University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Briggs v. Mass. Dept. of Corrections PC-MA-0046
Docket / Court 1:15-cv-40162 ( D. Mass. )
State/Territory Massachusetts
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Attorney Organization Washington Lawyers' Committee
Case Summary
On November 24th, 2015, several inmates filed a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. The plaintiffs sued the Massachusetts Department of Correction and the Massachusetts Partnership for Correctional Healthcare under the Americans with Disabilities Act (4 ... read more >
On November 24th, 2015, several inmates filed a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. The plaintiffs sued the Massachusetts Department of Correction and the Massachusetts Partnership for Correctional Healthcare under the Americans with Disabilities Act (42 U.S.C § 12131), the Rehabilitation Act (29 U.S.C. § 794), 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violations of the First and Fourteenth Amendment rights, and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (42 U.S.C. §§ 2000CC-1 et seq.). The plaintiffs, represented by a combination of Prisoners' Legal Services, Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights & Urban Affairs, and private counsel, sought declaratory and injunctive relief on behalf of themselves and other similarly situated persons. The plaintiffs claimed that the Massachusetts Department of Correction failed to provide interpreters, appropriate assistive technology, and accommodations to deaf or hard of hearing prisoners over the course of nearly a decade.

Specifically, plaintiffs claimed that the Massachusetts Department of Correction and the Massachusetts Partnership for Correctional Healthcare denied them the resources and accommodations to which they were entitled under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Plaintiffs alleged that they were denied technology such as teletypewriters and videophones that would make communicating with family possible. One named plaintiff, alleged that because of the denial of assistive technology, she has not spoken to her family in several years. Plaintiffs also alleged that the lack of interpreters and accessible materials prevented them from engaging in programs that would allow them to earn good time. Finally, plaintiffs allege that over the course of the past decade, they have been denied any meaningful access to healthcare, allegedly waiting nearly two years for a hearing aid replacement and not being able to communicate with doctors when plaintiffs were taken to a doctor for care.

On March 4th, 2016, the plaintiffs filed a motion for a class certification, which was denied without prejudice on June 29th, 2016 for being premature. On August 1st, 2016, Judge O'Toole set dates by which discovery should complete. However, following the discovery process, in 2018, parties began the negotiation process. The judge granted a stay in proceedings until parties finish the negotiation process. The case remains open.

Raul Noguera-McElroy - 02/08/2019


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
Disability
Hearing impairment
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Good time
Recreation / Exercise
Religious programs / policies
TTY/Close Captioning/Videophone/etc.
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
Religious Freedom Rest. Act/Religious Land Use and Inst. Persons Act (RFRA/RLUIPA)
Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701
Defendant(s) CAROL HIGGINS O’BRIEN, COMMISSIONER OF THE MASSACHUSETTS DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION
Plaintiff Description Plaintiffs are deaf or hard of hearing prisoners in the Massachusetts Department of Corrections.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Washington Lawyers' Committee
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filing Year 2015
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)
1:15-cv-40162 (D. Mass.)
PC-MA-0046-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/31/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PC-MA-0046-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/24/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Denying Motion to Certify Class [ECF# 42] (D. Mass.)
PC-MA-0046-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/29/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Dein, Judith Gail (D. Mass.) [Magistrate]
PC-MA-0046-9000
O'Toole, George A. Jr. (D. Mass.)
PC-MA-0046-0002 | PC-MA-0046-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Durkin, William J. (Massachusetts)
PC-MA-0046-9000
Fornaci, Phillip Jerome (District of Columbia)
PC-MA-0046-9000
Gargiulo, Rachel L. (Massachusetts)
PC-MA-0046-9000
Golden, Deborah Maxine (District of Columbia)
PC-MA-0046-0001 | PC-MA-0046-9000
Keider, Jocelyn M. (Massachusetts)
PC-MA-0046-9000
Kosan, Lindsay (Massachusetts)
PC-MA-0046-9000
Lavin, Alexandra B. (Massachusetts)
PC-MA-0046-9000
Lewis, Jessica L. (Massachusetts)
PC-MA-0046-9000
Mackey, Katherine V. (Massachusetts)
PC-MA-0046-9000
Matos, Elizabeth D. (Massachusetts)
PC-MA-0046-0001 | PC-MA-0046-9000
Mincberg, Elliot M. (District of Columbia)
PC-MA-0046-0001
Moskowitz, Seth (Massachusetts)
PC-MA-0046-9000
Pirozzolo, Lisa J. (Massachusetts)
PC-MA-0046-0001 | PC-MA-0046-9000
Porter, Alathea E. (Massachusetts)
PC-MA-0046-0001 | PC-MA-0046-9000
Pritchard, Tatum A. (Massachusetts)
PC-MA-0046-0001 | PC-MA-0046-9000
Defendant's Lawyers D'Angelo, Dennis N (Massachusetts)
PC-MA-0046-9000
DiGangi, Thomas Vincent (Massachusetts)
PC-MA-0046-9000
Dray−Siegel, Anna Rachel (Massachusetts)
PC-MA-0046-9000
Hanson, Kirk G. (Massachusetts)
PC-MA-0046-9000

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