University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name United States v. County of Los Angeles and Los Angeles County Sheriff [USDOJ CRIPA Investigation] JC-CA-0005
Docket / Court 2:15-cv-05903 ( C.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Special Collection California's Prisoners' Rights Bar article
Attorney Organization Public Counsel
U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Case Summary
On June 6, 1996, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) notified Los Angeles County that it intended to investigate conditions in the Los Angeles County Jail system pursuant to the Civil Rights of the Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997 et seq. In August of 1996, the ... read more >
On June 6, 1996, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) notified Los Angeles County that it intended to investigate conditions in the Los Angeles County Jail system pursuant to the Civil Rights of the Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997 et seq. In August of 1996, the DOJ toured the Los Angeles County Jail (the Jail) with correctional mental health experts. The investigation found that the Jail was failing to provide care meeting constitutional standards to mentally ill inmates. On September 5, 1997, the DOJ issued a letter reporting its findings based on the tour, the County's response to the tour, and additional information. The DOJ concluded that mental health care at the Jail violated the inmates' constitutional rights.

The DOJ's findings report detailed numerous alleged constitutional deficiencies with regard to mental health care, including inadequate: (1) intake screening and evaluation, (2) diagnosis, (3) referral to mental health professionals, (4) treatment plans, (5) administration of medications, (6) suicide prevention, (7) tracking and medical record keeping, (8) staffing, (9) communication, and (10) quality assurance. The report also noted that mentally ill inmates were abused through excessive force and improper restraint.

The report included a list of recommended remedial measures addressing the screening and treating of mentally ill inmates. The recommendations also included providing adequate and sanitary conditions for mentally ill inmates, providing access to recreation and other privileges, and promptly investigating reports of mistreatment or abuse of mentally ill prisoners. Other recommendations addressed record-keeping systems and suicide watch procedures.

On December 19, 2002, the parties reached a Memorandum of Agreement that required adequate mental health care and suicide and prevention at the Los Angeles County Jail System. The Agreement stated that (1) all inmates were to be screened for mental illness upon intake to the Jail; (2) all inmates who may be mentally ill were to be referred to a mental health professional, and the County should provide adequate mental health treatment, including medication; (3) all inmates under suicide watch were to be evaluated by a mental health professional; and (4) detailed medical records with regard to mental health were to be kept. Also, the County is to provide sufficient mental health staffing to ensure timely access to adequate mental health treatment. Finally, the County must implement and document a continuous quality improvement program for mental health services, specifying the procedures for medical and administrative review for various events, such as suicides and attempted suicides.

On June 4, 2014, the DOJ issued a letter stating that, since the entry of the Memorandum of Agreement twelve years before, there had been significant improvement in the delivery of mental health services. However, serious systemic deficiencies remained with regard to some aspects of the Jails' mental health program.

In September 2013, the DOJ had opened a separate investigation of the Jails under CRIPA and 42 U.S.C. § 14141 to address allegations of use of excessive force against all prisoners at the Jails, not just prisoners with mental illness. During the course of the investigation, the County and the Sheriff entered into a comprehensive settlement agreement to resolve Rosas v. McDonnell, JC-CA-0073, in this Clearinghouse. Rosas was a class action lawsuit alleging abuse and excessive force by staff at certain Jails located in downtown Los Angeles. As part of the Rosas settlement agreement, the County and the Sheriff agreed to implement significant measures to protect prisoners from excessive force by staff, including improvements in policies, training, incident tracking and reporting, investigations, resolution of prisoner grievances, prisoner and staff supervision, and accountability.

The allegations concerning suicide prevention and mental health care at the Jails resulting from the partial implementation of the 2002 MOA and current conditions within the Jails remained after that settlement agreement. To address these issues the parties developed another settlement agreement. On August 5, 2015, the government filed this lawsuit against the County in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, under CRIPA and the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, 42 U.S.C. § 14141. On the same day the Complaint was filed, the government and the County filed a stipulated settlement.

