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Case Name Austin v. Wilkinson PC-OH-0001
Docket / Court 4:01-CV-71 ( N.D. Ohio )
State/Territory Ohio
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Special Collection Solitary confinement
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
Case Summary
On January 9, 2001, inmates at the Ohio State Penitentiary (OSP), represented by the ACLU, filed a Section 1983 class action suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio against officials of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. Plaintiffs alleged violations of ... read more >
On January 9, 2001, inmates at the Ohio State Penitentiary (OSP), represented by the ACLU, filed a Section 1983 class action suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio against officials of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. Plaintiffs alleged violations of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. Specifically, plaintiffs complained of inadequate medical and mental health services, improper classification and transfer procedures, and inadequate suicide prevention procedures.

Following discovery, the District Court (Judge James S. Gwin) granted plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction preventing defendants from returning seriously mentally ill inmates to OSP and set trial for January 2002. Prior to the trial, the parties agreed to a limited settlement agreement that addressed the classification of inmates, and the inadequacy of the medical and mental health services. In April 2002, following a fairness hearing, the court approved the settlement agreement.

Following the trial, Judge Gwin held that defendants had violated the plaintiff class's right to due process by denying the plaintiffs adequate notice, adequate hearing, and sufficiently detailed decisions regarding transfer. Austin v. Wilkinson, 189 F. Supp. 2d 719 (N.D. Ohio 2002). Following receipt of the parties' proposed injunctive orders, Judge Gwin issued an injunction directing defendants to correct each of the deficiencies the court had found. Austin v. Wilkinson, 204 F. Supp. 2d 1024 (N.D. Ohio 2002). Defendants appealed.

The Court of Appeals affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded, holding that the district court lacked the power to modify substantive prison regulations. Austin v. Wilkinson, 372 F.3d 346 (2004). Prison officials applied for certiorari which was granted.

The Supreme Court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. Writing for the majority, Justice Kennedy held that although the inmates had a liberty interest protected by the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause in avoiding assignment to the supermax prison, the State's new policy and procedures were sufficient to satisfy due process. Wilkinson v. Austin, 125 S. Ct. 2384 (2005).

On August 3, 2006, the District Court (Judge Gwin) granted the defendants' motion to terminate the medical provisions of the injunctive order.

On September 27, 2007, Judge Gwin granted in part and denied in part plaintiffs' motion for order directing defendants to modify their proposed prison administration policies. Judge Gwin ordered defendants to 1) consider and communicate in sufficient detail inmates' positive behavior during the annual review process; 2) provide more justification for security assessments; and 3) revise the election form to better communicate the consequences of choosing to remain at OSP and thereby waiving certain rights. 2007 WL 2840352.

On October 18, 2007, Judge Gwin denied plaintiffs' motion to vacate the previous judgment and reopen mental health claims, which they brought over five years ago and which they agreed as resolved through the Court's earlier findings and orders. 2007 WL 3047157.

Defendants appealed the September 27, 2007, order and moved to stay that order pending appeal. On January 10, 2008, Judge Gwin denied defendants' motion to stay pending appeal because 1) defendants were unlikely to prevail on their appeal; 2) defendants were unlikely to suffer irreparable harm absent a stay; 3) others faced harm if the Court granted the stay; and 4) the stay was not in the public interest. 2008 WL 115094.

On March 12, 2008, Judge Gwin denied plaintiffs' motion to extend the jurisdiction of the Court over this case for another year and granted defendants' motion to terminate the prospective relief provided by the Court's previous orders because defendants were no longer committing ongoing constitutional violations. 2008 WL 697679.

On July 16, 2008, the parties reached a settlement agreement and agreed to terminate the case. Defendants agreed to pay $59,000 in attorneys' fees and costs. As such, on August 4, 2008, the appeal to the Sixth Circuit was dismissed.

Kristen Sagar - 08/16/2007
Jessica Kincaid - 11/08/2013

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Affected Gender
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Classification / placement
Solitary confinement/Supermax (conditions or process)
Medical/Mental Health
Mental health care, general
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983
Defendant(s) Ohio
Plaintiff Description inmates at the Ohio State Penitentiary
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se Unknown
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2002 - n/a
Filing Year 2001
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 ]

  The Oyez Project, Wilkinson v. Austin, 545 U.S. ___ (2005).
Date: Jun. 13, 2005
By: Oyez Project (IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law)
[ Detail ] [ 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 ]

