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Case Name Mathis v. GEO Group, Inc. PC-NC-0017
Docket / Court 2:08-ct-00021 ( E.D.N.C. )
Additional Docket(s) 1:07-CV-01155  [ 07-1155 ]  District of DC (U.S.)
State/Territory North Carolina
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Prison Conditions
Attorney Organization Legal Services/Legal Aid
Washington Lawyers' Committee
Case Summary
This is a case about poor conditions at a North Carolina private prison. On June 28, 2007, a group of men held at the Rivers Correctional Institution in North Carolina brought this class action suit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. They sued GEO Group, Inc., the ... read more >
This is a case about poor conditions at a North Carolina private prison. On June 28, 2007, a group of men held at the Rivers Correctional Institution in North Carolina brought this class action suit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. They sued GEO Group, Inc., the private company that owned and operated the prison, and the United States Federal Bureau of Prisons. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, the Legal Aid Justice Center, and the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, sought declaratory, injunctive, and compensatory relief, claiming statutory violations under the Rehabilitation Act, violations of the Eighth Amendment, and negligence.

The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants were deliberately indifferent to the health and welfare of the class, that they had excluded prisoners with disabilities from other services and programs, and that they had deliberately deprived the plaintiffs of adequate medical, dental, and mental health care. For example, the named plaintiff suffered improper treatment of a cavity at Rivers and ultimately underwent emergency surgery, which removed the infection and saved his life but left him deformed and disabled. The plaintiffs also alleged that GEO Group had breached its contract with the U.S. Government, which required GEO Group to provide its prisoners with “medical services that are commensurate with community standards.”

On July 26, 2007, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss and, in the alternative, to transfer the case on the grounds that the D.C. Court lacked personal jurisdiction over GEO Group. On September 18, 2007, the United States Bureau of Prisons also filed a motion to dismiss or transfer. The plaintiffs filed a motion for class certification on September 25, 2007. Both parties filed motions for time extensions to file responses to the motions, but on February 28, 2008, Judge Ricardo M. Urbina, agreeing that “transferring the case furthers the interests of justice,” granted the defendants’ motion to transfer the case to the Eastern District of North Carolina. 535 F. Supp. 2d 83 (D.D.C. 2008). The case was then transferred to North Carolina, where it was assigned to Senior District Judge Malcolm J. Howard.

On October 24, 2008, the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint, stipulating the requests for both the class and the Disability Sub-Class (which consisted of prisoners who had been allegedly denied access to programs and services they should have been provided under the Rehabilitation Act) and demanding a jury trial. The defendants moved to strike the amended complaint on January 5, 2009, and simultaneously filed motions to dismiss the suit. On February 16, 2009, GEO Group filed a notice of subsequently decided authority, citing Judge James C. Dever’s February 13, 2009 decision dismissing a prisoner's claims to relief for failure to comply with North Carolina Rule of Civil Procedure 9(j), regarding special pleading requirements for medical malpractice. The Bureau of Prisons also filed a notice of subsequently decided authority on April 14, 2009, noting that the Fourth Circuit had affirmed a district court’s finding that the Rehabilitation Act did not apply to federal prisons.

The case was reassigned from Judge Howard to Judge James C. Dever on July 22, 2008, and Judge Dever issued three orders: denying the defendants’ motion to dismiss and their motion to strike the amended complaint, and denying without prejudice the plaintiffs’ motion for class certification. On November 9, 2009, Judge Dever granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss because two of the named plaintiffs had been released and for failure to state a claim, granting the plaintiffs leave to re-file an amended complaint. The plaintiffs filed a second amended complaint on December 9, 2009, which the defendants moved to dismiss on January 22, 2010. After a hearing on the motions conducted on January 31, the Federal Bureau of Prisons filed a motion to dismiss on February 2.

On September 29, 2010, Judge Dever granted GEO Group’s motion to dismiss and granted in part the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ motion to dismiss, largely because the plaintiffs still failed to state a claim; however, the judge gave the plaintiffs leave to file a third amended complaint. 2010 WL 3835141.

The plaintiffs accordingly filed a third amended complaint on October 25, 2010. The plaintiffs continued to allege that GEO Group “manifested a pervasive and deliberate indifference to the health needs of” the prisoners at Rivers. The complaint described ten separate prisoners who had suffered deprivation of medical care or inadequate medical care while at Rivers and who had suffered injury, hospitalization, or disability as a result.

GEO Group filed an unopposed motion to dismiss GEO Group as a defendant on November 29, 2010, noting that the Court had stated that it would dismiss the claims in the Third Amended Complaint as to GEO. The Bureau of Prisons filed a motion to dismiss on December 3, 2010.

On July 18, 2011, Judge Dever granted GEO Group’s motion to dismiss as a defendant, citing the November 9, 2009 motion to dismiss, in which GEO argued that GEO’s actions at Rivers did not qualify as government action against which Eighth Amendment claims could be raised. However, the court rejected the Bureau of Prison’s argument that the plaintiffs failed to exhaust their administrative remedies because the Bureau failed to adequately support their argument with evidence. 2011 WL 2899135.

