On January 28, 2003, seventeen current and former female inmates at the New York State Department of Correctional Services filed this lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York against two classes of defendants pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiffs alleged that the prison correctional staff engaged in repeated acts of sexual abuse and harassment against female inmates in New York state prisons. These alleged acts ranged in severity from verbal harassment to unwanted touching to coerced sexual intercourse to forcible rape. Further, plaintiffs alleged that the supervisory staff was aware of the sexual misconduct of the correctional staff but failed to stop it. The inmates, represented by counsel from the Prisoner's Rights Project as well as by private counsel, sought a declaratory judgment that the policies, practices, actions, and omissions of the supervisory staff violated their constitutional rights protected under the First, Fourth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments. Plaintiffs also sought an injunction enjoining the supervisory staff from subjecting the female inmates to the sexual misconduct of the correctional staff, and they requested an order compelling the defendants to formulate a plan to end this abuse. Plaintiffs also sought damages.
Plaintiffs filed a motion for class certification and a request for entry of default judgment. Additionally, both sets of defendants filed a motion to dismiss or for summary judgment. On September 13, 2005, the District Court (Judge Kevin Duffy) dismissed, for lack of standing, the claims for injunctive relief and declaratory judgment of plaintiffs who had been released from custody. The Court also ordered the parties to address whether plaintiffs' individual claims for damages were properly joined with one another and with the class claims for injunctive relief. Amador v. Dep't of Correctional Serv., No. 1:03CV650, 2005 U.S. Dist. WL 2234050 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 13, 2005).
On December 4, 2007, Judge Duffy dismissed all of the plaintiffs' claims, with the exception of the claims of plaintiff Shenyell Smith against Delroy Thorpe, for failure to exhaust their administrative remedies. In addition, Judge Duffy held that two of the plaintiff's claims for injunctive and declaratory relief had become moot, as they had both since been released. The Court also denied the motion for class certification. Amador v. Superintendents of Dept. of Correctional Services, 2007 WL 4326747 (S.D.N.Y. Dec 04, 2007). On April 23, 2008, the plaintiffs appealed this decision.
Regarding the claims of Shenyell Smith against defendant Thorpe, on June 10, 2010, Judge Duffy granted Shenyell Smith's motion for summary judgment. Officer Hudson had the opportunity to offer evidence contesting Smith's allegations that he violated her Eighth Amendment rights when he forcibly sodomized her on two separate occasion, but chose not to do so. On December 6, 2010, Judge Duffy granted defendant Thorpe's motion to sever the claims asserted against him from all other plaintiffs, as well as defendants Smith and Gilbert's for severance to transfer the case to the Western District of New York.
Regarding the appeal, on August 19, 2011, Judge Ralph K. Winter of the Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, held that three appellants had exhausted administrative remedies while the remaining ten had not. In addition, Judge Winter held that it was error for the district court to dismiss as moot the claims of the three individual plaintiffs even though they had been released from prison after the filing of the amended complaint. As a result, Judge Winter vacated the judgment in part and remanded for further proceedings for those three defendants. 655 F.3d 89 (2d Cir. 2011).
On July 26, 2012, plaintiff Shenyell Smith settled all of her claims against the defendants, who agreed to pay a total of $15,000 to Smith's attorney.
September 13, 2010 plaintiff Shantelle Smith moved to voluntarily dismiss all of her claims with prejudice because she reached a settlement with the Supervisory Defendants, the State of New York, and defendant James Hudson for all of her claims in this action and all claims she asserted against the State of New York in the New York Court of Claims, Claim No. 110268. The terms of the agreed settlement were set forth on March 27, 2012, and so ordered by Judge Scuccimarra in the New York Court of Claims, Claim No. 110268.
On July 1, 2015 the sole remaining plaintiff in this case, plaintiff Stephanie Dawson, reached a settlement agreement with the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision. In the settlement none of the defendants admitted fault or liability. Plaintiff Stephanie Dawson settled with the defendants for the amount of $10,000. Kristen Sagar - 01/08/2008
Jessica Kincaid - 11/06/2013
Erin Pamukcu - 01/31/2016