NOTE: All documents relating to the prison overcrowding proceedings in this case, which led to imposition of a statewide prison population cap, affirmed by the Supreme Court, are presented in a different case record, PC-CA-0057
. See "related cases" below. Summary:
On August 20, 2001, ten male California inmates filed this class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, against officials of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), alleging that the CDCR's medical services were inadequate, and violated the Eighth Amendment, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and §504 of Rehabilitation Act. The plaintiffs were represented by attorneys from the Prison Law Office and private counsel.
The plaintiffs' specific complaints mirrored those raised in an earlier case, Shumate v. Wilson, No. CIV S-95-0619 (E.D. Cal. 2000), PC-CA-0011
in this Clearinghouse, a case brought by women inmates of the California Institution for Women and the Central California Women's Facility. In Shumate, the plaintiffs alleged that California Department of Corrections officials provided inadequate medical services, including: sick call, triage, emergency care, nurses, urgent care, chronic care, specialty referrals, medical screenings, follow-up care, examinations, medications, diets, terminal care, health education, and dental care. The Shumate case settled in 1997.
The Plata parties stipulated to injunctive relief, requiring the CDCR to implement a series of health care improvements and subjecting the CDCR to a series of audits to determine compliance. The parties did not agree whether or not inmates at two facilities at issue in Shumate should be members of the class, but provided that upon the defendants' motion, the District Court would resolve the issue. After a fairness hearing, the District Court adopted the class action settlement as fair, reasonable, and adequate, on May 20, 2002.
Earlier, on March 19, 2002, the defendants had moved to exclude Shumate inmates from the class. The District Court (Judge Thelton E. Henderson) denied the defendants' motion, and ordered the Shumate inmates be included in the class. The defendants appealed that order on June 3, 2002. On May 27, 2003, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Judges John T. Noonan, Atsushi W. Tashima, and Kim M. Wardlaw) dismissed the appeal. Writing for the court, Judge Wardlaw held that because there was no reviewable final order before the court and because the prerequisites for interlocutory appeal were not met, the court lacked jurisdiction over the appeal. Plata v. Davis, 329 F.3d 1101 (9th Cir. 2003).
On May 10, 2005, the District Court issued an order to show cause regarding the interim placement of California's prison medical care system into receivership. After hearings in early June, the District Court (Judge Henderson) placed California's prison health system into receivership on June 30, 2005, and on February 14, 2006 Robert Sillen was appointed as Receiver. In that capacity, Mr. Sillen was charged to act as the executive manager of the state's prison medical care system and given full authority to direct improvements necessary to bring the system up to constitutional standards. The California Prison Health Care Receivership Corp., a San Jose-based non-profit organization, was created to house the activities of the Receiver.
The Receiver issued his first report on July 5, 2006. That report detailed the initial evaluations of the problems plaguing the prison health care system and immediate recommendations for change. Certain pilot programs were developed to provide immediate relief, while the Receiver and his staff started developing a long-range plan for systemic reform. The Receiver issued subsequent reports on his activity.
To facilitate proposed changes, Judge Henderson allowed the Receiver to waive California state law and increase salaries of critical medical staff and physicians, so as to bring them in line with comparable positions.
While the Plata case involved the overhaul of the CDCR's medical delivery systems, the CDCR faced legal challenges in other areas of its operation. The CDCR's mental health services were the subject of a separate federal class action lawsuit Coleman v. Schwarzenegger (PC-CA-0002
), while dental service issues were litigated in the federal class action lawsuit Perez v. Tilton (PC-CA-0033
) and violations of the Americans with Disability Act were alleged in the class action case Armstrong v. Davis (PC-CA-0001
). Each case was handled by a separate federal district court judge: Plata (Judge Henderson); Coleman (Judge Lawrence Karlton); Armstrong (Judge Claudia Wilken) and Perez (Judge Jeffrey White). In early 2007, these four presiding judges instructed representatives of the remedial efforts in each cases to work together to streamline their progress.
