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Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Bryant v. Federal Bureau of Prisons PC-CA-0077
Docket / Court 2:11-cv-00254 ( C.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Prison Conditions
Case Summary
On January 7, 2011, a prisoner in the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons at Victorville filed this complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The plaintiff, a hearing-disabled adult, sued the Federal Bureau of Prisons under the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § ... read more >
On January 7, 2011, a prisoner in the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons at Victorville filed this complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The plaintiff, a hearing-disabled adult, sued the Federal Bureau of Prisons under the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 794. Represented by private counsel, the plaintiff claimed that the Federal Bureau of Prisons had violated the Rehabilitation Act by failing to provide reasonable accommodations for the plaintiff’s hearing disability, and also alleged violations of his First, Fifth, and Eighth Amendment rights. The plaintiff sought injunctive and declaratory relief.

The plaintiff alleged that, despite his numerous requests through the Bureau of Prisons’s administrative relief process, he had been denied access to several accommodations that would enable him to communicate effectively and live more safely within the custody of the Bureau of Prisons. These accommodations included: access to a qualified American Sign Language interpreter, since the plaintiff did not read lips and had difficulty reading and writing; a non-aural notification system, such as a vibrating pager, so that the plaintiff could be alerted as to announcements and emergency situations occurring in the prison; access to closed-captioning on television; functioning hearing aids and replacement batteries; and access to a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) or videophone. The plaintiff also alleged that he had been arbitrarily placed in restrictive housing (the SHU) for failing to communicate and for failure to respond to announcements, despite his repeated assertions that he could not hear them.

The defendants moved to dismiss the complaint on May 31, 2011, responding that the plaintiff had not exhausted his administrative remedies through the prison system as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act. Judge Christina A. Snyder granted in part and denied in part the defendants’ motion on July 11, 2011, finding that the plaintiff had not exhausted his administrative remedies, but staying the constitutional claims until the conclusion of an administration determination of the merits on the Rehabilitation Act claims. 2011 WL 13261983.

The plaintiff’s claims then went before Administrative Law Judge Ellen K. Thomas. The hearing, a Bureau of Prisons Equal Employment Opportunity hearing, was originally scheduled for April 12, 2012, but the Bureau of Prisons failed to provide the plaintiff with a qualified American Sign Language interpreter as he requested, so the hearing was rescheduled to July 31. While the administrative hearing procedures continued, the parties conducted three separate, unsuccessful, settlement negotiations.

On September 4, 2013, the Bureau of Prisons Equal Employment Opportunity hearing concluded, finding that the Bureau of Prisons had violated the Rehabilitation Act as alleged by the plaintiff. The Bureau of Prisons's Equal Employment Opportunity Officer issued a Letter of Findings, which found that the Rehabilitation Act required the Bureau of Prisons to acquiesce to the plaintiff's requests and that the Bureau had violated the Rehabilitation Act by failing to do so. The final Administrative Decision ordered the Bureau of Prisons to provide the plaintiff with the requested relief.

However, the Bureau of Prisons failed to comply with all the requested relief. Notably, it failed to provide him with a qualified ASL interpreter for the GED course he attempted to take, and it failed to replace his hearing aid when it stopped working. The plaintiff therefore requested leave to file an amended complaint. Judge Snyder granted leave to file, and on December 20, 2013, the plaintiff filed a First Amended and Supplemented Complaint, containing and incorporating the results of the BOP EEO proceeding and the subsequent events. The plaintiff included, as part of this complaint, the defendants' failure to comply with the Administrative Decision, and expressed a concern in the complaint that whatever relief the defendants might provide would be short-lived and irregular.

The defendants filed a motion to change venue on February 18, 2014, arguing that venue in the District of Arizona was proper because the plaintiff, who had originally been incarcerated in Victorville, California, he had been transferred to federal prison in Tucson, Arizona in 2011. The administrative hearing before Judge Thomas had been held in Tucson, and the defendants argued that the relief sought would eventually take place in Arizona. However, on March 26, 2014, Judge Snyder denied defendants’ motion to change venue to Arizona, noting that there was no guarantee that the plaintiff would stay in Tucson and that the events giving rise to the original complaint had taken place in California. 2014 WL 1266241. Defendants then filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the plaintiff’s request for relief was moot, as the defendants had fulfilled his requests regarding his current situation in Tucson, and his request for relief from Victorville was moot since he had left that institution. Judge Snyder denied this motion as well. 2014 WL 2472255.

