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Case Name Wilson v. Geerdes PC-NE-0014
Docket / Court 8:16-cv-00524 ( D. Neb. )
State/Territory Nebraska
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
On November 30, 2016, a male prisoner and a transgender female prisoner in the Lincoln Correctional Center filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska. The court granted the plaintiff’s motions to file in forma pauperis on December 29, 2016, allowing the plaintiffs ... read more >
On November 30, 2016, a male prisoner and a transgender female prisoner in the Lincoln Correctional Center filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska. The court granted the plaintiff’s motions to file in forma pauperis on December 29, 2016, allowing the plaintiffs to pay reduced court fees. The plaintiffs then filed an amended complaint suing employees of the Lincoln Correctional Center in their official capacities under 42 U.S.C. §1983. The plaintiffs, filing pro se and later appointed counsel, sought injunctive and declaratory relief, claiming violations of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses. The plaintiffs alleged that the employees at the Correctional Center interfered with their right to marry. Specifically, the plaintiffs alleged the defendants denied the plaintiffs permission to marry four times, denied the male plaintiff’s request for notary services for an affidavit required for a marriage license, and separated the plaintiffs until the male plaintiff was transferred to Nebraska State Penitentiary.

Before he was appointed counsel, the male plaintiff moved for temporary restraining orders on December 27, 2016 and January 3, 2017. Judge Richard G. Kopf denied the first motion and stayed the second until the defendants responded to the complaint. Defendants moved for to dismiss on March 29, 2017.

All pending motions were stayed on March 31, 2017, when the court appointed counsel for the plaintiffs. The court set his fees at $1,000 upon accepting the case, $1,000 upon the entry of judgment and reasonable fees to be paid out of the Federal Practice Fund. The case was removed from the pro se docket and randomly assigned to Judge Robert F. Rossiter. After several extensions, plaintiffs filed an amended complaint on October 17th, 2017. On January 23, 2018, defendants moved to consolidate the case with docket 4:18-CV-3011 because both cases involved inmates incarcerated in different facilities that wish to have the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services facilitate their marriage. Judge Cheryl R. Zwart denied the motion on March 23, 2018 because of factual differences in the cases.

After several extensions and party substitutions due to personnel changes in the Nebraska Department of Corrections, the transgender prisoner reached a settlement agreement with defendants. The State of Nebraska agreed to pay the transgender prisoner $400. The transgender prisoner's voluntary motion to dismiss was granted on January 17, 2019. Court-appointed counsel was dismissed and paid the $1,000 remainder of his stipulated fee as well as $500 for reasonable expenses.

The male plaintiff objected to the transgender prisoner's settlement and voluntary dismissal of her claims and requested appointment of replacement counsel. Magistrate Judge Cheryl R. Zwart denied both requests on February 14, 2019. The judge declined to appoint counsel because the plaintiff might no longer have a claim asserting a constitutional right to marriage if the transgender prisoner no longer wished to marry him. The male plaintiff also received a $75,000 settlement in 2014; this source of revenue had not been disclosed in his motion to proceed in forma pauperis. The male plaintiff was directed to continue pro se.

On February 12, 2019, the male plaintiff filed an objection to the dismissal filed by his former co-plaintiff, the transgender female prisoner. The male prisoner asserted that the female prisoner's counsel misrepresented her wishes. Two days later, Magistrate Judge Zwart denied his motion on the grounds that he lacked standing to challenge the dismissal of the female prisoner's case.

Both the male plaintiff and the defendants filed motions for summary judgment on March 14, 2019. Additionally, the male prisoner filed a motion for appointment of counsel, which was denied by Magistrate Judge Zwart in a July 9, 2019 opinion. 2019 WL 3006966.

After a conference with Magistrate Judge Zwart in August 2019, the defendants filed another motion for summary jugdment for failure to exhaust administrative remedies as required by the Prison Litigation Reform
Act of 1995 (“PLRA”), 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(a).

On April 10, 2020 Judge Rossiter granted the defendant's motion for summary judgment on the issue of exhaustion, and the case was dismissed without prejudice. 2020 WL 1860954. The case is now closed.

Erica Becker - 02/21/2019
Sabrina Glavota - 07/13/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Equal Protection
Defendant-type
Corrections
Discrimination-basis
Gender identity
General
Disciplinary segregation
Gay/lesbian/transgender
Marriage
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Nebraska Department of Correctional Services
Plaintiff Description A male inmate and a transgender female inmate in the Lincoln Correctional Center who sought to marry.
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se Yes
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Damages
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Voluntary Dismissal
Filed 11/30/2016
Case Closing Year 2020
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
Docket(s)
8:16-cv-00524 (D. Neb.)
PC-NE-0014-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/10/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Second Amended Complaint [ECF# 64]
PC-NE-0014-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/17/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PC-NE-0014-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/30/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Unopposed Motion to Dismiss Party Riley Nicole Shadle [ECF# 106]
PC-NE-0014-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/15/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Denying Motion to Appoint Counsel [ECF# 110] (D. Neb.)
PC-NE-0014-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/29/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order that attorney Michael D. Gooch's Motion for Payment of the Remaining Fee for Reimbursement of Actual Expenses is granted [ECF# 111] (D. Neb.)
PC-NE-0014-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/29/2019
Memorandum and Order [ECF# 133] (2019 WL 3006966) (D. Neb.)
PC-NE-0014-0006.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 07/09/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum and Order [ECF# 173] (2020 WL 1860954) (D. Neb.)
PC-NE-0014-0007.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 04/10/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Rossiter, Robert F. Jr. (D. Neb.) show/hide docs
PC-NE-0014-0005 | PC-NE-0014-0007 | PC-NE-0014-9000
Zwart, Cheryl R (D. Neb.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
PC-NE-0014-0004 | PC-NE-0014-0006 | PC-NE-0014-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Gooch, Michael D. (Nebraska) show/hide docs
PC-NE-0014-0002 | PC-NE-0014-0003 | PC-NE-0014-9000
Govaerts, Elizabeth A (Nebraska) show/hide docs
PC-NE-0014-9000
Powers, Vincent M (Nebraska) show/hide docs
PC-NE-0014-9000
Wilson, Harold B. (Nebraska) show/hide docs
PC-NE-0014-0001
Defendant's Lawyers Goins, Benjamin M. (Nebraska) show/hide docs
PC-NE-0014-9000
Lopez, David A. (Nebraska) show/hide docs
PC-NE-0014-9000
Post, Ryan S (Nebraska) show/hide docs
PC-NE-0014-9000
Rowley, Danielle L. (Nebraska) show/hide docs
PC-NE-0014-9000

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