University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Disability Law Center v. State of Utah JC-UT-0006
Docket / Court 2:15-cv-00645 ( D. Utah )
State/Territory Utah
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Special Collection Post-WalMart decisions on class certification
Case Summary
On September 8, 2015, Disability Law Center (DLC), a non-profit organization that advocates on behalf of individuals with disabilities, and three individuals who were charged for criminal offenses but declared incompetent to stand trial filed this class-action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for ... read more >
On September 8, 2015, Disability Law Center (DLC), a non-profit organization that advocates on behalf of individuals with disabilities, and three individuals who were charged for criminal offenses but declared incompetent to stand trial filed this class-action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah. The plaintiffs sued Utah, the Utah Department of Human service, the Utah Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health and Utah State Hospital (USH) under 42 U.S.C. §1983. The plaintiffs (represented by the DLC’s attorney) claimed that the defendants violated their rights under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and the comparable Utah constitutional provisions. They sought a declaratory judgment and injunctive order.

Specifically, the plaintiffs alleged that criminal defendants who were declared incompetence in Utah were required to wait for an average of 6 months in county jails without appropriate treatment until they could receive competency restoration treatment at USH because UHS, the only treatment provider was over-capacity. While these defendants were waiting for the competency restoration treatment, they were often placed in protective custody or solitary confinement. Each named plaintiff had waited in a county jail for 5 to 6 months until the admission to USH.

The defendants moved to dismiss the complaint on October 30, 2015. On April 7, 2016, District Judge Robert J. Shelby denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss, holding that a pretrial detention amounted to punishment and thus violated the plaintiffs' substantive due process rights when such detention was not reasonably related to the government interest. 180 F.Supp.3d 998, 2016.

On September 17, 2015, the plaintiffs sought class certification of those who were and would be waiting for the competency restoration treatment in a county jail. Judge Shelby granted the Plaintiff’s motion on September 27. The court defined the certified class as:
All individuals who are now, or will be in the future, (a) charged with a crime in Utah, (b) are determined by the court which they are charged to be mentally incompetent to stand trial, and (c) are ordered to the custody of the executive director of DHS or a designee for the purpose of treatment intended to restore the defendant to competency but remain housed in a Utah county jail.

The defendants filed a petition for permission to appeal this order on October 12, 2016. The U.S. Court of Appeals Tenth Circuit denied the petition. (Circuit Judges Mary Beck Briscoe, BRISCOE, Harris L. Hartz, and Nancy L. Mortiz).

On June 12, 2017, the parties moved to have the court appoint a monitor, approve their settlement agreement, and stay the proceedings. The settlement involved comprehensive injunctive relief to class members. The defendants agreed to transmit a monthly Status Report to the designated monitor and the DLC; conduct screening of the mentally incompetent detainee within 72 hours after DHS received the Custody Order of them; gradually reduce the maximum allowable wait time to 14 days by March 31, 2019; establish the offsite forensic facilities to provide treatment to the class members outside of USH; and implement an outreach program to treat class members in detention facilities. The court retained the jurisdiction over the implementation and enforcement of this agreement for 5 years. Each party agreed to bear their own attorney’s fee. On July 12, 2017, Judge Shelby approved the settlement. The monitoring was set to continue until July 12, 2022.

As of February 2019, the settlement agreement is still in place and the case is ongoing, although there has been no further litigation since the settlement was implemented.

Chiaki Nojiri - 02/01/2019


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Content of Injunction
Goals (e.g., for hiring, admissions)
Monitoring
Recordkeeping
Reporting
Required disclosure
Defendant-type
Law-enforcement
Disability
Mental impairment
General
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Administrative segregation
Conditions of confinement
Rehabilitation
Solitary confinement/Supermax (conditions or process)
Totality of conditions
Medical/Mental Health
Mental health care, general
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Utah Department of Human Services
Plaintiff Description All individuals who are now, or will be in the future, (a)charged with a crime in Utah, (b)are determined by the court in which they are charged to be mentally incompetent to stand trial, and (c)are ordered to the custody of the executive directors of DHS or a designee for the purpose of treatment intended to restore the defendant to competency bt remain housed in a Utah county jail.
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Mixed
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Declaratory Judgment
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2017 - 2022
Filing Year 2015
Case Ongoing Yes
Docket(s)
2:15-cv-00645 (D. Utah)
JC-UT-0006-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/25/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 2] (2015 WL 5258692)
JC-UT-0006-0001.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 09/08/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Decision and Order [ECF# 51] (180 F.Supp.3d 998) (D. Utah)
JC-UT-0006-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 04/07/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Decision and Order [ECF# 71] (2016 WL 5396681) (D. Utah)
JC-UT-0006-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 09/27/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Joint MOTION Appointment of Monitor , Joint MOTION for Settlement Approval of Settlement Agreement, Joint MOTION to Stay Proceedings filed by Plaintiffs S. B., Disability Law Center, A. U., S. W. [ECF# 85]
JC-UT-0006-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/12/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Shelby, Robert James (D. Utah) show/hide docs
JC-UT-0006-0002 | JC-UT-0006-0003 | JC-UT-0006-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Evans, Bret R. (Utah) show/hide docs
JC-UT-0006-0004 | JC-UT-0006-9000
Fields, Jared C. (Utah) show/hide docs
JC-UT-0006-9000
Kinikini, Aaron M. (Utah) show/hide docs
JC-UT-0006-0001 | JC-UT-0006-0004 | JC-UT-0006-9000
Sullivan, Alan L. (Utah) show/hide docs
JC-UT-0006-0001 | JC-UT-0006-0004 | JC-UT-0006-9000
Sullivan, Erin B. (Utah) show/hide docs
JC-UT-0006-0004 | JC-UT-0006-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Douglas, Parker (Utah) show/hide docs
JC-UT-0006-9000
Green, Tyler R. (Utah) show/hide docs
JC-UT-0006-9000
Thompson, Laura K. (Utah) show/hide docs
JC-UT-0006-9000
Wolf, David N (Utah) show/hide docs
JC-UT-0006-9000

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