University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name Byrd v. Goord PC-NY-0050
Docket / Court 1:00-cv-02135-GBD ( S.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Attorney Organization Center for Constitutional Rights
Case Summary
In March 2000, a group of family members, legal counsel and others who received collect telephone calls from New York state inmates filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. (The case was a companion action to state court litigation which appears in the ... read more >
In March 2000, a group of family members, legal counsel and others who received collect telephone calls from New York state inmates filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. (The case was a companion action to state court litigation which appears in the Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse as case PC-NY-49.) The defendants were state prison administrators and the telephone service provider (MCI), which had an exclusive contract with the state to provide telephone service in its' prisons. The plaintiffs, relying on 42 U.S.C. § 1983, were represented by attorneys for the Center for Constitutional Rights and private counsel. Complaining of excessively high rates for these collect calls and of a lack of options for alternate telephone service, as well as the high commission (nearly 60% of gross revenues) paid by MCI to the state under the contract, the plaintiffs asserted that their constitutional rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments had been violated, specifically their rights of freedom of association and to contract, as well as rights to due process and to equal protection of law. Plaintiffs also alleged anti-trust and tortuous interference with contract claims.

The defendants filed motions to dismiss the federal case, which were decided on August 29, 2005. In an unpublished order in Byrd v. Goord, District Judge George B. Daniels granted the state's motions to dismiss the plaintiffs' challenges to the exclusive services contract and to the collect call-only system, but he denied dismissal of the constitutional claims relating to the high-percentage commissions the state received under the contract. He also granted MCI's motion to be dismissed from the case, finding that the plaintiffs' claim against the company basically attacked its rates, an attack precluded by the filed rate doctrine. The court's ruling was followed by discovery proceedings, further motions and an effort to have the case certified as a class action.

Meanwhile, a new governor took office on January 8, 2007, and ordered that the commission received by the state prison system be eliminated by April 1, 2007. The telephone service contract was restructured to comply with the governor's directive. The defendants moved to dismiss the case as moot. On September 26, 2007, in an unpublished order, Judge Daniels granted the defense request, noting also that new state legislation had been enacted which prohibited the prison system from accepting or receiving revenue in excess of reasonable operating costs for providing telephone services for prisoners. Likewise, the judge ruled that the request for class certification was moot.

We have no information suggesting further activity in the case.

Mike Fagan - 05/01/2008

compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Equal Protection
Freedom of speech/association
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) New York State Department of Correctional Services
Plaintiff Description Recipients of collect telephone calls made by New York state prison inmates
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Center for Constitutional Rights
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Filing Year 2000
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing PC-NY-0049 : Walton v. New York State Department of Correctional Services (State Court)
Additional Resources
click to show/hide detail
  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
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 ]

1:00-cv-02135-GBD (S.D.N.Y.)
PC-NY-0050-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/25/2007
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Memorandum Opinion and Order (2005 WL 2086321) (S.D.N.Y.)
PC-NY-0050-0001.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 08/29/2005
Memorandum Decision and Order (2007 WL 2789505 / 2007 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 71279) (S.D.N.Y.)
PC-NY-0050-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 09/27/2007
Judges Daniels, George B. (S.D.N.Y.)
PC-NY-0050-0001 | PC-NY-0050-0002 | PC-NY-0050-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers FitzPatrick, Brian T. (New York)
PC-NY-0050-0002 | PC-NY-0050-9000
Goodman, William Harry (New York)
PC-NY-0050-0002 | PC-NY-0050-9000
Jaffe, Susan M. (New York)
PC-NY-0050-0002 | PC-NY-0050-9000
Maimon, Moshe (New York)
PC-NY-0050-0002 | PC-NY-0050-9000
Meeropol, Rachel (New York)
PC-NY-0050-0002 | PC-NY-0050-9000
Olshansky, Barbara J. (New York)
Perry, Robert Thomas (New York)
PC-NY-0050-0002 | PC-NY-0050-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Duncan, Patrick C. Jr. (New York)
Schulman, Steven Neil (New York)
PC-NY-0050-0002 | PC-NY-0050-9000

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -