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 ...
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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