The now-court-enforceable settlement agreement provided for a series of new or enhanced policies and practices intended to ensure that the County would provide safe and secure conditions and ensure the inmates' reasonable safety from harm, including serious risk from self-harm and excessive force, and ensure adequate treatment for their serious mental health needs. The agreement also extended the remedial measures in the Implementation Plan of the Rosas settlement agreement to fully resolve the DOJ’s CRIPA findings regarding alleged mistreatment of prisoners with mental illness and claims under Section 14141 regarding alleged excessive force against prisoners at all of the Jails.

On September 3, 2015, Judge Dean D. Pregerson approved the settlement agreement.

On September 28, 2015, individuals with mental illnesses and disabilities whom Los Angeles County frequently cycles between its jails and streets sought to intervene in this matter arguing that paragraph 34 of the settlement agreement, covering discharge procedures, violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, and their Fourth and Eighth Amendment rights. The individuals alleged that Paragraph 34 facially discriminated against disabled prisoners whose disability stemmed from personality disorders, substance abuse and dependence disorders, dementia, or developmental disabilities, as well as all disabled prisoners who spend seven days or fewer in jail. The individuals further alleged that Paragraph 34's discharge procedures were inadequate, as many disabled prisoners would be unable to obtain needed medication or services if provided with nothing more than a prescription or list of referrals upon discharge.

On December 15, 2015, Judge Pregerson granted the motion to intervene. 2015 WL 8783449. On January 14, 2016, the intervenor plaintiffs filed their amended complaint. On March 14, 2016, the defendants filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings with regard to the intervenor’s first amended complaint. The defendants argued the intervenors lacked standing to assert injunctive relief claims to modify jail services because none of them were currently incarcerated nor had the intervenors suffered any hard as a result of the challenged policies. The defendants also claimed that the intervenors’ allegations regarding inadequate medical treatment failed to state a cognizable claim because the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act did not create a remedy for deficient medical services. Finally, the defendants argued that the intervenors’ allegations did not state any viable constitutional claims because, by their own admissions, none of them had been deprived of their constitutional rights. Judge Pregerson, however, disagreed with the defendant’s arguments and denied this motion on May 17, 2016. 2016 WL 2885855.

The following month, the defendants moved to dismiss the claims of one of the intervenor plaintiffs for failure to prosecute. Both the plaintiffs and intervenor plaintiffs filed notices of non-opposition to this motion. As such, the court dismissed those claims on September 7, 2017.

As of June 2018, litigation continues and the parties are working to resolve the deficiencies in the settlement agreement.

