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Case Name Langford v. Racicot PC-MT-0001
Docket / Court 6:92-cv-00013-JCL ( D. Mont. )
State/Territory Montana
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Prison Conditions
Attorney Organization ACLU National (all projects)
ACLU National Prison Project
Case Summary
On February 13, 1992, inmates at the Montana State Penitentiary filed a pro se lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Montana Department of Corrections in the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana. The plaintiffs alleged that their constitutional rights had been violated by poor ... read more >
On February 13, 1992, inmates at the Montana State Penitentiary filed a pro se lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Montana Department of Corrections in the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana. The plaintiffs alleged that their constitutional rights had been violated by poor medical care, dental care, and mental health care, overcrowding, fire hazards, environmental hazards, and security hazards, programming of prisoners, classification procedures, access to the prison for disabled inmates, and physical abuse by prison guards resulting in injury and death of inmates. On September 4, 1992, attorneys from the National Prison Project of the American Civil Liberties Union entered the case to represent the plaintiffs. On July 23, 1993, the district court (Magistrate Judge Leif B. Erickson) certified the plaintiffs as a class, consisting of the current plaintiffs and other similarly situated inmates in the Maximum Security Unit since July 1, 1988 and in the future.

On October 28, 1994, the parties entered into a settlement agreement, and the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana (Magistrate Judge Erickson) granted preliminary approval. The agreement covered the areas of medical staffing, tuberculosis screening for inmates, intake medical screening, sick call, access to medication, annual physicals for prisoners, eye care, dental care, mental health care, out of cell recreation, preventive maintenance for prison buildings, compliance with public health and fire codes, objective classification, development of a disciplinary handbook, priority for treatment programs, maximum security procedures, staff supervision and training procedures, a prison-wide intercom system, procedures for use of force, population caps, revision of good time statutes, additional administrative staff, annual review of treatment plans, coordination with the parole board, and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. On November 28, 1994, the U.S. Department of Justice filed notice of objections to the settlement agreement. On November 29, 1994, the district court (Judge Erickson) approved the settlement agreement.

On March 30, 1995, the plaintiffs asked the court to award them attorneys' fees and expenses. On November 9, 1995, the district court (Judge Erickson) ordered the defendants to pay $232,131.44 in attorneys' fees and expenses. Both the plaintiffs and the defendants appealed the award. On April 29, 1996, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit dismissed the appeals and affirmed the district court's decision, ordering both parties to pay their own costs on appeal.

On June 25, 1997, the defendants asked the court to dismiss the portions of the complaint dealing with the areas where they had already substantially complied with the settlement agreement. On August 1, 1997, the district court (Judge Erickson) found the defendants partially substantially compliant and granted the defendants' motion to dismiss in the areas of out of cell time, coordination with the parole board, annual review of treatment plans, priority for treatment programs, creation of a disciplinary handbook, use of force, revision of good time statutes, and additional administrative staff.

On October 9, 1998, the plaintiffs asked the court to award them reasonable attorneys' fees and expenses for the litigation period following the first award of attorneys' fees. On September 30, 1999, the district court (Judge Erickson) granted the plaintiffs' second request for attorneys' fees and expenses. The court ordered the plaintiffs to advise the court on how much additional billable time they had spent on the litigation. Langford v. Racicot, 1999 WL 33208662 (D.Mont. Sept. 30, 1999). On February 29, 2000, the parties advised the court that the motion for attorneys' fees had been resolved privately, and that all plaintiff parties had been paid.

Earlier, on January 27, 1999, the district court (Judge Erickson) held that the defendants were substantially compliant in all areas except the tuberculosis screening, and the court dismissed those complaints accordingly. On September 9, 1999, these issues were dismissed as well.

On June 24, 2013, plaintiffs moved for specific performance under the settlement agreement, claiming that defendants were not in compliance with the agreement's ADA provision. And, on November 11, 2013, Magistrate Judge Jeremiah C. Lynch, now monitoring the case, granted the parties' stipulated motion to extend the monitoring period. The parties were to submit a final list of remaining issues by March 2014. On February 12, 2016, the court again granted the parties' stipulated motion to extend the monitoring period until August 12, 2016. The parties jointly moved for class action settlement on March 2, 2017. This Settlement Agreement was intended to resolve the parties' only remaining dispute from the 1994 Settlement Agreement, the integration of disabled prisoners into housing, facilities, programs, and services as required by the ADA. As of November 1, 2018, the court has not yet addressed this Settlement Agreement.

The parties moved jointly for a separate Settlement Agreement regarding prison conditions on January 19, 2018. The court denied this Settlement Agreement on January 24, 2018. Although the court generally accepted the terms of the agreement, it did not wish to retain jurisdiction over the matter, and requested that the parties revise their motion to include an alternative procedure for dispute resolution, such as binding arbitration. The parties jointly moved for the court to approve their revised Settlement Agreement on February 23, 2018, and the court approved the Settlement Agreement on February 27, 2018. The parties acknowledged that the defendant had moved significantly toward compliance in two major areas: barrier removal and policy change, and reached a resolution toward full compliance in the remaining disputed areas.

