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Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Eng v. Smith PC-NY-0004
Docket / Court 80-0385 ( W.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Attorney Organization Legal Services/Legal Aid
Case Summary
On May 5, 1980, inmates of the Special Housing Unit in the Attica Correctional Facility in New York filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the New York Department of Corrections in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York. The plaintiffs, represented by ... read more >
On May 5, 1980, inmates of the Special Housing Unit in the Attica Correctional Facility in New York filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the New York Department of Corrections in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York. The plaintiffs, represented by the Legal Aid Society and Prisoners' Legal Services of New York, asked the Court for declaratory and injunctive relief and alleged the following constitutional violations: the use of excessive force by prison guards, inhibition of religious exercise, inadequate ventilation, inadequate exercise, inadequate health care, denial of food, lack of sanitation, deprivation of clothing, improper classification, and denial of access to courts.

On January 28, 1988, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York (Judge Michael A. Telesca) granted preliminary injunctive relief to the plaintiffs. The defendants appealed. On June 13, 1988, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (Judge Wilfred Feinberg) affirmed the District Court's decision to grant the preliminary injunction. Eng v. Smith, 849 F.2d 80 (2nd Cir. 1988).

Previously, on October 9, 1985, the prison correctional officers' union (Council 82) asked the District Court to allow them to intervene as defendants in the case. On April 1, 1988, the District Court (Judge Telesca) denied the request for intervention. The would-be interveners appealed. On January 12, 1989, the Second Circuit (Judge Joseph Edward Lumbard) dismissed the appeal. Eng v. Coughlin, 865 F.2d 521 (2nd Cir. 1989).

On November 2, 1992, the parties entered into a partial settlement agreement, which the District Court (Judge William Skretny) entered as a Consent Decree in the case. On February 10, 1995, the court approved a stipulated dismissal of the plaintiffs' claims regarding food, exercise, sanitation, and religion. On March 9, 1998, the District Court approved the voluntarily dismissal of plaintiffs' claims relating to the mental health issue.

Discovery and negotiations continued on the remaining issues for several years.

On April 29, 2002, the District Court approved the plaintiffs' voluntary stipulation of dismissal and dismissed without prejudice the remaining claims of inadequate access to the law library and to legal research materials for monolingual Spanish speaking inmates.

No further substantive action is reflected on the PACER docket.

Kristen Sagar - 11/09/2006

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Affected Gender
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Assault/abuse by staff
Bathing and hygiene
Classification / placement
Food service / nutrition / hydration
Law library access
Personal injury
Recreation / Exercise
Religious programs / policies
Sanitation / living conditions
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Suicide prevention
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Medical care, unspecified
Mental health care, general
Mental health care, unspecified
Suicide prevention
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) New York State Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description Present and past inmates of the Special Housing Unit at the Attica Correctional Facility in New York
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Legal Services/Legal Aid
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Voluntary Dismissal
Order Duration 1992 - 2002
Filing Year 1980
Case Closing Year 2002
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 ]

80-385 (W.D.N.Y.)
PC-NY-0004-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/06/2002
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
PC-NY-0004-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/06/1980
PC-NY-0004-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/05/1983
Opinion (849 F.2d 80)
PC-NY-0004-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 06/13/1988
Source: Google Scholar
Opinion (865 F.2d 521)
PC-NY-0004-0007.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 01/12/1989
Source: Google Scholar
Opinion and Order (1989 WL 63035 / 1989 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 6130) (S.D.N.Y.)
PC-NY-0004-0010.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 06/02/1989
Decision and Order (726 F.Supp. 40) (W.D.N.Y.)
PC-NY-0004-0008.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 11/22/1989
Source: Google Scholar
Opinion and Order (146 F.R.D. 74) (S.D.N.Y.)
PC-NY-0004-0009.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 02/01/1993
Source: Google Scholar
Report of Stuart Grassian, M.D.
PC-NY-0004-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/01/1999
Rule 41 Voluntary Stipulation of Dismissal Subject to Conditions
PC-NY-0004-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/01/2000
Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
Amended Rule 41 Voluntary Stipulation of Dismissal Subject to Conditions
PC-NY-0004-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/12/2000
Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
Judges Feinberg, Wilfred (S.D.N.Y., Second Circuit)
Lowe, Mary Johnson (S.D.N.Y.)
PC-NY-0004-0009 | PC-NY-0004-0010
Lumbard, Joseph Edward (Second Circuit)
Newman, Jon Ormond (D. Conn., Second Circuit)
Pratt, George Cheney (E.D.N.Y., Second Circuit)
PC-NY-0004-0006 | PC-NY-0004-0007
Skretny, William M. (W.D.N.Y.)
Telesca, Michael Anthony (W.D.N.Y.)
Plaintiff's Lawyers Draves, Karen (New York)
Gerken, Joseph (New York)
PC-NY-0004-0006 | PC-NY-0004-9000
Giacalone, Arthur J. (New York)
Januszewski, David (New York)
Jennings, Timothy E. (New York)
Kerr, Sarah (New York)
PC-NY-0004-0004 | PC-NY-0004-9000
Leven, David C. (New York)
PC-NY-0004-0006 | PC-NY-0004-0007
Lewis, Dori A. (New York)
Lonski, Robert (New York)
Macri, Joanne G (New York)
McCarthy, Michael W. (New York)
Pagano, Maria E (New York)
Richmond, Anna Marie (New York)
Stadler, Judith Subjeck (New York)
Sterling, Elizabeth [Betsy[ C. (New York)
Terrizzi, Thomas (New York)
PC-NY-0004-0004 | PC-NY-0004-9000
Torres, Edna Y. (New York)
Wagner, David L. (New York)
Defendant's Lawyers Abrams, Robert W. (New York)
PC-NY-0004-0006 | PC-NY-0004-0007 | PC-NY-0004-0010
Crary, Peter (New York)
PC-NY-0004-0006 | PC-NY-0004-0007
Cream, Douglas S. (New York)
Dunn, Ronald (New York)
Fitzgerald, Edmund (New York)
Fraser, Charles R. (New York)
Gawlik, Stephen (New York)
Goetz, Thomas (New York)
Henner, Peter (New York)
Hite, Robert S. (New York)
PC-NY-0004-0007 | PC-NY-0004-9000
McGrier, Jerry Sr. (New York)
Mehltretter, Kathleen M. (New York)
Molik, David (New York)
Murphy, Kim S (New York)
PC-NY-0004-0004 | PC-NY-0004-9000
O'Donnell, Brian (New York)
Schiff, Peter H. (New York)
Spiegel, Nancy A. (New York)
Spiegel, Joseph (New York)
Steinman, Charles (New York)
PC-NY-0004-0008 | PC-NY-0004-9000
Walsh, Mark T. (New York)
Other Lawyers Rowley, David C. (New York)

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