David Terry - 03/08/2006
Jessica Kincaid - 02/04/2016
Jake Parker - 06/21/2018


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Unreasonable search and seizure
Content of Injunction
Auditing
Monitor/Master
Monitoring
Recordkeeping
Reporting
Training
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
Defendant-type
Corrections
Jurisdiction-wide
General
Assault/abuse by residents/inmates/students
Classification / placement
Counseling
Excessive force
Sanitation / living conditions
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Suicide prevention
Totality of conditions
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Mental health care, general
Suicide prevention
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997 et seq.
Defendant(s) Los Angeles County Jail
Plaintiff Description United States Department of Justice and individuals with mental illnesses and disabilities who cycle through the LA County Jail
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Public Counsel
U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Private Settlement Agreement
Order Duration 2002 - n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  An Analysis of CRIPA Findings Letters Issued to Jails for Constitutional Violations by the Department of Justice
Date: Apr. 15, 2016
By: Jeff Mellow, Bryce E. Peterson & Mijin Kim (John Jay College of Criminal Justice Faculty)
Citation: Am. J. Crim. Just. (April 2016)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
2:15-cv-5903 (C.D. Cal.)
JC-CA-0005-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/01/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Notice Letter re: CRIPA Investigation of Los Angeles County Jail
JC-CA-0005-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/06/1996
USDOJ Agreement with LA County Jail
JC-CA-0005-0001.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 08/01/1996
Memorandum re: Findings Letter re: Los Angeles County Jail
JC-CA-0005-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/14/1997
Findings Letter re: CRIPA Investigation of Mental Helath Services in the Los Angeles County Jail
JC-CA-0005-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/05/1997
Memorandum of Agreement Between the United States and Los Angeles County, California Regarding Mental Health Services at the Los Angeles County Jail
JC-CA-0005-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/19/2002
RE: Mental Health Care and Suicide Prevention Practices at Los Angeles County Jails
JC-CA-0005-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/04/2012
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Compliance Letter
JC-CA-0005-0002.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 06/04/2014
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Justice Department Concludes That Los Angeles County Jails System Has Made Progress, but Serious Deficiencies Continue
JC-CA-0005-0003.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 06/04/2014
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
Stipulation and Proposed Order Approving and Entering Joint Settlement
JC-CA-0005-0014.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/05/2015
Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
Complaint [ECF# 1]
JC-CA-0005-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/05/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Joint Settlement Agreement Regarding the Los Angeles County Jails; and Stipulated [Proposed] Order of Resolution [ECF# 4-1]
JC-CA-0005-0015.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/05/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Approving and Entering Joint Settlement Agreement as an Order [ECF# 13] (C.D. Cal.)
JC-CA-0005-0010.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/03/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Joint Settlement Agreement Regarding the Los Angeles County Jails; and Stipulated Order of Resolution [ECF# 14]
JC-CA-0005-0011.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/03/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting Motion to Intervene [ECF# 75] (2015 WL 8783449) (C.D. Cal.)
JC-CA-0005-0012.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 12/15/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiff-Intervenors' First Amended Complaint in Intervention [ECF# 76]