The plaintiffs again attempted to file for class certification on August 23, 2011, against which the Bureau of Prisons filed a motion to stay while they filed a motion to dismiss one of the plaintiffs. On September 26, 2011, Judge Dever granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss one plaintiff for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, pursuant to the parties’ agreement.

The Bureau of Prisons also filed a motion for reconsideration of the court’s July 18, 2011 order. Judge Dever denied that motion on January 9, 2012, finding that the defendants failed to persuade the court that the plaintiffs had failed to exhaust administrative remedies or that precedent required the court to dismiss the case. 2012 WL 43586.

On February 23, 2012, Judge Dever denied the plaintiffs’ motion for class certification, finding that the plaintiffs failed to satisfy the commonality requirement for class certification. 2012 WL 600865. After that, a status conference was set for March 8, 2012, but before the conference could commence, the remaining named plaintiff was transferred, and the parties stipulated to dismissal on March 26, 2012. The case is now closed.

Elizabeth Helpling - 02/14/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Defendant-type
Corrections
Disability
Mental impairment
Mobility impairment
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Conditions of confinement
Personal injury
Rehabilitation
Totality of conditions
Medical/Mental Health
Dental care
HIV/AIDS
Medical care, general
Mental health care, general
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Non-government for profit
Causes of Action Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701
Defendant(s) Federal Bureau of Prisons
GEO Group, Inc.
Plaintiff Description Prisoners at the Rivers Correctional Institute in North Carolina, suffering from a variety of medical and mental inflictions
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Legal Services/Legal Aid
Washington Lawyers' Committee
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Filed 2007
Case Closing Year 2012
Case Ongoing No
Docket(s)
1:07-cv-01155 (D.D.C.)
PC-NC-0017-9001.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/02/2008
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
2:08-cv-00021 (E.D.N.C.)
PC-NC-0017-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/26/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief and for Damages [ECF# 3]
PC-NC-0017-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/28/2007
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification [ECF# 31]
PC-NC-0017-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/25/2007
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinon: Granting the Defendant's Motions to Transfer [ECF# 42] (535 F.Supp.2d 83) (D.D.C.)
PC-NC-0017-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 02/28/2008
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 88] (E.D.N.C.)
PC-NC-0017-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/30/2009
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Second Amended Complaint Jury Trial Demanded [ECF# 98]
PC-NC-0017-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/09/2009
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 122] (2010 WL 3835141) (E.D.N.C.)
PC-NC-0017-0008.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 09/29/2010
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 155] (2011 WL 2899135) (E.D.N.C.)
PC-NC-0017-0009.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 07/18/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 177] (2012 WL 43586) (E.D.N.C.)
PC-NC-0017-0011.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 01/09/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 180] (2012 WL 600865) (E.D.N.C.)
PC-NC-0017-0010.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 02/23/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Dever, James C. III (E.D.N.C.) show/hide docs
PC-NC-0017-0003 | PC-NC-0017-0008 | PC-NC-0017-0009 | PC-NC-0017-0010 | PC-NC-0017-0011 | PC-NC-0017-9000
Urbina, Ricardo M. (D.D.C.) show/hide docs
PC-NC-0017-0005
Plaintiff's Lawyers Estrada, Danielle (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-NC-0017-0001 | PC-NC-0017-0004 | PC-NC-0017-0006 | PC-NC-0017-9000 | PC-NC-0017-9001
Finkenstadt, Ivy (Virginia) show/hide docs
PC-NC-0017-9001
Fornaci, Phillip Jerome (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-NC-0017-0001 | PC-NC-0017-0004 | PC-NC-0017-0006 | PC-NC-0017-9000 | PC-NC-0017-9001
Golden, Deborah Maxine (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-NC-0017-0001 | PC-NC-0017-0004 | PC-NC-0017-0006 | PC-NC-0017-9000
Hall, Sarah M (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-NC-0017-9000
Herman, Anthony (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-NC-0017-0001 | PC-NC-0017-0004 | PC-NC-0017-0006 | PC-NC-0017-9000 | PC-NC-0017-9001
Kahl, Donald L (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-NC-0017-0001 | PC-NC-0017-0006 | PC-NC-0017-9001
Lange, Ivy (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-NC-0017-0001 | PC-NC-0017-0006
Ridings, Donald J Jr (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-NC-0017-0001 | PC-NC-0017-0004 | PC-NC-0017-0006 | PC-NC-0017-9000 | PC-NC-0017-9001
Riemann, Neil A. (North Carolina) show/hide docs
PC-NC-0017-0004 | PC-NC-0017-9000
Schattschneider, Laura E (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-NC-0017-0004 | PC-NC-0017-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Boyle, W. Ellis (North Carolina) show/hide docs
PC-NC-0017-9000
Israel, Deborah J. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-NC-0017-9001
Melnik, Karen L (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-NC-0017-9001
Numbers, Robert T II (North Carolina) show/hide docs
PC-NC-0017-9000
Renfer, R. A. Jr. (North Carolina) show/hide docs
PC-NC-0017-9000
Wyer, Kathryn L. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-NC-0017-9000 | PC-NC-0017-9001

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