University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Disability Law Center v. Massachusetts Department of Correction PC-MA-0026
Docket / Court 1:07-cv-10463-MLW ( D. Mass. )
State/Territory Massachusetts
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Prison Conditions
Special Collection Post-PLRA Jail and Prison Private Settlement Agreements
Solitary confinement
Attorney Organization NDRN/Protection & Advocacy Organizations
Case Summary
On March 8, 2007, the Disability Law Center ("DLC") filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §12131, and § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. §794 against the Massachusetts ... read more >
On March 8, 2007, the Disability Law Center ("DLC") filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §12131, and § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. §794 against the Massachusetts Department of Correction ("DOC"). The DLC is the agency designated by the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness Act, 42 U.S.C. §§10801 et seq. to pursue legal, administrative, and other appropriate remedies to ensure that individuals with mental illnesses confined in Massachusetts prisons are protected from abuse and neglect.

DLC claimed that the DOC failed to take into account mental illness when subjecting prisoners to long periods of disciplinary and other forms of isolation and segregation. The plaintiff asked the court for declaratory and injunctive relief, claiming that isolation of mentally ill prisoners constitutes cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, and that DOC's failure to address the problem violates both the Rehabilitation Act and the American with Disabilities Act.

The parties began settlement negotiations in November 2007 and in 2008 sought mediation from the court. For two years the parties were unsuccessful in their negotiations, and on August 12, 2010, the court lifted a stay on discovery. 2010 WL 3199883. Extensive discovery ensued, and eventually, the parties renewed negotiations. In December 2011, the parties reached a settlement and sought court approval.

On April 12, 2012, after a lengthy exploration of judicial authority to approve private settlements in which the defendant did not admit liability, Chief Judge Mark L. Wolf approved the settlement, holding that doing so would not violate the PLRA's provision that relief be limited to what is necessary to remedy the violation. The settlement agreement established detailed procedures, training, time limits, and recordkeeping to ensure that mentally ill prisoners are not placed in isolation or segregation without a full evaluation and determination that such placement will not cause further injury. The defendants also agreed to pay $1,250,000 in attorney fees and costs. 960 F. Supp. 2d 271 (D. Mass. 2012). The court retained the case on its docket (on hold but ready to be revived in the event of a claimed breach of the settlement agreement) for three years, with an additional two years possible.

On May 20, 2015 the court issued a stipulation stating that since request to reopen the case had not been made in three years, the court’s jurisdiction was terminated. However, on June 28, 2016, one of the prisoners who was a plaintiff in the original suit made a motion to reopen the case because the prison had been violating the agreement by placing mentally ill prisoners in solitary confinement without full evaluations.

On March 17, 2017, Judge Mark Wolf issued an opinion denying the plaintiff’s motion to reopen the case because the previous dismissal meant the court no longer had jurisdiction. Judge Wolf said the plaintiff could open a separate action since the previous action was not a class action. 2017 WL 1042068. As such, this case is now closed.

Denise Heberle - 04/16/2012
Jessica Kincaid - 07/15/2014
Will McCartney - 03/14/2018


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Content of Injunction
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Follow recruitment, hiring, or promotion protocols
Goals and Timekeeping
Monitoring
Recordkeeping
Reporting
Defendant-type
Corrections
Disability
Mental impairment
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Administrative segregation
Classification / placement
Conditions of confinement
Confinement/isolation
Disciplinary procedures
Disciplinary segregation
Housing
Pattern or Practice
Placement in detention facilities
Placement in mental health facilities
Reasonable Accommodations
Solitary confinement/Supermax (conditions or process)
Medical/Mental Health
Intellectual disability/mental illness dual diagnosis
Mental health care, general
Mental Disability
Intellectual/developmental disability, unspecified
Mental Illness, Unspecified
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701
Defendant(s) Massachusetts Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description A not-for-profit Massachusetts corporation and the authorized protection and advocacy agency for Massachusetts under the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness Act
Indexed Lawyer Organizations NDRN/Protection & Advocacy Organizations
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Private Settlement Agreement
Order Duration 2012 - 2015
Filing Year 2007
Case Closing Year 2017
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 ]

  Judicial Policy Making and the Modern State: How the Courts Reformed America's Prisons
Book
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 ]

