University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Giles v. Coughlin PC-NY-0016
Docket / Court 95-3033 ( S.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
James Giles, an inmate at Great Meadow Correctional Facility in New York, filed a pro-se lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against the state Department of Corrections on April 28, 1995, alleging that his Eighth Amendment rights had been violated when he was ... read more >
James Giles, an inmate at Great Meadow Correctional Facility in New York, filed a pro-se lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against the state Department of Corrections on April 28, 1995, alleging that his Eighth Amendment rights had been violated when he was held in "medical keeplock" for refusing to take a test that would detect latent tuberculosis ("PPD test"). The conditions of confinement in medical keeplock were found unconstitutional in two other southern district cases subsequent to his filing, Williams v. Greifinger, 918 F.Supp. 91 (S.D.N.Y. 1996), and Jolly v. Coughlin, 894 F.Supp. 734 (S.D.N.Y. 1995), aff'd, 76 F.3d 468 (2d Cir. 1996)(PC-NY-014). On March 16, 1996, plaintiff and the Department of Corrections entered into a consent decree stating that "Plaintiff would not be placed in medical keeplock or have his status otherwise changed for the remainder of his sentence due to his refusal to take a PPD test."

On April 24, 1997, Defendants made an emergency application to the court for a modification to the consent decree; Giles had been identified as part of a contact trace--one of a first circle of 38 people identified as having been most exposed to tuberculosis ("TB"). Those in the first circle of a contact trace had to be tested for TB to determine whether it was necessary to test for exposure beyond that circle. If a member of the first circle refused to be tested, normal practice was to keep that person in TB hold for a year, until the chances of developing (and then spreading) TB had significantly decreased. The conditions of TB hold were significantly improved from those of the "medical keeplock," which had previously been found unconstitutional. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (Judge John F. Keenan) granted defendants application under the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA"), because the consent decree was no longer necessary to prevent a current or ongoing violation of a federal right. Giles v. Coughlin, 95-3033, 1997 WL 433437 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 1, 1997). The court upheld the termination in an August 13, 1997 opinion and order dismissing plaintiff's motion for reconsideration and denying plaintiff's application for a stay. Giles v. Coughlin, 95-3033, 1997 WL 466542 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 13, 1997) (Judge Keenan).

On December 11, 1997, the court reversed its April 24, 1997, decision to a certain extent. It held that consent decrees which are terminated under PLRA remain binding on the parties; termination under the PLRA simply means that the federal courts no longer retain jurisdiction to enforce the agreements. Plaintiffs, therefore, must seek relief (including specific performance) from state courts. So, the prospective relief (enforcement by the federal courts) granted under the original consent decree was terminated, but the parties were not free to ignore the terms of the original decree. The court denied defendants cross-motion for modification of the consent decree. Giles v. Coughlin, 95-3033, 1997 WL 770391 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 11, 1997) (Judge Keenan). Plaintiff's subsequent motion for attorney's fees was denied, because the court found the PLRA fee cap applied retroactively to services rendered after the date of enactment, even when the underlying cause of action pre-dated the enactment of the PLRA. Giles v. Coughlin, 95-3033, 1999 WL 1225248 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 21, 1999) (Judge Keenan).

Megan Raynor - 01/30/2006

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Disciplinary segregation
Medical/Mental Health
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983
Defendant(s) New York Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description Inmate who refused to take a tuberculosis test and was then placed in medical keeplock claiming that the conditions of his medical keeplock confinement violated his Eighth Amendment rights
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1996 - n/a
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Civil Rights Injunctions Over Time: A Case Study of Jail and Prison Court Orders
N.Y.U. Law Review
By: Margo Schlanger (Washington University)
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
By: Malcolm M. Feeley & Edward Rubin (UC Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law & Vanderbilt School of Law Faculty)
Citation: (1998)
[ Detail ]

Links Cruel Confinement: Abuse, Discrimination and Death Within Alabama's Prisons
Written: Jun. 04, 2014
(Southern Poverty Law Center )
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

95-CV-3033-JFK (S.D.N.Y.)
PC-NY-0016-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/21/1999
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Opinion and Order (1999 WL 1225248 / 1999 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 19586) (S.D.N.Y.)
PC-NY-0016-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 08/01/1997
Memorandum Opinion and Order (1997 WL 466542 / 1997 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 12062) (S.D.N.Y.)
PC-NY-0016-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 08/13/1997
Memorandum Opinion and Order (1997 WL 770391 / 1997 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 19663) (S.D.N.Y.)
PC-NY-0016-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 12/11/1997
Opinion and Order (1997 WL 433437 / 1997 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 11129) (S.D.N.Y.)
PC-NY-0016-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 12/21/1999
Judges Keenan, John Fontaine (FISC, S.D.N.Y.)
PC-NY-0016-0001 | PC-NY-0016-0002 | PC-NY-0016-0003 | PC-NY-0016-0004 | PC-NY-0016-9000
Peck, Andrew Jay (S.D.N.Y.)
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Karlan, Mitchell A. (New York)
Nam, Sue J. (New York)
Defendant's Lawyers Forman, Elizabeth A. (New York)
Lamberson, Kevin J. (New York)
Vacco, Dennis C. (New York)
Other Lawyers None on record

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