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Case Name Liberty v. Rhode Island Department of Corrections PC-RI-0010
Docket / Court 1:19-cv-00573 ( D.R.I. )
State/Territory Rhode Island
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Prison Conditions
Special Collection Solitary confinement
Attorney Organization ACLU National Prison Project
Case Summary
On October 25, 2019, detainees with serious and persistent mental illness who were held in solitary confinement—many for prolonged periods of time—filed this lawsuit along with Disability Rights Rhode Island, the state Protection and Advocacy Agency, in the U.S. District Court for the District ... read more >
On October 25, 2019, detainees with serious and persistent mental illness who were held in solitary confinement—many for prolonged periods of time—filed this lawsuit along with Disability Rights Rhode Island, the state Protection and Advocacy Agency, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island. The plaintiffs sued the Rhode Island Department of Corrections and its officers under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. The plaintiffs, represented by Disability Rights Rhode Island and the ACLU National Prison Project, sought class certification and injunctive relief to stop defendants from subjecting them to unconstitutional policies and conditions. The plaintiffs claimed that subjecting hundreds of people to prolonged solitary confinement in tiny, frequently filthy cells where they are kept locked down for 22-24 hours a day for weeks, months, and even years at a time exacerbate prisoners’ mental illness, deprive them of basic human needs, and put them at a substantial risk of serious harm and injury in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. Additionally, plaintiffs claimed that prisoners with disabilities do not have access to or are otherwise denied the benefits of defendants’ programs, services, and activities in violation of the ADA because the are placed into unnecessary solitary confinement—thereby foreclosing their ability to participate. By incarcerating prisoners and detainees with serious and persistent mental illness in solitary confinement, plaintiffs also claimed that defendants failed to meet their obligations under the Rehabilitation Act to provide the most integrated setting appropriate.

On October 28, the case was assigned to Chief Judge William E. Smith. On January 3, 2020, defendants filed their answer along with numerous affirmative defenses, including arguments that the plaintiffs failed to allege sufficient facts to state a claim, that defendants were immune under the Eleventh Amendment and qualified immunity, and that some or all plaintiffs had failed to exhaust their claims.

On February 10, the case was reassigned to Chief Judge John R. McConnell Jr., who replaced Judge Smith as Chief Judge in December of 2019. The case ongoing.

Claire Shimberg - 05/06/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process
Defendant-type
Corrections
Disability
Mental impairment
General
Administrative segregation
Bathing and hygiene
Conditions of confinement
Sanitation / living conditions
Solitary confinement/Supermax (conditions or process)
Medical/Mental Health
Intellectual disability/mental illness dual diagnosis
Mental health care, general
Suicide prevention
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
State Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701
Defendant(s) Rhode Island Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description Prisoners and detainees with serious and persistent mental illness who were held in solitary confinement and Disability Rights Rhode Island.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU National Prison Project
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status outcome Pending
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filed 10/25/2019
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
Court Docket(s)
D.R.I.
03/25/2020
1:19-cv-573
PC-RI-0010-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
D.R.I.
10/25/2019
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PC-RI-0010-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
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Judges McConnell, John James Jr. (D.R.I.) show/hide docs
PC-RI-0010-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Adae, Brian (Rhode Island) show/hide docs
PC-RI-0010-0001 | PC-RI-0010-9000
Fettig, Amy (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-RI-0010-0001 | PC-RI-0010-9000
Kuhlik, Lauren (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-RI-0010-0001 | PC-RI-0010-9000
Mulready, Anne M. (Rhode Island) show/hide docs
PC-RI-0010-0001 | PC-RI-0010-9000
Rollins, James S (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
PC-RI-0010-9000
Uiterwyk, Patrick T. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
PC-RI-0010-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Baum, Brenda D. (Rhode Island) show/hide docs
PC-RI-0010-9000
Field, Michael W. (Rhode Island) show/hide docs
PC-RI-0010-9000

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