0002 | PC-TX-0020-0005 | PC-TX-0020-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Coogan, Kim (Texas)
PC-TX-0020-9000
Davis, James E. (Texas)
PC-TX-0020-0005
Dennis, Seth Byron (Texas)
PC-TX-0020-0005 | PC-TX-0020-9000
Mase, Lacey E. (Texas)
PC-TX-0020-0005
Mateer, Jeffrey C. (Texas)
PC-TX-0020-0005
Paxton, Ken (Texas)
PC-TX-0020-0005
Starr, Brantley D. (Texas)
PC-TX-0020-0005

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