University of Michigan Law School
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Case Name Demler v. Inch PC-FL-0031
Docket / Court 4:19-CV-0094 ( N.D. Fla. )
State/Territory Florida
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
On February 19, 2019, a man serving a life sentence in a Florida prison filed this putative class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida. The Plaintiff sued the Secretary of the Florida Department of Corrections under 42 U.S.C. §1983 and the Declaratory ... read more >
On February 19, 2019, a man serving a life sentence in a Florida prison filed this putative class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida. The Plaintiff sued the Secretary of the Florida Department of Corrections under 42 U.S.C. §1983 and the Declaratory Judgment Act. The case was ultimately assigned to Judge Robert L. Hinkle. The Plaintiff, represented by the Social Justice Law Collective and the Florida Justice Institute, sought a declaration that the Defendant had violated the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment and the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. He also sought a preliminary and permanent injunction that would restore the Plaintiff’s access while in prison to digital media files that he had previously purchased.

Specifically, the Plaintiff claimed that the Defendant violated the Plaintiff’s constitutional rights when they switched from the Digital Music Player Program to the current Multimedia Tablet Program without allowing inmates to retain their previously purchased digital media players or digital media in prison. The Defendant implemented the Digital Music Player Program in 2011 in order to provide a secure method by which prisoners could browse, select, purchase, and download digital content to MP3/MP4 players made explicitly for use by inmates in a correctional setting. Advertisements to inmates emphasized that once they purchased media, they would always own it and could delete and re-order digital media that they had purchased from a cloud-based library at no additional cost.

In 2017, the Defendant terminated its contract with the Digital Music Player Program vendor, entered into a new contract with a competing vendor, and transitioned to the Multimedia Tablet Program. Under the new program, inmates were required to purchase a new multimedia device and were required to surrender their previous digital media players, along with all the digital content they had purchased for the previous devices. Inmates had the option of sending the player/files to someone outside the prison at an additional cost, but they could no longer access the media files they had purchased while in prison. Although inmates who had participated in the Digital Music Player Program received discounts on the new program, they did not receive any other form of compensation for the taking of their digital media players and files.

Because inmates had purchased the devices and files specifically to use while in prison, the Plaintiff claimed that the Defendant’s transition to the Multimedia Tablet Program amounted to an unconstitutional taking of private property (particularly for inmates serving a life sentence who would not benefit from sending the device to family or friends outside the prison). The Plaintiff also claimed that the Defendant’s transition to the new program violated the Plaintiffs’ substantive Due Process rights; he claimed that the transition was implemented in the Defendant’s legislative capacity, was arbitrary and capricious, and had no rational basis.

The Plaintiff sought to represent a class defined as “All Florida Department of Corrections prisoners whose digital media files were taken, or will be taken, pursuant to the Multimedia Tablet Program.” As of April 2019, the Defendant has not filed an answer to his complaint, and the Court has not addressed the class certification or reached the merits of the case.

Sara Stearns - 04/05/2019


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Takings
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Conditions of confinement
Grievance Procedures
Loss or damage to property
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) Mark Inch
Plaintiff Description Florida prison inmates harmed by the Florida Department of Correction's transition between digital media programs
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Pending
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 2019
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)
4:19-CV-0094 (N.D. Fla.)
PC-FL-0031-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/08/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief [ECF# 1]
PC-FL-0031-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/19/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Hinkle, Robert Lewis (N.D. Fla.) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0031-9000
Jones, Gary R. (N.D. Fla.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
PC-FL-0031-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Glickman, Joshua Aaron (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0031-0001 | PC-FL-0031-9000
Heller, Shawn Alex (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0031-0001 | PC-FL-0031-9000
Taseff, Ray (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0031-0001 | PC-FL-0031-9000
Trevisani, Dante Pasquale (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0031-0001 | PC-FL-0031-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Olivella, Miguel A. Jr. (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0031-9000

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