On November 20, 1987, prisoners incarcerated at the California Medical Facility at Vacaville (CMF) and at the Northern Reception Center (NRC) filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against CMF, NRC and the State of California in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, Sacramento Division. The plaintiffs, represented by the Prison Law Office, the American Civil Liberties Union, and private counsel, asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging constitutionally deficient medical and psychiatric care at CMF and NRC. Further, the plaintiffs alleged that the conditions of confinement, including overcrowding and lack of wheelchair access, were unconstitutional, in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth amendments.
A two month trial began on September 11, 1989. On October 24, 1989, the United States filed a complaint in intervention, alleging many of the same deficiencies. And, in November, the parties began serious settlement negotiations. The negotiations resulted in a consent decree in which the defendants agreed to make many changes in the care and treatment of prisoners, including the AIDS subclass, without admission of wrongdoing or a court determination that changes were legally required. Specifically, the consent decree contained provisions respecting medical care issues, medical disability issues, mental health issues, AIDS, and general conditions issues including, among other things, law library access, housing assignments, sanitation, staffing, and exercise and emergency procedures. The consent decree also provided for its implementation. The Court approved the decree in Jan. 1990, and awarded the plaintiffs significant attorneys' fees. The defendants appealed the fee award.
On October 6, 1992, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (Judge Herbert Young Cho Choy) affirmed in part and reversed in part the District Court's attorneys' fees award. Gates v. Deukmejian, 977 F.2d 1300 (9th Cir. 1992). The Court held that certain methods the District Court used to calculate attorneys' fees constituted an abuse of discretion. On March 2, 1993, the Court amended on denial of rehearing. Gates v. Deukmejian, 987 F.2d 1392 (9th Cir. 1993).
After the defendants appealed the District Court's order interpreting the consent decree, and the plaintiffs cross-appealed, on November 4, 1994, the Ninth Circuit (Judge Procter Hug, Jr.) affirmed in part and reversed in part. Gates v. Rowland, 39 F.3d 1440 (9th Cir. 1994). Specifically, the Court held that staffing adequacy should be determined from a correctional perspective, that denying HIV+ inmates access to food service jobs did not violate the Rehabilitation Act, and that the District Court's award of attorneys' fees was not an abuse of discretion.
On August 3, 1995, the Ninth Circuit (Judge Hug) held that the District Court had jurisdiction to issue various enforcement orders, did not abuse its discretion with respect to medical enforcement orders, and was warranted in granting attorneys' fees; however, the Court held that the District Court did abuse its discretion with respect to its rejection of the use of gun to prevent imminent substantial property damages. Gates v. Gomez, 60 F.3d 525 (9th Cir. 1995).
On April 8, 1996, the Ninth Circuit (Judge Mary M. Schroeder) affirmed in part and reversed in part the District Court's award of attorneys' fees. Gates v. Shinn, 82 F.3d 422 (9th Cir. 1996).
On July 22, 1996, the District Court (Judge Karlton) denied the defendants' motion to terminate relief the Court had previously ordered.
After the defendants appealed the District Court's entrance of a civil contempt order against them for failing to provide sufficient medical evaluation and treatment for all inmates, on October 16, 1996, the Ninth Circuit (Judge Kleinfeld) vacated and remanded, finding that the consent decree was too vague with respect to the appropriate level of treatment to warrant a contempt order. Gates v. Shinn, 98 F.3d 463 (9th Cir. 1996).
As described in Coleman v. Schwarzenegger, 2007 WL 2695344 (E.D. Cal. Sept. 11, 2007), in December 1998, the parties entered a stipulation to dismiss this action, and to transition remaining issues into Coleman v. Wilson, PC-CA-0002
in this Clearinghouse. See Stipulation and Order Amending Plaintiff Class and Application of Remedy in Coleman, filed December 24, 1998. Josh Altman - 11/04/2006