University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Arsberry v. State of Illinois PC-IL-0017
Docket / Court 1:99-cv-02457 ( N.D. Ill. )
State/Territory Illinois
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Attorney Organization EEOC
Case Summary
On April 15, 1999, prisoners incarcerated by the Illinois Department of Corrections and individuals wishing to call such prisoners, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Illinois under 42 U.S.C. § 1983; the Sherman Antitrust Act; the Telecommunications Act of 1996; ... read more >
On April 15, 1999, prisoners incarcerated by the Illinois Department of Corrections and individuals wishing to call such prisoners, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Illinois under 42 U.S.C. § 1983; the Sherman Antitrust Act; the Telecommunications Act of 1996; and Illinois state law. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, the People's Law Offices, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, filed the suit against the State of Illinois and various telecommunications companies. They claimed that the telephone service rates at various correctional facilities were exorbitant, in violation of the First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments. The plaintiffs sought damages and injunctive relief against the phone companies and the state agencies responsible for the arrangements with the companies.

Many of the prisons and jails in Illinois grant one phone company the exclusive right to provide telephone service to the prisoners, in return for 50 percent of the revenues generated by the service. The plaintiffs' claimed that the prices were excessive and higher than necessary to cover the costs involved.

On March 22, 2000, Judge William Hibbler dismissed the suit, concluding that plaintiffs' claims were beyond the Court's jurisdiction by reason of the filed-rate and primary-jurisdiction doctrines. 117 F. Supp. 2d 743 (N.D. Ill. 2000). The Court found that the telecommunications statutes clearly assigned to the FCC and ICC the authority to determine the reasonableness of telecomm rates and that those agencies were experts in important ways that the Court was not. Plaintiffs appealed the decision and on March 19, 2001, in an opinion written by Judge Posner, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit modified and affirmed the District Court's decision. Arsberry v. Illinois, 244 F.3d 558 (7th Cir. 2001). The Court of Appeals found that plaintiffs' First Amendment claims lacked merit and that their remaining constitutional claims were barred by the filed-rate and primary-jurisdiction doctrines. On May 29, 2001, the Court of Appeals denied plaintiffs' motion for rehearing en banc and on December 3, 2001, the U.S. Supreme Court denied plaintiffs' petition for certiorari, Arsberry v. Illinois, 534 U.S. 1062 (2001).

Nate West - 10/09/2014

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Issues and Causes of Action
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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
42 U.S.C. § 1981
Defendant(s) State of Illinois
Plaintiff Description Prisoners and those wishing to have telephone contact with them challenging the fairness of collect call telephone rates
Indexed Lawyer Organizations EEOC
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2001
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Civil Rights Injunctions Over Time: A Case Study of Jail and Prison Court Orders
N.Y.U. Law Review
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
By: Malcolm M. Feeley & Edward Rubin (UC Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law & Vanderbilt School of Law Faculty)
Citation: (1998)
[ Detail ]

Links Cruel Confinement: Abuse, Discrimination and Death Within Alabama's Prisons
Written: Jun. 04, 2014
(Southern Poverty Law Center )
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

1:99-cv-02457 (N.D. Ill.) 01/03/2003
PC-IL-0017-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Judgment in a Civil Case 03/22/2000 (N.D. Ill.)
PC-IL-0017-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 03/22/2000 (117 F.Supp.2d 743) (N.D. Ill.)
PC-IL-0017-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Reported Appellate Opinion 03/19/2001 (244 F.3d 558)
PC-IL-0017-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Memorandum decision - certiorari denied 12/03/2001 (534 U.S. 1062)
PC-IL-0017-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Judges Easterbrook, Frank Hoover (Seventh Circuit)
Evans, Terence Thomas (E.D. Wis., Seventh Circuit)
Hibbler, William J. (N.D. Ill.)
PC-IL-0017-0002 | PC-IL-0017-9000
Posner, Richard Allen (Seventh Circuit)
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bradtke, James G. (Illinois)
PC-IL-0017-0002 | PC-IL-0017-0003 | PC-IL-0017-9000
Deutsch, Michael (Illinois)
PC-IL-0017-0002 | PC-IL-0017-0003 | PC-IL-0017-9000
Dolan, Patrick Daley (Illinois)
Elkin, Laurie S (Illinois)
PC-IL-0017-0002 | PC-IL-0017-9000
Seliger, Stephen G (Illinois)
PC-IL-0017-0002 | PC-IL-0017-0003 | PC-IL-0017-9000
Shapiro, Carl W (Illinois)
PC-IL-0017-0002 | PC-IL-0017-9000
Strauss, Paul Leonard (Illinois)
PC-IL-0017-0002 | PC-IL-0017-9000
Susler, Janis M. (Illinois)
Defendant's Lawyers Ackerman, Julie Brown (Illinois)
Alexis, Geraldine M (California)
PC-IL-0017-0002 | PC-IL-0017-9000
Blanchard, Patrick Malone (Illinois)
PC-IL-0017-0002 | PC-IL-0017-9000
Blickensderfer, Matthew C (Ohio)
PC-IL-0017-0002 | PC-IL-0017-9000
Bricker, Ross Benjamin (Illinois)
PC-IL-0017-0002 | PC-IL-0017-0003 | PC-IL-0017-9000
Bruckner, Paul Francis (Illinois)
PC-IL-0017-0002 | PC-IL-0017-9000
Buzanis, Alexandra C (Illinois)
PC-IL-0017-0002 | PC-IL-0017-9000
Castiglione, Paul Anthony (Illinois)
PC-IL-0017-0002 | PC-IL-0017-0003 | PC-IL-0017-9000
Champagne, Ellen L (Illinois)
PC-IL-0017-0002 | PC-IL-0017-9000
Downing, Thomas F (Illinois)
PC-IL-0017-0002 | PC-IL-0017-0003 | PC-IL-0017-9000
Layden, David Charles (Illinois)
PC-IL-0017-0002 | PC-IL-0017-9000
Leist, Donald B (Illinois)
PC-IL-0017-0002 | PC-IL-0017-9000
Light, Erik G (Illinois)
Lipton, Lois (Illinois)
PC-IL-0017-0002 | PC-IL-0017-9000
Lord, Patricia Johnson (Illinois)
PC-IL-0017-0002 | PC-IL-0017-0003 | PC-IL-0017-9000
Morrison, Jacqueline A (Illinois)
PC-IL-0017-0002 | PC-IL-0017-9000
Pascal, Roger (Illinois)
PC-IL-0017-0003 | PC-IL-0017-9000
Pastroff, Sanford Mark (Illinois)
PC-IL-0017-0002 | PC-IL-0017-9000
Peters, Charles H. R. (Illinois)
PC-IL-0017-0003 | PC-IL-0017-9000
Senner, Gary (Illinois)
PC-IL-0017-0002 | PC-IL-0017-0003 | PC-IL-0017-9000
Siegel, Richard John (Illinois)
PC-IL-0017-0002 | PC-IL-0017-9000
Smith, Leslie M. (Illinois)
PC-IL-0017-0002 | PC-IL-0017-0003 | PC-IL-0017-9000
Volgelson, Jay M (Texas)
PC-IL-0017-0002 | PC-IL-0017-0003 | PC-IL-0017-9000
Welsh, Mary E. (Illinois)
Other Lawyers None on record

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