On April 22, 1996, two inmates with developmental disabilities, incarcerated within facilities run by the California Department of Corrections (CDC), filed a class action lawsuit n the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Rehabilitation Act (RA), against the State of California, Governor, CDC and prison officials. The plaintiffs, represented by the Prison Law Office, the Disability Rights and Education Defense Fund and private counsel, asked the court for declaratory, injunctive and monetary relief, alleging that the defendants violated their rights under the Equal Protection Clause, Americans with Disabilities Act, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Specifically, the plaintiffs claimed that the defendants discriminated against them because of their disabilities, that their living conditions constituted cruel and unusual punishment and that the defendants had deprived them of due process.
On October 1, 1996, Judge Fern M. Smith denied the defendants' motions to dismiss the Rehab. Act, ADA, equal protection and Eighth Amendment claims and granted, in part, the defendants' motion to dismiss the due process claims, allowing the plaintiffs to amend their complaint with respect to the due process claim. The defendants appealed. Clark v. State, 1996 WL 628221 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 1, 1996).
On February 26, 1997, Judge Smith certified a class consisting of all present and future individuals with developmental disabilities under the control of the CDC. In January 1998, the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint adding additional plaintiffs. Extensive discovery followed.
On May 11, 1998, Judge Smith granted in part and denied in part the State defendants' motion for summary judgment. Judge Smith granted summary judgment on and dismissed the equal protection claims, and denied motions with respect to exhaustion of administrative and state remedies as well as for standing. Judge Smith also denied the defendants' motion to decertify the class. Clark v. State of Calif., 1998 WL 242688 (N.D. Cal. May 11, 1998).
Prior to the scheduled trial date, the parties engaged in negotiations under the supervision of Judge Eugene Lynch. The negotiations resulted in an interim agreement and stipulation that was filed on July 20, 1998. The interim agreement provided for, among other things, improved education, vocational programs, medical care, housing, and staff assistance for inmates with developmental disabilities. This plan was subject to negotiations between the parties and evaluation by court appointed experts.
On August 18, 1998, Judge Smith appointed Peter Leone, Ph.D., and Melissa G. Warren, Ph.D. to be the court's experts to evaluate the defendants' compliance with the agreement, and filed a settlement agreement, implementing the interim agreement subject to monitoring by the plaintiffs' counsel and evaluation by the court's experts.
On October 9, 1998, Judge Smith entered judgment in favor of the plaintiffs in the amount of $2.8 million for attorneys' fees for all work performed before the execution of the interim agreement and stipulation.
Between December 1999, and February 2002, other district court Judges Charles R. Breyer and Phyllis J. Hamilton approved various amendments to the settlement agreement. In March 2002, the CDC issued a comprehensive remedial plan which was adopted by the court. The remedial plan included detailed policies and procedures to assure identification, appropriate classification, housing, protection and nondiscrimination of inmates/parolees with developmental disabilities.
On December 3, 2001, the parties signed a settlement agreement granting relief to the plaintiff class. The defendants admitted "that they [had] violated the federal rights of plaintiffs in a manner sufficient to warrant the relief contained herein." Implementation and modifications to the 2002 remedial plan continued through 2007.
In July 2009 the defendants filed a motion to terminate the settlement agreement, pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act and Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 60(b). The defendants declared that they were no longer violating the federal rights of prisoners with developmental disabilities, and that continued relief was no longer necessary because of these violations. On August 13, 2009, the plaintiffs filed a motion to enforce judgment. There was no dispute as to the utility of the settlement agreement and the clark remedial plan. What was in dispute, however, was whether the order requiring compliance with the plan, including monitoring by the plaintiffs' counsel and the court's experts, was necessary. Investigating this issue, one of the court's experts conducted a review of the treatment of developmentally disabled prisoners and found that developmentally disabled inmates did not receive the protections and supports as described in the clark remedial plan.
On September 16, 2010, the District Court denied in part and granted in part the defendants' motion for relief. The court also granted in part and denied in part the plaintiffs' motion for further relief. The court found termination of the entire settlement agreement unwarranted because ongoing violations of federal constitutional and statutory rights supported the continuation of relief. However, not all of the provisions of the settlement agreement were sufficiently narrowly drawn to meet the standards of the Prison Litigation Report Act (PLRA), so these provisions were terminated. In addition to upholding the majority of the settlement agreement, the court issued further remedial orders including staff training, better identification of class members by the defendants, and self-monitoring by the Defendants on their progress. Clark v. California, 739 F. Supp. 2d 1168 (N.D. Cal. 2010). On December 29, 2010, the court granted the plaintiffs' attorneys $2.3 million in fees.
As of July 15, 2014, the court continues to monitor the defendants.David Priddy - 07/17/2011
Jessica Kincaid - 07/15/2014