JC-CA-0005-0013.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/14/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Proceedings: (In Chambers) Order Re Plaintiff-Intervenors' Motion to Compel Deposition of Dr.Mitchell Katz [ECF# 99] (2016 WL 4060314) (C.D. Cal.)
JC-CA-0005-0016.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 04/27/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Denying Defendants' Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings [ECF# 103] (2016 WL 2885855) (C.D. Cal.)
JC-CA-0005-0017.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 05/17/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Denying Defendant's Motions for 1) Review of Magistrate Judge's Order and 2) Disqualification [ECF# 120] (2016 WL 4059712) (C.D. Cal.)
JC-CA-0005-0018.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 07/27/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges McDermott, John E. Court not on record [Magistrate]
JC-CA-0005-0016 | JC-CA-0005-9000
Pregerson, Dean D. (C.D. Cal.)
JC-CA-0005-0010 | JC-CA-0005-0011 | JC-CA-0005-0012 | JC-CA-0005-0017 | JC-CA-0005-0018 | JC-CA-0005-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Anderson, L. Adelaide (California)
JC-CA-0005-0013 | JC-CA-0005-9000
Birotte, Andre Jr. (California)
JC-CA-0005-0008
Blasi, Gary L. (California)
JC-CA-0005-0013 | JC-CA-0005-9000
Boyd, Ralph F. Jr. (District of Columbia)
JC-CA-0005-0001 | JC-CA-0005-0007
Clancy, Thomas P. (California)
JC-CA-0005-0013 | JC-CA-0005-9000
Coon, Laura (District of Columbia)
JC-CA-0005-0009 | JC-CA-0005-0010 | JC-CA-0005-0011 | JC-CA-0005-0014 | JC-CA-0005-0015
Davis-Denny, Grant A. (California)
JC-CA-0005-0013 | JC-CA-0005-9000
Decker, Eileen (California)
JC-CA-0005-0009 | JC-CA-0005-0010 | JC-CA-0005-0011 | JC-CA-0005-0014 | JC-CA-0005-0015
Eichner, James (District of Columbia)
JC-CA-0005-0001 | JC-CA-0005-0007
Hartz, Alisa Louise (California)
JC-CA-0005-0013 | JC-CA-0005-9000
Hull, Joanna (District of Columbia)
JC-CA-0005-0009 | JC-CA-0005-0010 | JC-CA-0005-0011 | JC-CA-0005-0014 | JC-CA-0005-0015 | JC-CA-0005-9000
Kappelhoff, Mark (District of Columbia)
JC-CA-0005-0009 | JC-CA-0005-0010 | JC-CA-0005-0011 | JC-CA-0005-0014 | JC-CA-0005-0015
Lynch, Loretta (New York)
JC-CA-0005-0009 | JC-CA-0005-0010 | JC-CA-0005-0011 | JC-CA-0005-0014 | JC-CA-0005-0015
Maddox, William G. (District of Columbia)
JC-CA-0005-0001 | JC-CA-0005-0007
Monteleone, Robyn-Marie L (California)
JC-CA-0005-0009 | JC-CA-0005-0010 | JC-CA-0005-0011 | JC-CA-0005-0014 | JC-CA-0005-0015 | JC-CA-0005-9000
Murphy, Emily Rose DiMento (California)
JC-CA-0005-0013 | JC-CA-0005-9000
Nelson, Mellie H. (District of Columbia)
JC-CA-0005-0001 | JC-CA-0005-0007
Nickell, Matthew Edward (California)
JC-CA-0005-9000
Patrick, Deval L. (District of Columbia)
JC-CA-0005-0004
Phillips, Bradley S. (California)
JC-CA-0005-0013 | JC-CA-0005-9000
Pinzler, Isabelle Katz (District of Columbia)
JC-CA-0005-0006
Preston, Judith C. (District of Columbia)
JC-CA-0005-0009 | JC-CA-0005-0010 | JC-CA-0005-0011 | JC-CA-0005-0014 | JC-CA-0005-0015
Richardson, Anne K. (California)
JC-CA-0005-0013 | JC-CA-0005-9000
Rosenbaum, Steven H. (District of Columbia)
JC-CA-0005-0001 | JC-CA-0005-0005 | JC-CA-0005-0007
Rosenbaum, Mark Dale (California)
JC-CA-0005-0013 | JC-CA-0005-9000
Saucedo, Luis E. (District of Columbia)
JC-CA-0005-0009 | JC-CA-0005-0010 | JC-CA-0005-0011 | JC-CA-0005-0015 | JC-CA-0005-9000
Smith, Jonathan Mark (District of Columbia)
JC-CA-0005-0008
Trainor, Cathleen (District of Columbia)
JC-CA-0005-0009 | JC-CA-0005-0010 | JC-CA-0005-0011 | JC-CA-0005-0014 | JC-CA-0005-0015
Weidman, Leon W. (California)
JC-CA-0005-0009 | JC-CA-0005-0010 | JC-CA-0005-0011 | JC-CA-0005-0014 | JC-CA-0005-0015
Wilson, Geoffrey Daniel (California)
JC-CA-0005-9000
Yang, Deborah W. (California)
JC-CA-0005-0001
Defendant's Lawyers Beach, Paul B (California)
JC-CA-0005-9000
Brazile, Kevin C. (California)
JC-CA-0005-0001
Castro-Silva, Rodrigo A. (California)
JC-CA-0005-0010 | JC-CA-0005-0011 | JC-CA-0005-9000
Chilleen, Michael J. (California)
JC-CA-0005-9000
Clark, Justin W. (California)
JC-CA-0005-9000
Hurley, Gregory F. (California)
JC-CA-0005-9000
Joynt, Karen C. (California)
JC-CA-0005-9000
Leimkuhler, Bradley J. (California)
JC-CA-0005-9000
Murillo, Tiana J. (California)
JC-CA-0005-9000
Park, Amie S (California)
JC-CA-0005-9000
Wickham, Mary C. (California)
JC-CA-0005-0010 | JC-CA-0005-0011

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