Docket(s)
1:07-cv-10463-MLW (D. Mass.)
PC-MA-0026-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/20/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint
PC-MA-0026-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/08/2007
Answer to Complaint
PC-MA-0026-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/07/2007
Memorandum and Order [Lifting Stay of Discovery] [ECF# 134] (2010 WL 3199883) (D. Mass.)
PC-MA-0026-0006.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 08/12/2010
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order on Disablity Law Center's Renewed Motion to Compel Production of Documents by UMCHP [ECF# 167] (D. Mass.)
PC-MA-0026-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/21/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Settlement Agreement
PC-MA-0026-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/12/2011
Joint Motion to Approve Settlement Agreement [ECF# 248]
PC-MA-0026-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/12/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
[Transcript of Settlement Hearing] [ECF# 259]
PC-MA-0026-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/09/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Approving Settlement [ECF# 260] (960 F.Supp.2d 271) (D. Mass.)
PC-MA-0026-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 04/12/2012
Stipulation of Dismissal [ECF# 265]
PC-MA-0026-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/20/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum and Order [ECF# 283] (D. Mass.)
PC-MA-0026-0010.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/17/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Boal, Jennifer C. (D. Mass.) [Magistrate]
PC-MA-0026-0003
Wolf, Mark Lawrence (D. Mass.)
PC-MA-0026-0005 | PC-MA-0026-0006 | PC-MA-0026-0010 | PC-MA-0026-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Baker, Robert B. (Massachusetts)
PC-MA-0026-0001 | PC-MA-0026-0007 | PC-MA-0026-9000
Fleischner, Robert D. (Massachusetts)
PC-MA-0026-0001 | PC-MA-0026-0004 | PC-MA-0026-0007 | PC-MA-0026-0009 | PC-MA-0026-9000
Glassman, Richard M. (Massachusetts)
PC-MA-0026-0001 | PC-MA-0026-0004 | PC-MA-0026-0007 | PC-MA-0026-0009 | PC-MA-0026-9000
Guizzetti, Cynthia M. (Massachusetts)
PC-MA-0026-0001 | PC-MA-0026-0007 | PC-MA-0026-9000
Head, Carol E. (Massachusetts)
PC-MA-0026-0004 | PC-MA-0026-0007 | PC-MA-0026-0009 | PC-MA-0026-9000
Hickey, Alison E (Massachusetts)
PC-MA-0026-0007 | PC-MA-0026-9000
Kurker, Allyson (Massachusetts)
PC-MA-0026-0001 | PC-MA-0026-0007
Murphy, Nancy J. (Massachusetts)
PC-MA-0026-0007 | PC-MA-0026-0009 | PC-MA-0026-9000
Pingeon, James R. (Massachusetts)
PC-MA-0026-0001 | PC-MA-0026-0004 | PC-MA-0026-0007 | PC-MA-0026-0009 | PC-MA-0026-9000
Rollins, James S (Massachusetts)
PC-MA-0026-0004 | PC-MA-0026-0007 | PC-MA-0026-0009 | PC-MA-0026-9000
Silveira, Alison Hickey (Massachusetts)
PC-MA-0026-0004 | PC-MA-0026-0007 | PC-MA-0026-9000
Svirida, Nancy (Massachusetts)
PC-MA-0026-0001 | PC-MA-0026-0007 | PC-MA-0026-9000
Talley, Karen O. (Massachusetts)
PC-MA-0026-0001 | PC-MA-0026-0007 | PC-MA-0026-9000
Tenneriello, Bonita (Massachusetts)
PC-MA-0026-0001 | PC-MA-0026-0007 | PC-MA-0026-0009 | PC-MA-0026-9000
Thompson, Joel (Massachusetts)
PC-MA-0026-0001 | PC-MA-0026-0007
Walker, Leslie (Massachusetts)
PC-MA-0026-0001 | PC-MA-0026-0004 | PC-MA-0026-0007 | PC-MA-0026-0009
Yamin, David (Massachusetts)
PC-MA-0026-0004 | PC-MA-0026-0007 | PC-MA-0026-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Abeln, Anthony E. (Massachusetts)
PC-MA-0026-0007 | PC-MA-0026-9000
Anderson, Charles W Jr. (Massachusetts)
PC-MA-0026-0002 | PC-MA-0026-0004 | PC-MA-0026-0007 | PC-MA-0026-0009 | PC-MA-0026-9000
Bello, James A. (Massachusetts)
PC-MA-0026-9000
Grant, Sheryl (Massachusetts)
PC-MA-0026-0002 | PC-MA-0026-0004 | PC-MA-0026-0007 | PC-MA-0026-0009 | PC-MA-0026-9000
Quinn, Christopher (Massachusetts)
PC-MA-0026-0007 | PC-MA-0026-9000
Saltzman, William D (Massachusetts)
PC-MA-0026-0002 | PC-MA-0026-0004 | PC-MA-0026-0007 | PC-MA-0026-0009 | PC-MA-0026-9000
White, Nancy Ankers (Massachusetts)
PC-MA-0026-0002 | PC-MA-0026-0004 | PC-MA-0026-0007 | PC-MA-0026-0009 | PC-MA-0026-9000
Other Lawyers Hughes, Stephen E (Massachusetts)
PC-MA-0026-9000

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