On May 1, 1990, male and female youth confined at the Ferris School and Bridge House in Wilmington, Delaware, filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Youth Rehabilitation Services (YRS) and the State of Delaware in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel and the National Prison Project of the ACLU, asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging that the defendants violated their Fourteenth Amendment rights to due process of law and to the least restrictive treatment under the least restrictive conditions, and under the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 794. Specifically, the plaintiffs contended the defendants subjected the plaintiffs to overcrowding, fire safety hazards, unhealthy living conditions, inadequate medical care, abusive punishment, improper classification, inadequate education, lack of due process, restrictions on communication, inadequate nutrition and recreation. On January 10, 1992, the plaintiffs amended the complaint to expand the class and include more specific allegations with respect to (a) the physical environment, (b) living conditions, (c) physical and verbal abuse, (d) medical, dental and psychiatric care, (e) mental health care, programming and treatment, (e) classification, due process, and the grievance system, and (f) special education services. Further, the amended complaint added a First Amendment claim of right to access to the courts and families.
On January 16, 1992, the case was reassigned from Judge Caleb M. Wright to Judge Sue L. Robinson. On March 31, 1992, the case was reassigned from Judge Sue L. Robinson to Judge Roderick R. McKelvie.
On May 20, 1992, the District Court (Judge Roderick R. McKelvie) certified a class consisting of those presently or in the future confined at Ferris School or New Castle County Detention Center in Wilmington, Delaware.
While settlement negations proceeded, a trial was scheduled. Apparently, the Court would not allow a continuance, so the parties agreed to dismiss the case without prejudice to allow more time for settlement. This dismissal happened on May 3, 1993.
On joint motions, in January 1994, the case was restored to the active docket by vacation of the prior dismissal order.
The parties submitted their proposed settlement agreement. After a fairness hearing, on May 6, 1994, the District Court (Judge McKelvie) approved the settlement agreement and issued an order for dismissal without prejudice, finding the negotiated settlement agreement to be fair, reasonable and adequate as a basis for compromising the claims of the plaintiff class.
Under the settlement agreement, YRS agreed, for three years, (a) to follow stipulated policies on grievances, discipline, control and confinement, (b) to provide the plaintiffs with recreation, exercise, education, medical and mental health care, and (c) to do certain other things with respect to programming, staffing, life safety, sanitation and hygiene. Further, the settlement agreement required YRS to develop a plan to ensure compliance, including the appointment of a Monitor.
The dismissal order allowed the plaintiffs to move to reopen the case to request a court order for the performance of the agreement's terms.
We have no more information on this file.Josh Altman - 05/31/2006