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Case Name A.T. v. Harder JI-NY-0011
Docket / Court 9:17-cv-00817-TJM-DEP ( N.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Juvenile Institution
Special Collection Solitary confinement
Attorney Organization Legal Services/Legal Aid
Case Summary
On July 25, 2017, two minors, represented by Legal Services of Central New York, filed this putative class-action civil-rights lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York, on behalf of all 16- and 17-year-old juveniles placed in solitary confinement in Broome County's ... read more >
On July 25, 2017, two minors, represented by Legal Services of Central New York, filed this putative class-action civil-rights lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York, on behalf of all 16- and 17-year-old juveniles placed in solitary confinement in Broome County's jail, in Binghamton, NY. Both named plaintiffs were 17-year-old boys held in solitary confinement at the time of filing; each had multiple disciplinary isolation sanctions issued during their detention. They brought this action against the Broome County Sheriff, Chief Jail Administrator, and Deputy Jail Administrator, as well as the Chenango Valley School District, which lies within Broome County. The plaintiffs alleged that the conditions of solitary confinement and poor physical conditions increased their risk of future psychological harm. Plaintiffs with mental disabilities were alleged to be particularly at-risk members of the class. Additionally, the plaintiffs claimed that defendants denied juveniles in solitary confinement educational instruction and therefore denied them their due process rights. The claim arose under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The complaint sought class certification of all present and future members, with subclasses of those members with mental and physical disabilities; declaratory relief that the defendants' actions violated the plaintiffs' Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights; all necessary and appropriate injunctive relief; and attorneys' fees and costs.

On August 8, 2017, the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint to correct the school district. At the plaintiffs' request, the case was designated by the court as related to V.W. v Conway. Conway, also brought by Legal Services of Central New York, made substantially similar factual and legal claims. The complaint in that case challenged solitary confinement practices imposed on juveniles at the Onondaga Justice Center and alleged that the local school district failed to provide adequate educational instruction to juveniles held in solitary confinement.

In November 2017, Magistrate Judge David E. Peebles ordered the case to mediation. He set a deadline for February 2018. By that time, the plaintiffs and the Chenango School District reached an interim settlement agreement. The District agreed to provide sufficient staff, special education teachers, and evaluations to juvenile students at the jail. The court (Judge David N. Hurd) then dismissed claims against the school district except as to attorneys' fees and costs (which were later resolved in March). Otherwise, the mandatory mediation did not bring resolution to the case.

On April 4, 2018, Judge Hurd issued a decision and order granting a preliminary injunction against the Sheriff's office, and certified the requested class. The class certified was composed of all 16- and 17-year-olds who are now or will be incarcerated at Broome County Correctional Facility, with two additional subclasses: (1) a subclass of all 16-and 17-year-olds with disabilities as defined under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act who are now or will be incarcerated at the Broome County Correctional Facility, who are in need of special education services, and (2) a subclass of all 16- and 17-year-olds with psychiatric and/or intellectual disabilities, as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, who are now or will be incarcerated at the Broome County Correctional Facility, who are at risk of being placed in disciplinary segregation because of their disability. After dismissing claims against the Deputy Administrator, the court enjoined the remaining defendants by barring them from locking juveniles in cells unless they posed an immediate risk to the facility. Solitary confinement would be permitted only when other means of disciplinary action proved inadequate, and was limited to no more than four hours per day. The court also ordered that the defendants provide mental health and psychiatric services and a minimum of three hours of educational instruction per day. 298 F.Supp.3d 391.

In May 2018, the parties began settlement discussions. As of May 31, the parties had apparently circulated a proposed settlement agreement (though it was not available publicly), but not yet resolved the issue of attorneys' costs and fees. The matter remained pending.

Chelsea Rinnig - 06/19/2018


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process
Content of Injunction
Other requirements regarding hiring, promotion, retention
Preliminary relief granted
Recordkeeping
Remedial education
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Disability
Mental impairment
General
Administrative segregation
Conditions of confinement
Confinement/isolation
Disciplinary procedures
Disciplinary segregation
Education
Juveniles
Special education
Medical/Mental Health
Mental health care, general
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
Indv. w/ Disab. Educ. Act (IDEA), Educ. of All Handcpd. Children Act , 20 U.S.C. § 1400
Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701
Defendant(s) Broome County Sheriff's Office
Chenango Valley Central School District
Plaintiff Description 16- and 17-year-old juveniles placed in solitary confinement. Sub-classes of juveniles with mental and physical disabilities.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Legal Services/Legal Aid
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Settlement
None yet
Order Duration 2018 - n/a
Filing Year 2017
Case Ongoing Yes
Case Listing JI-NY-0010 : V.W. v. Conway (N.D.N.Y.)
Docket(s)
9:17-cv-00817 (N.D.N.Y.)
JI-NY-0011-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/31/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
JI-NY-0011-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/25/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amended Complaint [ECF# 7]
JI-NY-0011-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/08/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Decision and Order (designating cases as related) [ECF# 18] (N.D.N.Y.)
JI-NY-0011-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/28/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Stipulation and Order for an Interim Settlement Agreement [ECF# 52]
JI-NY-0011-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/09/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Decision and Order [ECF# 62] (298 F.Supp.3d 391) (N.D.N.Y.)
JI-NY-0011-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 04/04/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Hurd, David N. (N.D.N.Y.)
JI-NY-0011-0003 | JI-NY-0011-0004 | JI-NY-0011-0005 | JI-NY-0011-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Cotter, Joshua T. (New York)
JI-NY-0011-0001 | JI-NY-0011-0002 | JI-NY-0011-9000
Haddad, George B. (New York)
JI-NY-0011-9000
Young, Samuel C (New York)
JI-NY-0011-0001 | JI-NY-0011-0002 | JI-NY-0011-9000
Young, Susan M. (New York)
JI-NY-0011-0001 | JI-NY-0011-0002 | JI-NY-0011-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Behnke, Robert G. (New York)
JI-NY-0011-9000
Militello, Christopher M. (New York)
JI-NY-0011-9000
Miller, Frank W. (New York)
JI-NY-0011-9000

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