On May 11, 2007, the Receiver filed a Plan of Action in the Plata case which outlined his plan for restructuring and developing a constitutionally adequate health care system in California's prisons. On May 15, 2007, the Receiver issued a report, addressing the issue of prison overcrowding and its effect on overhauling the prison health care system. A supplemental overcrowding report was filed by the Receiver on June 11, 2007. For a more complete listing of Receiver reports, press releases and work papers, visit the website: California Prison Health Care Receivership (CPR)
Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, a population cap on a prison or prison system may be entered only by a specially constituted three-judge district court. The plaintiffs filed a motion to convene a three-judge district court to impose a population cap. A similar motion was filed in the related class action case Plata v. Schwarzenegger in which the CDCR's health care system was subject to Court oversight and remediation [PC-CA-0018], and also in Armstrong v. Schwarzenneger [PC-CA-0001], a large-scale prisoner disability discrimination case. These motions and the resulting proceedings are described in PC-CA-0057
, with many of the crucial documents.
In separate activity, the Plata Receiver issued his Sixth Quarterly Report (dated September 25, 2007) in which he summarized the major remedial projects that were underway. On December 14, 2007, after two months of discovery proceedings, the court issued an order staying the discovery and vacating all pre-trial and trial dates. The court also granted in part the defendants' motion for additional time to review and revise their privilege logs. The court then referred the case back to the magistrate judge for further proceedings.
On January 23, 2008, the court appointed J. Clark Kelso to be the new Receiver in the case, replacing Robert Sillen. On February 26, 2008, the court approved a construction agreement which involved three different construction projects, including a medical center at the San Quentin Prison, additional office space at the CDCR, as well as 5,000 CDCR medical beds and 5,000 CDCR mental health beds.
On March 11, 2008, the Receiver issued a draft strategic plan, which detailed what needed to be done in order to bring California's prison health care up to Constitutional standards. However, on May 29, 2008, the California state senate voted to decline SB1665, a bill which would have provided $7 billion for the Receiver's prison health care strategic plan. On June 16, 2008, the district court (Judge Henderson) approved the Receiver's plan. Because the state government did not want to provide the funding for the plan, on August 13, 2008, the Receiver asked the district court to issue a court order instructing the state government to provide the necessary funding. The Receiver also filed a motion asking the court to hold the defendants in contempt for their failure to fund the remedial projects. The court heard oral argument on the Receiver's motion on October 6, 2008.
On October 27, 2008, Judge Henderson ordered the defendants to transfer $250 million to the receiver by November 5, 2008. On October 31, 2008, the defendants concurrently filed an appeal and a motion to stay Judge Henderson's order that they transfer the money to the receiver. On November 7, 2008, Judge Henderson heard oral argument on the motion to stay and subsequently issued an order denying the motion. Later that same day, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit granted the defendants' motion for a stay.
On November 3, 2008, the court denied the defendants' motion for summary judgment. On November 7, 2008, the district court denied the defendants' motion to stay the court's order that they must pay $250 million to fund the Receiver's plan. 2008 WL 4847080 (N.D. Cal. Nov. 7, 2008).
On November 17, 2008, Judge Henderson modified the Receiver's reporting requirements, changing the due dates for reports to January 15, May 15, and September 15 of each year.
On January 30, 2009, the Receiver submitted a supplemental application for an order waiving state contracting statutes, regulations and procedures. On the same day, Judge Henderson granted the application and waived certain state statutes, regulations, and procedures to the extent necessary to permit the Receiver to design and implement certain quality improvement projects.
On January 28, 2009, the defendants had filed a motion (1) to replace the Receiver with a special master and, during the transition, to establish a process to ensure the Receiver's compliance with state and federal law, and (2) to terminate the Receiver's construction plan. Under the PLRA, the defendants' motion to "modify or terminate prospective relief" triggered an automatic stay of the injunction that would go into effect 30 days after the motion. The Receiver responded by moving for postponement of the automatic stay for the maximum of 60 days allowed under the PLRA. On February 26, 2009, Judge Henderson granted a 30-day postponement of the automatic stay, which would begin April 1, 2009. 2009 WL 500813 (N.D. Cal. Feb. 26, 2009).
On March 16, 2009, the defendants' moved to replace the Receiver with a special master and to terminate the Receiver's construction plan. On March 24, 2009, Judge Henderson denied the defendants' motion. 2009 WL 799392 (N.D. Cal. Mar. 24, 2009). The defendants appealed this decision to the Ninth Circuit, and asked Judge Henderson to stay the decision pending the appeal. The defendants also asked Judge Henderson to shorten the time on the motion to stay, such that the motion could be heard sooner.
