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Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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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 inmate and a transgender female inmate 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 ... read more >
On November 30, 2016, a male inmate and a transgender female inmate 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 inmate reached a settlement agreement with defendants. The State of Nebraska agreed to pay the transgender inmate $400. The transgender inmate’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 inmate’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 inmate 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. As of February 25, 2019, this case is ongoing.

Erica Becker - 02/21/2019


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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
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)
8:16-cv-00524 (D. Neb.)
PC-NE-0014-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/30/2016
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
show all people docs
Judges Rossiter, Robert F. Jr. (D. Neb.) show/hide docs
PC-NE-0014-0005
Zwart, Cheryl R (D. Neb.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
PC-NE-0014-0004 | 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
Wilson, Harold B. (Nebraska) show/hide docs
PC-NE-0014-0001 | PC-NE-0014-9000
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

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