In 1975 inmates at the San Juan District Jail in Puerto Rico filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Puerto Rico under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging violations of the Fourteenth Amendment on the part of the jail administrators due to inadequate conditions of the jail. The Court consolidated the case into a class action shortly thereafter. Plaintiffs, who were represented by private counsel, sought permanent and injunctive relief. After conducting its own investigation and finding that conditions were in fact violative of inmates' constitutional rights, the Court (Judge Juan Torruella) found for the plaintiffs, ordering permanent injunctive relief with respect to the administration of the jail and the cessation of operation of the jail after August 1, 1976, and attorneys' fees. Martinez Rodriguez v. Jimenez, 409 F.Supp. 582 (D. P.R. 1976).
The defendants appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, requesting a stay of portions of the District Court order pertaining to the administration of the jail. The First Circuit (per curiam) denied the stay, finding that appellants failed to fulfill the legal standards necessary to entitle them to such a grant. Martinez Rodriguez v. Jimenez, 537 F.2d 1 (1st Cir. 1976). The defendants also appealed the District Court's grant of attorneys' fees to plaintiffs. The First Circuit (Judge Martin Donald Van Oosterhout) affirmed the District Court's order for attorneys' fees, finding such award proper and not barred by the Eleventh Amendment. Martinez Rodriguez v. Jimenez, 551 F.2d 877 (1st Cir. 1977).Rebecca Bloch - 03/24/2006