On April 4, 2001, nine youths in custody of the California Youth Authority ("CYA") filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the CYA in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California. The youths, represented by both private counsel and counsel from the Disability ...
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On April 4, 2001, nine youths in custody of the California Youth Authority ("CYA") filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the CYA in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California. The youths, represented by both private counsel and counsel from the Disability Rights Advocates, sought injunctive and declaratory relief under the First and Fourteenth Amendments, the Americans with Disability Act (42 U.S.C. § 12131), the Rehabilitation Act (29 U.S.C. § 794) and the Religious Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (42 U.S.C. § 2000cc-1). The nine named plaintiffs requested class certification on behalf of all CYA wards across eleven institutions, consisting of over 6000 wards, for relief from poor conditions and unconstitutional policies of the CYA.
More specifically, the plaintiffs' complaint was brought with regard to the following: (1) the physical safety of the wards; (2) disability discrimination; (3) interference with attorney-client communications; (4) failure to provide religious services; (5) inadequate mental health care; (6) inadequate education and rehabilitative programming; and (7) violation of the ward's procedural due process. On April 22, 2002, the CYA, represented by counsel from the Attorney General's office, filed a motion to dismiss. This motion included all claims, except one ward's claim regarding the CYA's failure to provide adequate medical care for her tonsillitis, which went untreated for 18 months while she was in the CYA's custody. The defendant moved for summary judgment on that claim.
The District Court (Judge David F. Levi) granted the defendants' motion to dismiss with regard to the majority of the claims, stating that in most cases, the plaintiffs did not allege a threat of ongoing or future harm or an imminent likelihood of physical danger. The motion for summary judgment on the plaintiff's medical care claim was also granted, as the Court ruled that the claim was moot because the plaintiff had an operation to remove her tonsils prior to the suit. Thus, there was no possibility that she would continue to suffer from tonsillitis.
On September 10, 2002, the District Court (Judge Levi) granted the plaintiffs' motion for class certification on behalf of all CYA wards receiving inadequate mental health care, more specifically, sex offenders denied proper treatment and wards forcibly medicated with a psychotropic drug without an initial hearing. The Court also granted certification to a class of wards who had been placed in lockup units during the past year without a hearing. Stevens v. Harper, 213 F.R.D. 358 (E.D. Cal. 2002). Class certification was denied with regard to the remainder of the claims, as the plaintiffs either lacked standing on those claims, could not establish a pattern of similar acts that would justify a class action suit, or could not establish issues of law or fact common to all potential class members.
The final entry in the docket (June 13, 2003) consisted of an order for notice to be provided to the plaintiff classes and to dismiss the case without prejudice. We have no further information on the case. Stacey Jensen - 05/16/2006