The parties continued to hold regular settlement conferences, which continued to be unsuccessful. The parties began conducting pretrial proceedings simultaneously with settlement conferences. Finally, on September 12, 2016, the parties, under the supervision of Magistrate Judge Jay C. Gandhi, met for a seventh settlement conference, which was ultimately successful. Under terms which were not disclosed in a reported filing or order, the parties agreed to accept Magistrate Gandhi’s “mediator’s proposal” and to provide the details to Judge Snyder’s Court within thirty days of the acceptance.

On March 8, 2017, Judge Snyder dismissed the case pursuant to the settlement. There has been no further docket activity, and case is presumably now closed.

Elizabeth Helpling - 10/04/2019


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process
Freedom of speech/association
Defendant-type
Corrections
Disability
Hearing impairment
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Administrative segregation
Conditions of confinement
Disciplinary segregation
Grievance Procedures
Incident/accident reporting & investigations
Language/ethnic/minority needs
Phone
Protective custody
TTY/Close Captioning/Videophone/etc.
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Ex parte Young (federal or state officials)
Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701
Defendant(s) Federal Bureau of Prisons
Warden of U.S. Penitentiary in Victorville
Plaintiff Description Incarcerated deaf individual who was denied repeated requests for hearing aid batteries, non-aural emergency alert mechanisms, the services of a certified American Sign Language interpreter, and access to a telecommunication device for the deaf and who was repeatedly confined to solitary housing in response to these requests.
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Unknown
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Filing Year 2011
Case Ongoing No reason to think so
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)
2:11-cv-00254 (C.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0077-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/08/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PC-CA-0077-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/07/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Denial in Part of Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint (Minutes) [ECF# 32] (2011 WL 13261983) (C.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0077-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 07/11/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Amended and Supplemented Complaint [ECF# 89]
PC-CA-0077-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/20/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Denial of Defendants' Motion to Change Venue to District of Arizona (Minutes) [ECF# 96] (2014 WL 1266241) (C.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0077-0005.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 03/26/2014
Denial of Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (Minutes) [ECF# 103] (2014 WL 2472255) (C.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0077-0006.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 06/02/2014
Joint Report Regarding Status of Settlement [ECF# 170]
PC-CA-0077-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/17/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order of Dismissal [ECF# 172] (C.D. Cal.)
PC-CA-0077-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/08/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Bristow, David T. (C.D. Cal.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
PC-CA-0077-9000
Snyder, Christina A. (C.D. Cal.) show/hide docs
PC-CA-0077-0005 | PC-CA-0077-0006 | PC-CA-0077-0008 | PC-CA-0077-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Culver, Rory Price (California) show/hide docs
PC-CA-0077-0001 | PC-CA-0077-0004 | PC-CA-0077-0006 | PC-CA-0077-9000
England, Brian R. (California) show/hide docs
PC-CA-0077-0007
Fitzwater, Matthew S. (New York) show/hide docs
PC-CA-0077-0001 | PC-CA-0077-9000
Gelfand, Andrew E. (New York) show/hide docs
PC-CA-0077-0004 | PC-CA-0077-0006 | PC-CA-0077-9000
Golden, Deborah Maxine (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-CA-0077-0001 | PC-CA-0077-0004 | PC-CA-0077-0007 | PC-CA-0077-9000
Kringstein, Jamie L. (New York) show/hide docs
PC-CA-0077-9000
Letson, Timothea GP. (New York) show/hide docs
PC-CA-0077-0001 | PC-CA-0077-9000
McGrory, Lauren J. (California) show/hide docs
PC-CA-0077-9000
Mendolera, Lauren R. (New York) show/hide docs
PC-CA-0077-9000
O'Flynn, Megan R. (New York) show/hide docs
PC-CA-0077-9000
Paris, Adam S (California) show/hide docs
PC-CA-0077-0001 | PC-CA-0077-0004 | PC-CA-0077-0006 | PC-CA-0077-0007 | PC-CA-0077-0008 | PC-CA-0077-9000
Shapiro, Adam M (New York) show/hide docs
PC-CA-0077-9000
Van Houter, Andrew L. (New York) show/hide docs
PC-CA-0077-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Decker, Eileen (California) show/hide docs
PC-CA-0077-0007 | PC-CA-0077-0008
Han, Chung H (California) show/hide docs
PC-CA-0077-0006 | PC-CA-0077-9000
Miller, Monica L. (California) show/hide docs
PC-CA-0077-0006 | PC-CA-0077-0007 | PC-CA-0077-0008 | PC-CA-0077-9000
Monteleone, Robyn-Marie L (California) show/hide docs
PC-CA-0077-0007 | PC-CA-0077-0008
Schouten, Dorothy A. (California) show/hide docs
PC-CA-0077-0007 | PC-CA-0077-0008

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