On June 19, 2018, the court entered judgment in accordance with the February 23, 2018, Class Action Settlement Agreement, and gave the Agreement final approval. The court left open the possibility of appointing a Special Master if future disagreements arise from the terms of the Settlement Agreement, but the case is presumably closed.

Kristen Sagar - 08/02/2007
Alex Wharton - 12/02/2014
Elizabeth Heise - 11/01/2018

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process
Freedom of speech/association
Unreasonable search and seizure
Content of Injunction
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Discrimination Prohibition
Implement complaint/dispute resolution process
Other requirements regarding hiring, promotion, retention
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
Classification / placement
Disparate Impact
Disparate Treatment
Excessive force
Fire safety
Pattern or Practice
Recreation / Exercise
Sanitation / living conditions
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Medical/Mental Health
Dental care
Medical care, general
Mental health care, general
Type of Facility
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Montana Department of Corrections
Montana State Prison
Plaintiff Description inmates at the Montana State Penitentiary
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU National (all projects)
ACLU National Prison Project
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se Yes
Prevailing Party Mixed
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1994 - n/a
Filing Year 1992
Case Closing Year 2018
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  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 ]

92-13 (D. Mont.)
PC-MT-0001-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/19/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Fifth Amended Complaint
PC-MT-0001-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/30/1993
Settlement Agreement
PC-MT-0001-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/26/1994
Notice of Settlement
PC-MT-0001-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/29/1994
Order [approving Settlement Agreement]
PC-MT-0001-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/29/1994
Joint Stipulation Regarding Medical Care
PC-MT-0001-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/26/1996
Order (D. Mont.)
PC-MT-0001-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/26/1996
Order to Dismiss Portions of Complaint in Accordance with Parties' Settlement Agreement of October 1994 (D. Mont.)
PC-MT-0001-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/01/1997
Second Joint Stipulation Regarding Medical Care
PC-MT-0001-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/26/1998
Order (1999 WL 33208662) (D. Mont.)
PC-MT-0001-0009.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 09/30/1999
Joint Motion to Approve Stipulation [ECF# 333]
PC-MT-0001-0010.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/12/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Joint Submission of Revised Settlement Agreement [ECF# 354]
PC-MT-0001-0011.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/23/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 355] (D. Mont.)
PC-MT-0001-0012.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/27/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order and Judgment [ECF# 371] (D. Mont.)
PC-MT-0001-0013.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/19/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Erickson, Leif B. (D. Mont.)
PC-MT-0001-0001 | PC-MT-0001-0002 | PC-MT-0001-0003 | PC-MT-0001-0004 | PC-MT-0001-0005 | PC-MT-0001-0006 | PC-MT-0001-0007 | PC-MT-0001-0008 | PC-MT-0001-0009
Lynch, Jeremiah C Court not on record [Magistrate]
PC-MT-0001-0012 | PC-MT-0001-0013
Plaintiff's Lawyers Balaban, Eric G. (District of Columbia)
PC-MT-0001-0005 | PC-MT-0001-0007 | PC-MT-0001-0010 | PC-MT-0001-0011 | PC-MT-0001-9000
Brenneman, Beth (Montana)
Conley, Anna (Montana)
Ellingson, Jon (Montana)
PC-MT-0001-0011 | PC-MT-0001-9000
Kashani, Hamid R. (Indiana)
Koren, Edward I. (District of Columbia)
PC-MT-0001-0001 | PC-MT-0001-0005 | PC-MT-0001-9000
Lopez, Mark J. (District of Columbia)
PC-MT-0001-0001 | PC-MT-0001-0002 | PC-MT-0001-0003 | PC-MT-0001-0005 | PC-MT-0001-9000
Quereshi, Ajmel (District of Columbia)
Rate, Alexander H. (Montana)
PC-MT-0001-0011 | PC-MT-0001-9000
Robertson, Amy Farr (Colorado)
PC-MT-0001-0011 | PC-MT-0001-9000
Sheehy, Edmund F. Jr. (Montana)
PC-MT-0001-0001 | PC-MT-0001-0005 | PC-MT-0001-0007 | PC-MT-0001-9000
Winter, Margaret (District of Columbia)
PC-MT-0001-0005 | PC-MT-0001-9000
Wurster, Scott C. (Montana)
PC-MT-0001-0001 | PC-MT-0001-0005 | PC-MT-0001-0007 | PC-MT-0001-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Ambrose, Colleen E (Montana)
PC-MT-0001-0011 | PC-MT-0001-9000
French, Rebekah (Montana)
Keller, P. Keith (Montana)
PC-MT-0001-0001 | PC-MT-0001-0002 | PC-MT-0001-0005 | PC-MT-0001-0007 | PC-MT-0001-0008 | PC-MT-0001-9000
Koch, Diana (Montana)
Kradolfer, Kimberly A. (Montana)
McCarthy, McKenzie V. (Montana)
PC-MT-0001-0010 | PC-MT-0001-9000
Ohler, David L. (Montana)
PC-MT-0001-0001 | PC-MT-0001-0002 | PC-MT-0001-0003 | PC-MT-0001-0005 | PC-MT-0001-0007 | PC-MT-0001-0008 | PC-MT-0001-9000
White, Colleen Graham (Montana)

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