On June 30, 1995, five inmates at the Lake County Jail in Polson, Montana, filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. §1983 against representatives of the county in the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana. The plaintiffs, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging that their constitutional rights had been violated by overcrowding, poor maintenance of physical facilities, understaffing, poor classification procedures, failure to protect, inadequate religious exercise, lack of exercise, inadequate recreation, inadequate medical care, and inadequate dental care.
On October 24, 1996, the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana (Judge Charles C. Lovell) entered a consent decree, which dealt with the areas of overcrowding, single celling, staffing, exercise, recreation, clothing, laundry, bedding, sanitation, hygiene, lighting, heating, ventilation, noise, fire protection, inmate security, classification, visitation, mail, telephone privileges, religious exercise, law library access, food services, medical care, and dental care. The court then dismissed the case.
On October 30, 1997, the plaintiffs asked the district court to hold the defendants in contempt for failure to comply with the terms of the consent decree. The defendants acknowledged that they had failed to comply with a number of the decree's requirements, and they agreed to fix those problems. On April 27, 1999, the plaintiffs again asked the district court to hold the defendants in contempt for failure to comply with the consent decree in the areas of staffing, medical record keeping, lighting, plumbing, and fire safety.
Upon improvements in these areas, the plaintiffs agreed to dismiss the contempt actions. On December 16, 1999, the parties also dismissed the underlying consent decree, executing a private settlement agreement in its stead. The plaintiffs asked the district court to award them attorneys fees, and on April 4, 2000, the district court (Magistrate Judge Richard F. Cebull) awarded the requested fees to the plaintiffs. Lozeau v. Lake County, Montana, 98 F.Supp.2d 1157 (D.Mont. 2000).Kristen Sagar - 10/07/2006
Jessica Kincaid - 07/14/2014