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Case Name Brown v. Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services PC-MD-0014
Docket / Court 1:16-cv-00945 ( D. Md. )
State/Territory Maryland
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Prison Conditions
Case Summary
Nine current and former inmates at Roxbury Correctional Institute who are blind brought a discrimination lawsuit against the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. One individual inmate filed his complaint on March 30, 2016, ... read more >
Nine current and former inmates at Roxbury Correctional Institute who are blind brought a discrimination lawsuit against the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. One individual inmate filed his complaint on March 30, 2016, and five days later this case was consolidated with eight other cases. The plaintiffs, represented by the National Federation of the Blind and Prisoner Rights Information System of Maryland, alleged that the defendants had violated the prisoners' Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights, that the defendants had violated Titles II and IV of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The plaintiffs, bringing this action under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983, sought declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as compensatory and punitive damages, and attorney's fees. The case was assigned to Judge Richard D. Bennett.

The plaintiffs filed an amended complaint on September 7, 2016. This complaint alleged that the defendants discriminated against the plaintiffs because they were blind. Specifically, the plaintiffs were denied access to the courts and grievances process. The complaint alleged that prison employees retaliated against inmates who assisted the blind inmates with he grievances process, which the plaintiffs alleged was also discrimination on the basis of the plaintiff's blindness. Additionally, the defendants did not provide the plaintiffs with reasonable auxiliary aids or services that would have allowed the plaintiffs to navigate through the prison and read and write independently. The defendants also discriminated against blind inmates by refusing to provide them with competent literacy instruction. The defendants failed to provide access to the services, benefits, activities, programs, and privileges available to other inmates. The complaint alleges that the plaintiffs have suffered physical and sexual abuse as a result of the defendants discriminatory policies and practices. The complaint alleges that the defendants did not consider the safety concerns of blind inmates when double celling prisoners.

The case was referred to Magistrate Judge Stephanie A Gallagher for Settlement on January 31, 2018. A number of settlement conferences were held in 2018, but the parties were unable to reach an agreement. On December 21, 2018 the case was referred to Magistrate Judge Beth P. Gesner for all discovery. There were a number of discovery disputes and many of the documents in this case were filed under seal and inaccessible on PACER.

On January 10, 2019, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. On March 18, the defendants filed a motion for summary judgment and the plaintiffs filed a motion for partial summary judgment. The motions for summary judgment were filed under seal. A hearing was held before Judge Bennet on April 24, 2019 on these motions. Judge Bennett issued an opinion on May 13, 2019. Judge Bennett denied as moot the defendants' motion to dismiss, denied the plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment, and granted in part and denied in part the defendants motion for summary judgment. Summary judgment was entered in favor of the defendants as to Count I (denial of access to courts in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment) and Count II (subjecting the plaintiffs to serious harm and a risk of serious harm in violation of the Eighth Amendment) of the plaintiff's amended complaint. Count III (discrimination against the plaintiffs on the basis of blindness in violation of the ADA) and Count IV (discrimination against the plaintiffs because of blindness in violation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act) survived and litigation would continue on these claims. 383 F.Supp.3d 519 (May 13, 2019, D. Md.). Judge Bennett also issued an order and judgment on the same day that reiterated the conclusions of the opinion.

Back in March of 2019 the plaintiffs filed a motion and an amended motion for sanctions under Rule 37(b)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. A motion hearing was held on the motion for sanctions before before Magistrate Judge Beth P. Gesner on March 11, 2019. The next day, Magistrate Judge Gesner issued an order denying the motion for sanctions.

Between March and May of 2019, the plaintiffs filed numerous motions for a writ of habeas corpus. No decisions were made on these motions, and they were eventually withdrawn due to settlement negotiations.

On May 20, 2019 the plaintiffs and the defendants filed a joint motion for stay because the parties had engaged in negotiations and reached a settlement agreement. The motion to stay was granted by Judge Bennett two days later.

In May 2019, the parties reached a settlement agreement for $1.4 million in damages and attorneys fees. The settlement requires the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS) will modify prison procedures and provide assistive technology for the blind to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other applicable laws. DPSCS will implement several corrective measures, such as computers that convert text to voice, assigning blind prisoners to single cells, providing Braille instructors and other instruction that will allow blind prisoners to live and learn independently, making educational materials available on tape, and assigning counselors to assist blind inmates with legal materials, medical requests, and mail.

On June 6, 2019 the parties filed a stipulation of dismissal. Judge Bennett signed an order granting the dismissal the same day. The case is now closed.

