On July 24, 2006, pre-trial detainees in the Philadelphia Prison System [PPS] filed a class action lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia), challenging the conditions of their confinement. Plaintiffs, represented by the Institutional Law Project and private attorneys, sought declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as damages. Plaintiffs alleged that their constitutional rights had been violated by severe prison overcrowding and concomitant dangerous, unhealthy, and degrading conditions at local Police Districts, the Police Administration Building ("PAB") and at the intake unit of the Philadelphia Prison System ("PPS"). Plaintiffs filed a motion for a preliminary injunction immediately after their complaint was filed.
The Bowers lawsuit followed 30 years of litigation over conditions of the PPS and came six years after the final settlement of another federal class action lawsuit against the PPS. See Harris v. City of Phila., No. Civ. A. 82-1847, 2000 WL 1239948, at *1 (E.D.Pa. Aug. 30, 2000). [JC-PA-1 of this collection]; See also Jackson v.Hendricks, 764 A.2d 1139, 1141 (Pa.Commw.Ct.2001) [JC-PA-10 of this collection; initially filed in 1971].
On September 8, 2006, the District Court (Judge R. Barclay Surrick) granted District Attorney Lynne Abraham's motion to intervene pursuant to The Prison Litigation Reform Act [PLRA]. Bowers v. City of Philadelphia, 2006 WL 2601604 (E.D.Pa. Sept. 8, 2006).
An evidentiary hearing was held October 3 through 6, 2006 on plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction. In addition, on December 12, 2006, the District Court toured the intake unit at the Curran Fromhold Correctional Facility ("CFCF"), the holding cells at the PAB, and the holding cells in the 9th Police District. On January 25, 2007, the District Court (Judge Surrick) granted plaintiffs' motion and entered a preliminary injunction. Defendants' motions to dismiss was denied. The District Court's order delineated specific affirmative steps for the City to immediately undertake to redress the unconstitutional conditions at PPC. District Attorney Abraham filed a notice of appeal on the ruling.
On February 6, 2007, plaintiffs filed a motion for a permanent injunction, and on August 30, 2007, the parties filed a joint motion to terminate the preliminary injunction that had been issued by the court so that the parties could enter into a private settlement agreement that was not monitored by the court. On October 10, 2007, the district court terminated the preliminary injunction and dismissed the class claims.
At this point, the only remaining claims in the lawsuit were the individual claims by the named plaintiff Bowers. On September 16, 2008, the defendants filed a motion for summary judgment on these claims. On December 12, 2008, the district court issued an opinion denying the defendants' motion with respect to the plaintiff's federal constitutional claims. The court granted the defendants' motion with respect to the plaintiff's state constitutional claims and state law claims for negligence, recklessness, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Bowers v. City of Philadelphia, 2008 WL 5210256 (E.D.Pa. Dec. 12, 2008). The court also denied the plaintiff's claim for partial summary judgment. Bowers v. City of Philadelphia, 2008 WL 5234357 (E.D.Pa. Dec. 12, 2008). On December 19, 2008, the district court dismissed the plaintiff's claims with prejudice.Kristen Sagar - 10/03/2008