University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
view search results
page permalink
Case Name Doe v. Washington State Department of Corrections PC-WA-0034
Docket / Court 4:21-cv-05059-TOR ( E.D. Wash. )
State/Territory Washington
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Attorney Organization ACLU Affiliates (any)
NDRN/Protection & Advocacy Organizations
Case Summary
Disability Rights Washington -- Washington's protection and advocacy system for persons with disabilities statewide -- and the ACLU of Washington, in collaboration with private counsel, filed this lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington on April 7, 2021. They sought to ... read more >
Disability Rights Washington -- Washington's protection and advocacy system for persons with disabilities statewide -- and the ACLU of Washington, in collaboration with private counsel, filed this lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington on April 7, 2021. They sought to prevent the Washington State Department of Corrections, as well as Stephen Sinclair, the Secretary of the Department, from releasing records, requested through Washington’s Public Records Act, that would reveal the identities and personal information of the class that they aimed to represent: transgender, non-binary, gender non-conforming, and intersex persons currently and formerly in Department of Corrections custody.

The records at issue were created as part of the risk assessment process and housing protocol required by the Prison Risk Elimination Act, and included detailed information and analysis about gender identity, sexual history and orientation, physical anatomy, history of sexual victimization, and other personal information. The release of such records, plaintiffs argued, would: create a “target list” of vulnerable people currently or previously in Department of Corrections care; deter people from disclosing information that the Department needed to keep them safe; prevent people from seeking needed medical care; and violate the fundamental right to privacy and to live a life consistent with gender identity and without harassment, discrimination, and assault.

In claims brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, plaintiffs asserted that release of the records would constitute deliberate indifference to a substantial risk of serious harm, in violation of the Eighth Amendment, and would violate their fundamental right to keep such sensitive information private without the requisite compelling government interest, in violation of the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Plaintiffs also asserted two state law claims. First, they alleged that disclosure of the records at issue would violate Article I, Section 7 of the state constitution, which prohibits the government from invading a person’s private affairs, because it would be insufficiently tailored or limited to that which is reasonably necessary to promote the state’s interest in transparency. Second, they argued that the records were exempt from disclosure under RCW 42.56.420, which permits nondisclosure when essential to protect privacy. They sought declaratory and injunctive relief.

Plaintiffs immediately sought a temporary restraining order, which the Washington State Department of Corrections did not oppose, and which Judge Thomas O. Rice granted on April 8, 2021, finding the requisite likelihood of success on the merits, that the release of records regarding confidential information relating to sexual identity and physical health constitutes a substantial irreparable injury, that maintaining the status quo would not prejudice the Department, and that the public interest weighed in favor of keeping the records confidential. 2021 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 68698. The Temporary Restraining Order was extended twice until, on May 17, 2021, the Court granted a preliminary injunction, noting, in finding a likelihood of success on the merits, the increased risk of harm to transgender inmates, and reasoning that transgender status might be a protected class. The Court again concluded that disclosure would cause irreparable injury, and that the plaintiffs’ interest in personal and public safety outweighed the Department of Corrections’ interests in disclosure. 2021 WL 2453099. On May 17, 2021, it also provisionally certified a class of: “All individuals identified as transgender, non-binary, gender non-conforming, and/or intersex in records in the possession of the Washington State Department of Corrections who are currently or were formerly incarcerated by the Washington State Department of Corrections.” 2021 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 93489. The Washington State Department of Corrections filed an interlocutory appeal of the order granting the preliminary injunction.

Tessa Bialek - 08/27/2021


compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Defendant-type
Corrections
Jurisdiction-wide
Discrimination-basis
Gender identity
Sexual orientatation
General
Prison Rape Elimination Act
Records Disclosure
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Ex parte Young (federal or state officials)
State law
Defendant(s) Washington State Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description Plaintiffs are a class of people identified as transgender, non-binary, gender non-conforming, and/or intersex in records in the possession of the Washington State Department of Corrections, and who are currently or formerly incarcerated by the Washington State Department of Corrections.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Affiliates (any)
NDRN/Protection & Advocacy Organizations
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status outcome Granted
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Source of Relief Litigation
Order Duration 2021 - n/a
Filed 04/07/2021
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
click to show/hide detail
  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Does v. Washington State Department of Corrections
By: Disability Rights Washington
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
E.D. Wash.
07/14/2021
4:21-cv-05059-TOR
PC-WA-0034-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
E.D. Wash.
04/07/2021
Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 1]
PC-WA-0034-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Wash.
04/08/2021
Order Granting Motion for Temporary Restraining Order [ECF# 22] (2021 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 68698)
PC-WA-0034-0004.pdf | LEXIS | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Wash.
05/17/2021
Order Granting Motion for Provisional Class Certification [ECF# 69] (2021 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 93489)
PC-WA-0034-0003.pdf | LEXIS | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Wash.
05/17/2021
Order Granting Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 70] (2021 WL 2453099 / 2021 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 93455)
PC-WA-0034-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Wash.
07/01/2021
Order Denying Defendants' Motion to Certify State Law Issues to the Washington Supreme Court [ECF# 89] (2021 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 123643)
PC-WA-0034-0005.pdf | LEXIS | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Rice, Thomas Owen (E.D. Wash.) show/hide docs
PC-WA-0034-0001 | PC-WA-0034-0003 | PC-WA-0034-0004 | PC-WA-0034-0005
Plaintiff's Lawyers Carlson, David R. (Washington) show/hide docs
PC-WA-0034-0002 | PC-WA-0034-9000
Davis, Antoinette Marie (Washington) show/hide docs
PC-WA-0034-0002 | PC-WA-0034-9000
Forster, Katherine M (California) show/hide docs
PC-WA-0034-0002 | PC-WA-0034-9000
Frenchman, Ethan Drew (Washington) show/hide docs
PC-WA-0034-0002 | PC-WA-0034-9000
McKimmie, Heather Lynn (Washington) show/hide docs
PC-WA-0034-0002 | PC-WA-0034-9000
Nowlin, Lisa (Washington) show/hide docs
PC-WA-0034-0002 | PC-WA-0034-9000
Shaeffer, Joseph R. (Washington) show/hide docs
PC-WA-0034-0002 | PC-WA-0034-9000
Talner, Nancy Lynn (Washington) show/hide docs
PC-WA-0034-0002 | PC-WA-0034-9000
Waxwing, Danny (Washington) show/hide docs
PC-WA-0034-0002 | PC-WA-0034-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Dibble, Candie M. (Washington) show/hide docs
PC-WA-0034-9000
Other Lawyers Earl-Hubbard, Michele Lynn (Washington) show/hide docs
PC-WA-0034-9000
Jackson, Candice (California) show/hide docs
PC-WA-0034-9000

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
view search results
page permalink

- top of page -