On March 25, 2009, the Ninth Circuit dismissed the defendants' appeal of Judge Henderson's October 27, 2008, order to the state to pay $250 million to fund the projects and show cause why the state should not be held in contempt. The Ninth Circuit dismissed the appeal because 1) the order was not a final, appealable contempt order; 2) the order was not an appealable collateral order; 3) the order was not appealable as an "affirmative injunction" or an order for the immediate payment of funds; and 4) writ of mandamus to prevent the District Court from holding the state in contempt was not warranted. 560 F.3d 976 (9th Cir. 2009).
On May 1, 2009, Judge Henderson denied the defendants' request to shorten the time on the motion to stay the March 24, 2009 Order. 2009 WL 1178652 (N.D. Cal. May 1, 2009).
On April 30, 2010, the Ninth Circuit held that 1) the PLRA did not bar appointment of receiver; 2) receivership was the least intrusive means of remedying State prison system's constitutionally inadequate medical care; and 3) the Court of Appeals lacked jurisdiction to review the District Court's decision refusing to terminate the construction plan. 603 F.3d 1088 (9th Cir. 2010).
On May 7, 2012, the parties and the Receiver filed their Court-ordered report regarding post-Receivership planning. The report indicated agreement that the Receivership had made significant progress in improving the delivery of medical care in California's prisons, as well as agreement that several critical tasks remained outstanding. However, the parties disputed both when the Receivership should end and how to evaluate whether the level of care being provided at any particular institution was constitutional. As a result, on May 30, 2012, Judge Henderson issued an order proposing a Receivership transition plan and ordered the parties to respond by June 29, 2012.
After the parties responded to the proposed plan, on September 5, 2012, Judge Henderson ordered a plan for transitioning away from the Receivership through the use of revocable delegations of authority by the Receiver to defendants over particular tasks within the system of inmate medical care. The Court also established a scheme whereby adequacy of care at individual institutions would be determined by a combination of evaluations by the court experts and medical inspections by the Office of the Inspector General ("OIG").
On January 27, 2014, the Receiver closed CHCF to new medical admissions to allow time to correct identified deficiencies in the provision of medical care. The Receiver anticipated being able to re-open admissions in the next several months.
On May 28, 2014, the Ninth Circuit denied the state's petition for writ of mandamus regarding Judge Henderson's February 21, 2013, order requiring the state to disclose its expert witnesses and their reports at least 120 days before it filed a motion to terminate relief. The Ninth Circuit held that 1) it lacked appellate jurisdiction over state's interlocutory appeal, and 2) the order did not violate the PLRA. 754 F.3d 1070 (9th Cir. 2014).
On March 10, 2015, Judge Henderson revised the September 5, 2012, order plan for transitioning away from the Receivership. The 2012 plan used revocable delegations of authority by the Receiver to the state over particular tasks within the system of inmate medical care. After consulting at length with the Receiver and court experts, Judge Henderson modified the 2012 order. Judge Henderson changed the Receiver's process for determining when an institution was should be returned to CDCR control. Judge Henderson also clarified that while the Receiver would gradually take on more of a monitoring function as additional activities and institutions are delegated back to CDCR, the Receiver would remain a receiver and retain his powers over the inmate medical care system until the case ended.
On May 27, 2015, Judge Henderson issued an order modifying the rebuttable presumption upon delegation by the Receiver established in the transition plan. The transition plan stated that when the Receiver determined that an institution was suitable for return to CDCR control, he would "execute a revocable delegation of authority to the Secretary of CDCR to take over management of that institution's medical care program." This revocable delegation would create a rebuttable presumption that care at the institution had reached a level of constitutional adequacy. Judge Henderson changed the rebuttable presumption to clarify that systemic problems would not prevent delegation as long as those problems were being adequately addressed.
In a 2015 update to the Court, the Receiver reported that while the quality of medical care had substantially improved since 2006, "there remain a number of improvement efforts initiated by the Receiver that must be completed.” Such improvements included the availability and usability of health information, scheduling and access to care, care management, and health care infrastructure at facilities.
The Receiver filed the thirty-fourth tri-annual report on February 1, 2017. In this report one of the largest issues identified was a significant deterioration in provider staffing since the last report–a problem so serious that the Prison Law Office requested the parties meet to address it. As of April 5, 2017, monitoring and implementation continue.Kristen Sagar - 02/09/2009
Jessica Kincaid - 11/23/2015
Abigail DeHart - 04/05/2017