University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Cook v. Wall PC-RI-0009
Docket / Court 09-cv-00169-S-LDA ( D.R.I. )
State/Territory Rhode Island
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
Case Summary
On April 9, 2009, an inmate at the John J. Moran correctional facility filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for Rhode Island. He sued the Rhode Island Department of Corrections under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and state law. The plaintiff alleged that he had been retaliated against for issuing a ... read more >
On April 9, 2009, an inmate at the John J. Moran correctional facility filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for Rhode Island. He sued the Rhode Island Department of Corrections under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and state law. The plaintiff alleged that he had been retaliated against for issuing a statement in a local newspaper denouncing a Department of Corrections policy that limited publications available to inmates. Specifically, he asserted that administrators fired him from his job in the prison kitchen and destroyed his personal property. The plaintiff further claimed that, when he attempted to report the retaliation to prison authorities, administrators placed him in solitary confinement and revoked his good time and a recommendation for transfer to a less restrictive facility. Represented by the ACLU of Rhode Island and private counsel, the plaintiff sought a declaratory judgment that these actions violated his First, Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. He also asked for a permanent injunction to bar further violations and for monetary damages to compensate him for his harms.

On April 28, the plaintiff filed a motion for a temporary restraining order to prohibit Department of Corrections employees from talking to him about the lawsuit and to enjoin the Department of Corrections from threatening and punishing him because of the lawsuit. But the temporary restraining order was denied by Judge William Smith on April 29. On May 29, 2009, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss.

The motion to dismiss was denied as moot because on January 25, 2010, the plaintiff filed an amended complaint, alleging that he had been transferred to a less safe cell block and placed in solitary confinement in retaliation for filing this lawsuit.

The defendants filed a new motion to dismiss the amended complaint on March 16. On June 25, Judge Smith granted a protective order staying discovery until the motion to dismiss was ruled on. Magistrate Judge Lincoln D. Almond issued a Report and Recommendations on the motion to dismiss on September 17, 2012. 2013 WL 773444. On February 28, 2013, Judge Smith adopted in part the Report and Recommendation. 2012 WL 7634322. Specifically, the court followed the magistrate judge's recommendation to dismiss the Eighth Amendment claims because the plaintiff did not allege the "wanton infliction of [physical] pain" necessary to support such a claim. The court also followed the recommendation to deny the motion to dismiss the First Amendment claim, because the plaintiff had alleged retaliation for public speech protected by the First Amendment. Judge Smith rejected the magistrate judge's recommendation to dismiss the Fourteenth Amendment Due Process claim. While no single instance alleged by the plaintiff might have risen to the level of a due process issue, Judge Smith found that the incidents taken as a whole may have violated the plaintiff's rights.

Following the ruling on the motion to dismiss, the parties engaged in discovery until February 13, 2015, when the defendants filed a motion for summary judgment. The motion was never ruled on, because the case settled on October 27, 2015. The Department of Corrections agreed, while denying liability, to pay the plaintiff $7,500 in damages and attorney’s fees. The parties stipulated to a dismissal and the case is now closed.

Brian Remlinger - 02/16/2019


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Excessive bail/fines
Freedom of speech/association
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief denied
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Administrative segregation
Classification / placement
Disciplinary procedures
Good time
Grievance Procedures
Strip search policy
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) Rhode Island Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description An inmate at the John J. Moran correctional facility in Rhode Island.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Damages
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Voluntary Dismissal
Filing Year 2009
Case Closing Year 2015
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  Jail Strip-Search Cases: Patterns and Participants
http://law.duke.edu/journals/lcp
Date: Spring 2008
By: Margo Schlanger (Washington University in St. Louis Faculty)
Citation: 71 Law & Contemp. Problems 65 (2008)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  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)
09-cv-00169-S-LDA (D.R.I.)
PC-RI-0009-9001.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/02/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PC-RI-0009-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/09/2009
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Amended Complaint for Declaratory Judgment, Injunctive Relief, and Damages [ECF# 26]
PC-RI-0009-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/25/2010
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Report and Recommendation [ECF# 40] (2012 WL 7634322) (D.R.I.)
PC-RI-0009-0002.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 09/17/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 45] (2013 WL 773444) (D.R.I.)
PC-RI-0009-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 02/28/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Almond, Lincoln D. (D.R.I.) show/hide docs
PC-RI-0009-0002 | PC-RI-0009-9001
Smith, William E. (D.R.I.) show/hide docs
PC-RI-0009-0004 | PC-RI-0009-9001
Plaintiff's Lawyers Azevedo, Jennifer (Rhode Island) show/hide docs
PC-RI-0009-0001 | PC-RI-0009-0003 | PC-RI-0009-9001
DeLuca, Amato A. (Rhode Island) show/hide docs
PC-RI-0009-0001 | PC-RI-0009-0003 | PC-RI-0009-9001
Eskey, Michael T (Rhode Island) show/hide docs
PC-RI-0009-0001 | PC-RI-0009-0003 | PC-RI-0009-9001
Goldberg, Brian N (Rhode Island) show/hide docs
PC-RI-0009-0001 | PC-RI-0009-0003 | PC-RI-0009-9001
Jerzyk, Matthew T. (Rhode Island) show/hide docs
PC-RI-0009-0001 | PC-RI-0009-0003 | PC-RI-0009-9001
Mega, Jeffrey A (Rhode Island) show/hide docs
PC-RI-0009-0001 | PC-RI-0009-0003 | PC-RI-0009-9001
Miller, Shad M (Rhode Island) show/hide docs
PC-RI-0009-0001 | PC-RI-0009-0003 | PC-RI-0009-9001
Weizenbaum, Miriam (Rhode Island) show/hide docs
PC-RI-0009-0001 | PC-RI-0009-0003 | PC-RI-0009-9001
Defendant's Lawyers Grant, Michael (Rhode Island) show/hide docs
PC-RI-0009-9001
McElroy, Kelly A (Rhode Island) show/hide docs
PC-RI-0009-9001
Partington, Rebecca Tedford (Rhode Island) show/hide docs
PC-RI-0009-9001
Shaw, Matthew I (Rhode Island) show/hide docs
PC-RI-0009-9001

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