4:01-CV-71 (N.D. Ohio)
PC-OH-0001-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/04/2008
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Declaratory Judgment and Injunctive Relief
PC-OH-0001-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/26/2001
Order [ECF# 134] (N.D. Ohio)
PC-OH-0001-0017.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/21/2001
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Level 4/Level 5 Classification for Inmates
PC-OH-0001-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/07/2002
Opinion and Order (189 F.Supp.2d 719) (N.D. Ohio)
PC-OH-0001-0010.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 02/25/2002
Source: Google Scholar
Plaintiffs' Proposed Injunctive Order
PC-OH-0001-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/08/2002
Order (204 F.Supp.2d 1024) (N.D. Ohio)
PC-OH-0001-0011.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 03/26/2002
Source: Google Scholar
Stipulation for Injunctive Relief
PC-OH-0001-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/05/2002
Order (2002 WL 32828650) (N.D. Ohio)
PC-OH-0001-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 04/05/2002
Order (N.D. Ohio)
PC-OH-0001-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/15/2002
Order (2002 WL 32828651) (N.D. Ohio)
PC-OH-0001-0016.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 07/12/2002
Opinion (372 F.3d 346)
PC-OH-0001-0012.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 10/30/2003
Source: Google Scholar
Memorandum Decision [ECF# 823] (543 U.S. 1032)
PC-OH-0001-0015.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 12/10/2004
Brief of Professors and Practitioners of Psychology and Psychiatry as Amicus Curiae in Support of Respondent
PC-OH-0001-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/03/2005
Source: Westlaw
Opinion (545 U.S. 209)
PC-OH-0001-0018.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 06/13/2005
Source: Westlaw
Opinion (2006 WL 2233229) (N.D. Ohio)
PC-OH-0001-0008.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 08/03/2006
Opinion & Order (Granting in Part and Denying in Part Plaintiffs' Motion) [ECF# 765] (2007 WL 2840352) (N.D. Ohio)
PC-OH-0001-0013.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 09/27/2007
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Joint Motion For Final Application of Attorney Fees and Joint Motion to Terminate and Close Case [ECF# 823]
PC-OH-0001-0014.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/16/2008
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Forester, Karl Spillman (E.D. Ky.)
Gwin, James S. (N.D. Ohio)
PC-OH-0001-0001 | PC-OH-0001-0003 | PC-OH-0001-0004 | PC-OH-0001-0005 | PC-OH-0001-0006 | PC-OH-0001-0008 | PC-OH-0001-0010 | PC-OH-0001-0011 | PC-OH-0001-0013 | PC-OH-0001-0016 | PC-OH-0001-0017 | PC-OH-0001-9000
Kennedy, Anthony McLeod (Ninth Circuit, SCOTUS)
Moore, Karen Nelson (Sixth Circuit)
Rogers, John M. (Sixth Circuit)
Plaintiff's Lawyers Alexander, Elizabeth R. (District of Columbia)
Benza, Michael J. (Ohio)
PC-OH-0001-0006 | PC-OH-0001-0010 | PC-OH-0001-0011 | PC-OH-0001-0016 | PC-OH-0001-0018 | PC-OH-0001-9000
Davis, Jillian S. (Ohio)
PC-OH-0001-0006 | PC-OH-0001-0010 | PC-OH-0001-0011 | PC-OH-0001-9000
Gamso, Jeffrey M. (Ohio)
PC-OH-0001-0018 | PC-OH-0001-9000
Gilbert, Terry H. (Ohio)
PC-OH-0001-0006 | PC-OH-0001-0010 | PC-OH-0001-0011 | PC-OH-0001-0016 | PC-OH-0001-0018 | PC-OH-0001-9000
Goodman, Bill (New York)
PC-OH-0001-0001 | PC-OH-0001-0006 | PC-OH-0001-0010 | PC-OH-0001-0011 | PC-OH-0001-0016 | PC-OH-0001-9000
Lobel, Jules L. (Pennsylvania)
PC-OH-0001-0006 | PC-OH-0001-0010 | PC-OH-0001-0011 | PC-OH-0001-0012 | PC-OH-0001-0016 | PC-OH-0001-0018 | PC-OH-0001-9000
Lynd, Staughton (Ohio)
PC-OH-0001-0006 | PC-OH-0001-0010 | PC-OH-0001-0011 | PC-OH-0001-0016 | PC-OH-0001-0018 | PC-OH-0001-9000
Lynd, Alice (Ohio)
PC-OH-0001-0006 | PC-OH-0001-0010 | PC-OH-0001-0011 | PC-OH-0001-0011 | PC-OH-0001-0012 | PC-OH-0001-0016 | PC-OH-0001-9000
Petro, Jim (Ohio)
Vasvari, Raymond V. Jr. (Ohio)
PC-OH-0001-0001 | PC-OH-0001-0006 | PC-OH-0001-0010 | PC-OH-0001-0011 | PC-OH-0001-0012 | PC-OH-0001-0016 | PC-OH-0001-0018 | PC-OH-0001-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Angell, Robert C. (Ohio)
PC-OH-0001-0016 | PC-OH-0001-9000
Arbogast, Janet R Hill (Ohio)
Carney, Stephen P. (Ohio)
Cole, Douglas R. (Ohio)
Holloway, James Eric (Ohio)
PC-OH-0001-0014 | PC-OH-0001-9000
Landes, Mark David (Ohio)
PC-OH-0001-0010 | PC-OH-0001-0011 | PC-OH-0001-0016 | PC-OH-0001-9000
Mancini, Joseph Matthew (Ohio)
PC-OH-0001-0001 | PC-OH-0001-0010 | PC-OH-0001-0011 | PC-OH-0001-0016 | PC-OH-0001-9000
Marti, Todd Robert (Ohio)
PC-OH-0001-0012 | PC-OH-0001-0016 | PC-OH-0001-0018 | PC-OH-0001-9000
Montgomery, Betty D. (Ohio)
O'Brien, Carol Hamilton (Ohio)
PC-OH-0001-0010 | PC-OH-0001-0011 | PC-OH-0001-0016 | PC-OH-0001-9000
Payer, Charissa D. (Ohio)
PC-OH-0001-0016 | PC-OH-0001-9000
Pressman, Marianne (Ohio)
PC-OH-0001-0010 | PC-OH-0001-0011 | PC-OH-0001-0016 | PC-OH-0001-9000
Rogers, Nancy H. (Ohio)
Stankunas, Jeffrey A. (Ohio)
PC-OH-0001-0010 | PC-OH-0001-0011 | PC-OH-0001-0016 | PC-OH-0001-9000
Other Lawyers Deutsch, Michael (Illinois)
Maynard, Deanne (District of Columbia)

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