Sabrina Glavota - 07/31/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Male
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process
Due Process: Procedural Due Process
Content of Injunction
Discrimination Prohibition
Hire
Reasonable Accommodation
Training
Defendant-type
Corrections
Jurisdiction-wide
Disability
Visual impairment
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Access to public accommodations - governmental
Assault/abuse by residents/inmates/students
Assault/abuse by staff
Barrier Removal
Classification / placement
Conditions of confinement
Confidentiality
Education
Effective Communication (ADA)
Grievance Procedures
Law library access
Mail
Pattern or Practice
Personal injury
Reasonable Accommodations
Rehabilitation
Special education
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Plaintiff Type
Private 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.
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701
Defendant(s) Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services
Plaintiff Description Nine current and former blind inmates in Maryland prisons
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Settlement
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Voluntary Dismissal
Filed 03/30/2016
Case Closing Year 2019
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Docket(s)
1:16-cv-00945-RDB (D. Md.)
PC-MD-0014-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/06/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Motion for Appointment of Counsel [ECF# 1]
PC-MD-0014-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/30/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 2] (D. Md.)
PC-MD-0014-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/04/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Motion for Appointment of Counsel [ECF# 3]
PC-MD-0014-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/04/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Motion for Appointment of Counsel [ECF# 3-1]
PC-MD-0014-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/04/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Motion for Appointment of Counsel [ECF# 3-2]
PC-MD-0014-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/04/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Motion for Appointment of Counsel [ECF# 3-3]
PC-MD-0014-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/04/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Motion for Appointment of Counsel [ECF# 3-4]
PC-MD-0014-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/04/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Motion for Appointment of Counsel [ECF# 3-5]
PC-MD-0014-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/04/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Motion for Appointment of Counsel [ECF# 3-6]
PC-MD-0014-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/04/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Motion for Appointment of Counsel [ECF# 3-7]
PC-MD-0014-0010.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/04/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Motion for Appointment of Counsel [ECF# 3-8]
PC-MD-0014-0011.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/04/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Amended Complaint [ECF# 23]
PC-MD-0014-0012.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/07/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Dismissing Claims as to One Plaintiff [ECF# 153] (D. Md.)
PC-MD-0014-0013.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/12/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order From Magistrate Judge [ECF# 153] (D. Md.)
PC-MD-0014-0014.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/12/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum to Counsel [ECF# 163]
PC-MD-0014-0015.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/15/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion [ECF# 230] (383 F.Supp.3d 519) (D. Md.)
PC-MD-0014-0016.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 05/13/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order and Judgment [ECF# 231] (D. Md.)
PC-MD-0014-0017.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/13/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Settlement Agreement [ECF# 24]
PC-MD-0014-0019.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/05/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Stipulation of Dismissal [ECF# 239]
PC-MD-0014-0018.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/06/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Exhibit 1 to Settlement Agreement
PC-MD-0014-0020.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/15/2019
show all people docs
Judges Bennett, Richard D. (D. Md.) show/hide docs
PC-MD-0014-0002 | PC-MD-0014-0016 | PC-MD-0014-0017 | PC-MD-0014-9000
Gallagher, Stephanie Agli (D. Md.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
PC-MD-0014-9000
Gesner, Beth P. (D. Md.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
PC-MD-0014-0013 | PC-MD-0014-0014 | PC-MD-0014-0015
Plaintiff's Lawyers Dorsey, Damien (Maryland) show/hide docs
PC-MD-0014-0012 | PC-MD-0014-0018 | PC-MD-0014-9000
Fetter, James T (Maryland) show/hide docs
PC-MD-0014-0018 | PC-MD-0014-9000
Goldstein, Daniel F (Maryland) show/hide docs
PC-MD-0014-0012 | PC-MD-0014-9000
Graber, Abigail (Maryland) show/hide docs
PC-MD-0014-0018 | PC-MD-0014-9000
Hill, Eve Lynne (Maryland) show/hide docs
PC-MD-0014-0018 | PC-MD-0014-9000
Meehan, Stephen Z (Maryland) show/hide docs
PC-MD-0014-0012 | PC-MD-0014-0018 | PC-MD-0014-9000
Treem, Joshua R (Maryland) show/hide docs
PC-MD-0014-0012 | PC-MD-0014-9000
Weber, Jessica P (Maryland) show/hide docs
PC-MD-0014-0018 | PC-MD-0014-0019 | PC-MD-0014-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Arnquist, Lisa O Mara (Maryland) show/hide docs
PC-MD-0014-0018 | PC-MD-0014-9000
Doyle, Michael O Connor (Maryland) show/hide docs
PC-MD-0014-0018 | PC-MD-0014-9000
Katz, Jennifer L (Maryland) show/hide docs
PC-MD-0014-0018 | PC-MD-0014-9000
Kelly, Chelsea Teresa (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-MD-0014-9000
Lane-Weber, Stephanie (Maryland) show/hide docs
PC-MD-0014-9000
Leovy, John Mark (Maryland) show/hide docs
PC-MD-0014-0018 | PC-MD-0014-9000
Lustila, Kirstin (Maryland) show/hide docs
PC-MD-0014-0018 | PC-MD-0014-9000
Scott, Robert A. (Maryland) show/hide docs
PC-MD-0014-0018 | PC-MD-0014-9000

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