On July 3, 1979, inmates at the Lorton Maximum Security Facility in Lorton, Virginia, filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the District of Columbia in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The plaintiffs asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging that their constitutional rights had been violated by exposure to the danger of violent assault and sexual abuse, understaffing, insufficient security procedures, inadequate classification procedures, and poor physical facilities.
The case was submitted to a jury, who ruled in favor of the plaintiffs. The jury awarded to each member of the class one dollar for each day of their confinement between July 4, 1976 and June 20, 1980. The district court (Judge William B. Bryant) supplemented that award with an injunction designed to ameliorate the conditions of confinement at the facility. The defendants appealed.
On January 11, 1983, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (Judge June L. Green) reversed and remanded the case, holding that: 1) the district court had abused its discretion in issuing a protective order forbidding disclosure by the defense counsel to defendants of information of specified sorts obtained during discovery; 2) the trial judge erred by not giving the jury an instruction foreclosing an interpretation of plaintiffs' counsel's closing argument that might have implied that the District of Columbia was legally responsible for the consequences of unauthorized actions of individual prison guards; and 3) the trial court committed reversible error in granting jury permission to compensate the prisoners for the value of their violated constitutional rights. Doe v. District of Columbia, 697 F.2d 1115 (D.D.C. 1983). Separate statements by Judges McKinnon, Edwards and Robb relative to this decision were subsequently filed. Doe v. District of Columbia, 701 F.2d 948 D.D.C. 1983)
On August 13, 1986, the district court (Judge Green) issued an order setting population caps for the prisons in question in the case. The defendants asked the court to stay the order, and on May 20, 1987, the court temporarily stayed the order pending further investigation. Doe v. District of Columbia, Nos. 79-1726, 80-2136, 86-2128, 1987 WL 11422 (D.D.C. May 20, 1987). On June 30, 1987, the district court further stayed the order. Doe v. District of Columbia, Nos. 79-1726, 80-2136, 86-2128, 1987 WL 13350 (D.D.C. June 30, 1987).
At some point before 1989, the parties entered into a partial consent decree in the case. On July 26, 1996, the parties entered into another consent decree concerning medical and mental healthcare for the prisoners and the court approved it.
On May 6, 2002, the defendants informed the district court that the facility in question had been permanently closed and asked the court to dismiss the case. On May 7, 2002, the district court (Judge William B. Bryant) granted the motion and dismissed the case.Kristen Sagar - 09/29/2006