University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name Burks v. Walsh PC-MO-0005
Docket / Court 75-149 ( W.D. Mo. )
State/Territory Missouri
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
Inmates of the Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City, Missouri, brought a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri under 42 U.S.C. §1983 alleging that they were confined under conditions and subjected to practices that deprived them of ... read more >
Inmates of the Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City, Missouri, brought a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri under 42 U.S.C. §1983 alleging that they were confined under conditions and subjected to practices that deprived them of constitutional rights, including the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment and the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of due process. The plaintiff class was represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The plaintiffs alleged that they were confined in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, that they had inadequate medical care, that they were unlawfully subjected to the administration of behavior modifying drugs, that unqualified persons were admitted to practice medicine in the prison, and that inmates were denied constitutionally required procedural rights before being confined to the punitive isolation unit of the prison referred to as the ""Adjustment Center."" By agreement, an order was entered setting the case for trial on September 25, 1978, severing issues, and limiting the issue to be tried to the question of whether there existed at the prison unconstitutional overcrowding and unsanitary conditions. The trial record indicated that the prison cells were designed for single occupancy, yet some of these single person cells were occupied by three people (triple-celling) and others were occupied by two people (double-celling).

On November 3, 1978, the District Court (Judge Elmo B. Hunter) held that triple-celling of inmates and to some extent double-celling was unconstitutional and had to be eliminated. Burks v. Walsh, 461 F.Supp. 454 (W.D.Mo. 1978). Judge Hunter ordered a future hearing to be held to determine a remedy. After that hearing, on November 21, 1978, Judge Hunter set a time table for the elimination of unconstitutional overcrowding and retained jurisdiction of the case. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit (Judge Jesse Smith Henley) affirmed the District Court's decision by holding that the District Court had not abused its discretion in directing that the unconstitutional overcrowding in state prisons be eliminated and in setting timetable for the elimination. Burks v. Teasdale, 603 F.2d 59 (8th Cir. 1979).

Regarding the second portion of the class complaint dealing with deficiencies in the medical treatment at the hospital in the state prison, the District Court (Judge Elmo B. Hunter) ruled on May 23, 1980, that the performance of surgery by non-physicians during non-emergency situations at the hospital exhibited a gross deliberate indifference to serious medical needs of inmates requiring surgical services at the hospital and would not be constitutionally tolerated. Burks v. Teasdale, 492 F.Supp. 650 (W.D.Mo. 1980). However, Judge Hunter also held that background qualifications, experience, and ongoing training of medical assistants and inmate personnel at the hospital were not constitutionally deficient and that it was unnecessary to enter an order requiring an evaluative review of the qualifications of paraprofessional personnel at the hospital.

The docket for this case is not available on PACER, therefore no further information is available. Presumably it is long-since ended.

Tom Madison - 04/07/2006

compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process
Crowding / caseload
Administrative segregation
Disciplinary procedures
Disciplinary segregation
Sanitation / living conditions
Totality of conditions
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Medication, administration of
Type of Facility
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Missouri State Penitentiary
Plaintiff Description inmates of the Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City, Missouri
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se Unknown
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Order Duration 1978 - n/a
Filed 1975
Case Ongoing No reason to think so
Additional Resources
click to show/hide detail
  Civil Rights Injunctions Over Time: A Case Study of Jail and Prison Court Orders
N.Y.U. Law Review
Date: May 2006
By: Margo Schlanger (Washington University Faculty)
Citation: 81 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 550 (2006)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

  Judicial Policy Making and the Modern State: How the Courts Reformed America's Prisons
Date: Jan. 1, 1998
By: Malcolm M. Feeley & Edward Rubin (UC Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law & Vanderbilt School of Law Faculty Faculty)
Citation: (1998)
[ Detail ]

No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
Opinion (461 F.Supp. 454) (W.D. Mo.)
PC-MO-0005-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 11/03/1978
Source: Google Scholar
Reported Opinion (603 F.2d 59)
PC-MO-0005-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 08/08/1979
Source: Google Scholar
Opinion (492 F.Supp. 650) (W.D. Mo.)
PC-MO-0005-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 05/23/1980
Source: Google Scholar
show all people docs
Judges Henley, Jesse Smith (E.D. Ark., W.D. Ark., Eighth Circuit) show/hide docs
Hunter, Elmo Bolton (W.D. Mo.) show/hide docs
PC-MO-0005-0001 | PC-MO-0005-0003
Plaintiff's Lawyers Hoare, Michael J. (Missouri) show/hide docs
PC-MO-0005-0001 | PC-MO-0005-0002 | PC-MO-0005-0003
Defendant's Lawyers Boicourt, Michael L. (Missouri) show/hide docs
PC-MO-0005-0001 | PC-MO-0005-0002 | PC-MO-0005-0003

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -