University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Wilson v. Seiter PC-OH-0017
Docket / Court 86-1046 ( S.D. Ohio )
State/Territory Ohio
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Case Summary
In 1986, inmates of the Hocking Correctional Facility filed a Section 1983 suit, pro se, in the Southern District of Ohio against officials of the facility. Plaintiffs claimed violations of the Eighth Amendment, specifically alleging overcrowding, excessive noise, inadequate storage, inadequate ... read more >
In 1986, inmates of the Hocking Correctional Facility filed a Section 1983 suit, pro se, in the Southern District of Ohio against officials of the facility. Plaintiffs claimed violations of the Eighth Amendment, specifically alleging overcrowding, excessive noise, inadequate storage, inadequate heating and cooling, unclean lavatories, improper classification of prisoners, and unsanitary eating conditions. In 1991 the ACLU National Prison Project agreed to represent plaintiff.

The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment and the district court found in favor of the defendants. Plaintiffs appealed and the Court of Appeals affirmed. The Sixth Circuit (Judge James Harvey) held that appellants' claims of constitutional violations did not arise from specific conditions previously found to violate the Eighth Amendment and that the appellants failed to establish that prison conditions were a product of ""obduracy and wantonness and not mere negligence."" Wilson v. Seiter, 893 F.2d 861 (6th Cir. 1990).

Plaintiffs' petition for writ of certiorari was granted. Wilson v. Seiter, 498 U.S. 808 (1990). The Supreme Court vacated and remanded. Writing for the majority, Justice Scalia held that Eighth Amendment prison claims require an objective and subjective component. Plaintiffs must show that the conditions are objectively cruel and unusual and that they are the result of ""deliberate indifference"" by prison officials. The majority also held that the courts should not question the constitutionality of all conditions in their ""totality"" unless they ""have a mutually enforcing effect that produces the deprivation of a single, identifiable human need."" Wilson v. Seiter, 501 U.S. 294 (1991).

After reconsideration applying the ""deliberate indifference"" standard, the District Court (Judge James L. Graham) granted defendants' motion for summary judgment and dismissed the case in a March 1992 opinion and order. Plaintiffs appealed, but the Court of Appeals affirmed.

Eoghan Keenan - 07/15/2005


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
General
Classification / placement
Food service / nutrition / hydration
Sanitation / living conditions
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983
Defendant(s) Hocking Correctional Facility
Plaintiff Description Inmates alleging cruel and unusual punishments
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief Litigation
Order Duration 1992 - n/a
Case Closing Year 1992
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  Cruel Confinement: Abuse, Discrimination and Death Within Alabama's Prisons
Date: Jun 4, 2014
(Southern Poverty Law Center )
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  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)
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
Date: Jan 1, 1998
By: Malcolm M. Feeley & Edward Rubin (UC Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law & Vanderbilt School of Law Faculty)
Citation: (1998)
[ Detail ]

  The Oyer Project, Wilson v Seiter, 501 U.S. 294 (1991)
www.oyez.org
Date: Jun 17, 1991
By: Oyez Project (IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
86-1046 (S.D. Ohio)
PC-OH-0017-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/23/1993
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Reported Opinion (893 F.2d 861)
PC-OH-0017-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 01/16/1990
Source: Google Scholar
Memorandum Decision (498 U.S. 808)
PC-OH-0017-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 10/01/1990
Source: Westlaw
Brief for the United States as Amicus Curiae
PC-OH-0017-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/01/1990
Source: Papers of Alexander (Sandy) Ross
Memorandum Decision (498 U.S. 1010)
PC-OH-0017-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 12/10/1990
Source: Westlaw
Reported Opinion (501 U.S. 294)
PC-OH-0017-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 06/17/1991
Source: Westlaw
Order (940 F.2d 664)
PC-OH-0017-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 07/29/1991
Judges Abel, Mark R. (S.D. Ohio)
PC-OH-0017-9000
Blackmun, Harry Andrew Court not on record
PC-OH-0017-0003
Graham, James L. Court not on record
PC-OH-0017-9000
Harvey, James Court not on record
PC-OH-0017-0001 | PC-OH-0017-0002
Kennedy, Anthony McLeod Court not on record
PC-OH-0017-0003
Krupansky, Robert B. Court not on record
PC-OH-0017-0001 | PC-OH-0017-0002
Marshall, Thurgood Court not on record
PC-OH-0017-0003
O'Connor, Sandra Day Court not on record
PC-OH-0017-0003
Rehnquist, William Hubbs Court not on record
PC-OH-0017-0003
Scalia, Antonin Court not on record
PC-OH-0017-0003
Souter, David Hackett Court not on record
PC-OH-0017-0003
Stevens, John Paul Court not on record
PC-OH-0017-0003
Wellford, Harry Walker Court not on record
PC-OH-0017-0001 | PC-OH-0017-0002
White, Byron Raymond Court not on record
PC-OH-0017-0003
Plaintiff's Lawyers Alexander, Elizabeth R. (District of Columbia)
PC-OH-0017-0003 | PC-OH-0017-9000
Chesley, Stanley Morris (Ohio)
PC-OH-0017-0001
Defendant's Lawyers Eppler, Rita S. (Ohio)
PC-OH-0017-0003
Schoch, Frederick C. (Ohio)
PC-OH-0017-0001
Other Lawyers Bryson, William Curtis (District of Columbia)
PC-OH-0017-0003
Dunne, John R. (District of Columbia)
PC-OH-0017-0006
Starr, Kenneth Winston (District of Columbia)
PC-OH-0017-0006

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