Pretrial detainees, incarcerated in Cook County, Illinois, were in need of mental health care; they brought this suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois under 42 U.S.C. §1983 alleging that state and county officials failed to provide it. After several years of negotiations under court supervision, the parties settled the case by consent order (the "Agreed Order") in 1978. Among other things, the Agreed Order ordered the Defendants to follow certain procedures respecting the screening of plaintiff class members for mental illness and the treatment of class members for mental illness; to ensure that such screening and treatment were provided by qualified personnel; and to ensure adequate security staffing for mental health treatment units.
On October 19, 1979, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (Judge Frank J. McGarr) awarded the plaintiffs $25,000 in attorneys' fees pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1988. Judge McGarr held that the pretrial detainees had prevailed against all of the defendants. After subsequent litigation to determine the allocation of payment of the attorneys' fees, the district court ordered Cook County to pay 80% and the state to pay 20% of the fee award.
Illinois officials appealed, arguing that the allocation of 20% of the attorneys' fee award against the state constituted an abuse of discretion. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals (Judge Wilbur Frank Pell, Jr.) affirmed the district court's decision, holding that the state Department of Mental Health had participated in the settlement agreement and had taken certain steps to alleviate deficiencies in the mental health treatment of pretrial detainees as a result of their lawsuit. Harrington v. DeVito, 656 F.2d 264 (7th Cir. 1981). Therefore, the pretrial detainees had prevailed against the state defendants, justifying the award of attorneys' fees. The Court also found that the apportionment of 20% of the attorneys' fee award against the state did not constitute an abuse of discretion.
The docket for the early part of the case was not available on PACER, and accordingly, we do not have further information on that part of the litigation.
The PACER docket begins in 1997, by which time the case was before Judge James B. Zogel. It shows litigation from 1997 through 2000 concerning compliance with the court's order and attorney fee awards. In 2003, the State Department of Human Services moved to terminate the part of the consent decree that governed its conduct. This motion was granted on July 7, 2004.
No further litigation occurred until September 2009 when another detainee moved to intervene but was denied the motion for being untimely. After another lull in litigation, the parties moved for voluntary dismissal of the case, with prejudice.
The motion to dismiss explained that on May 13, 2010, the United States, had filed United States v. Cook County, 10-cv-2946 (N.D. Ill.), involving the same jail, under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act, 42 U.S.C. §1997 ("CRIPA"); along with the complaint, the parties filed a settlement, which the district court approved on May 26, 2010. (The U.S. v. Cook County case is JC-IL-0048
in this Clearinghouse; there's much more detail in that case record.) In Harrington (and Duran, another case about the same jail--see JC-IL-0002
in this Clearinghouse), the parties explained to the court that the U.S. v. Cook County order was substantially more comprehensive than the extant court orders, and secured for the plaintiff classes all the relief those earlier orders could have gotten them, plus more. In addition, they said, "the Consent Decree in Duran and Agreed Order in Harrington also threaten to complicate enforcement of the 2010 Agreed Order and the 2011 Supplementary Orders in United States v. Cook County." Accordingly, they sought final dismissal of the older cases. The Court agreed on November 30, 2011. The case is now closed.Kristen Sagar - 05/24/2007
Virginia Weeks - 10/17/2016