On August 22, 1980, Richard Bartkus filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut against the Connecticut Corrections Department. This case was consolidated and named lead case with five other cases filed against the defendant in 1981 and 1982. The plaintiffs in the other cases were Palmer Gaines, Joseph L. Letezeio, Jr., and Ernest Bradshaw. The plaintiffs were represented by the Connecticut Civil Liberties Union and Legal Assistance to Prisoners. Other non-profit organizations appear to have been involved in the litigation also.
On June 15, 1982, the plaintiffs filed the first amended complaint for the consolidated class consisting of inmates confined at the Connecticut Correctional Institute at Somers, including pretrial detainees and sentenced inmates. The complaint alleged that the plaintiff's rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments were violated because the facility was overcrowded, unsanitary, lacking in security, and unable to provide adequately the basics of general human living needs.
Because the PACER dockets for these cases begin in 1991, there is little information regarding further proceedings in the 1980s. In July 1986, the class was certified and the parties reached agreement on a Proposed Consent Judgment in October of 1989. The Decree was forwarded to Judge Robert Zampano but there is no indication that the order was executed.
The case was later consolidated with a lawsuit that was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut on August 15, 1988 (Doe v. White), which challenged certain policies of the defendant regarding HIV counseling, education, testing, and confidentiality. David Doe and other plaintiffs were represented by Jerome Frank Legal Services of Yale Law School, the Connecticut Civil Liberties Union, and the Center for Children's Advocacy. That action was certified as a class action on February 10, 1989 by order of Judge Peter C. Dorsey. On May 16, 1989, the parties entered into a Consent Judgment on Inmate AIDS Education and Pre- and Post-HIV Test Counseling and it was approved by the court. Discovery continued regarding issues not addressed in that judgment. On December 6, 1990, the court (Judge Jose A. Cabranes) approved and entered the Consent Judgment on Health Care for HIV-Infected Inmates and Confidentiality of HIV-Related Information. In Re: Connecticut Prison Overcrowding and AIDS Cases, Nos. H-80-506, H-88-562, 1990 WL 261348 (D. Conn. Dec. 6, 1990). The judgment required screening of all admitted inmates, individualized health care summaries for HIV-positive inmates, routine health examinations, and the use of drug therapies for HIV-positive inmates. It also mandated the creation of a uniform statewide system for maintaining information about medical and mental health status of HIV-positive inmates. It appears that another consent judgment, entered on November 2, 1990, called for monitoring of the facility. The court (Judge T. Graham) closed the case on April 26, 1994 but modified the Order of Dismissal so the action could remain under the court's supervision to monitor defendant's compliance with judgment. Litigation continued through July 1, 2004 concerning monitors' fees.
Regarding Bartkus's overcrowding case, an amended Motion for Class Certification was granted in October of 1991 and settlement discussions began in July of 1993. On March 28, 1996, Judge Bauer entered judgment in accordance with a settlement agreement submitted by the parties. According to the Settlement Agreement, improvements had already been made in the facility and the State of Connecticut had built additional correctional facilities, reducing overcrowded conditions. The facility at Somers was converted from a maximum security prison into a medium security prison and its name was changed to Osborn Correctional Institute. The agreement required that Osborn not increase its inmate population, continue operating as a medium security facility, and allow plaintiffs' lawyers access to the facility. Litigation continued through June 15, 2000, mainly concerning monitors' fees.Angela Heverling - 04/10/2006