On January 7, 1999, Illinois state prisoners who had serious mental illnesses filed an action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. These prisoners resided in a "super maximum" security correctional institution in Tamms, Illinois. They were represented by private counsel and attorneys from Northwestern University School of Law's MacArthur Justice Center and from the Edwin F. Mandel Legal Aid Clinic. Counsel amended the complaint on February 25, 1999, to add and dismiss a few defendants, but all the defendants were officials operating facilities of the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) and IDOC, itself. Requesting class certification and injunctive relief, the plaintiffs alleged that the defendants (1) were deliberately indifferent to prisoners' mental health needs in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments; (2) provided, for mentally ill inmates, living conditions that violated those amendments; (3) violated the state mental health code, which created a liberty or property interest under the Fourteenth Amendment's due process guarantee; (4) violated the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq., and (5) violated the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 504. Also on February 25, 1999, the defense filed a motion to transfer venue. On March 31, 1999, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss the amended complaint, but that motion had not been ruled upon when District Judge Robert W. Gettleman granted the motion to transfer venue on April 13, 1999, sending the case to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. Boyd v. Snyder, 44 F.Supp.2d 966 (N.D. Il. 1999). There, the plaintiffs, on June 6, 2000, dismissed their case without prejudice and filed a lengthy new complaint in the Southern District of Illinois, adding a defendant but making essentially the same individual and class-based claims on behalf of seriously mentally ill inmates housed or to be housed at Tamms Correctional Center. Plaintiffs sought compensatory and punitive damages and injunctive and declaratory relief, suing the defendants in their individual and official capacities.
Some of the defendants filed motions to dismiss, alleging that plaintiffs had not exhausted administrative remedies as to the moving defendants, had failed to allege physical injuries as required by a provision of the Prison Litigation Reform Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(e), failed to sufficiently allege personal responsibility for certain alleged injuries or misconduct, failed to state claims upon which relief could be granted as to the ADA and Rehabilitation Act, had no due process rights under the Illinois mental health code, and that the defendants were protected from the damages claims in their official capacity by reason of the Eleventh Amendment and also protected by qualified immunity from certain of plaintiffs' claims. U.S. Magistrate Judge Clifford J. Proud considered the pretrial dismissal motions and issued his report and recommendation on August 2, 2001. His recommendations were adopted in full by District Judge Davis R. Herndon in an unpublished order on September 18, 2001. Accordingly, many of the plaintiffs' claims were dismissed, including the alleged ADA violation and the due process claim relying on the state's mental health code, and certain defendants were dismissed from the case or permitted to be proceeded against only in their individual, as opposed to official, capacity.
Plaintiffs' efforts to have their case certified as a class action were rejected by Magistrate Judge Proud's November 6, 2001, unpublished recommendation, which was adopted by District Judge Herndon on March 27, 2002. The district judge's ruling rejected plaintiffs' objections to the magistrate's report, as Judge Herndon elected not to credit plaintiffs' expert statistical analysis about the likely number of seriously mentally ill prisoners at Tamms, instead choosing to rely on defense-submitted records indicating 15 such prisoners were housed at Tamms. Such a number, said the judge in an unpublished opinion, was not so large as to warrant class action treatment. The plaintiffs filed a motion asking the judge to reconsider this ruling. The motion led to the judge conducting another hearing, touring the Tamms facility, and reviewing prisoners' mental health records. In an unpublished order on February 28, 2003, Judge Herndon stood by his earlier ruling that denied class action status to the case, stating that the additional sources of information he had considered made him more sure that class action status was unwarranted.
Discovery proceedings and negotiations between the parties had occurred as the months went by. On October 1, 2002, in a pleading referencing a stipulation, one plaintiff dismissed, with prejudice, his allegations against all defendants and the remaining plaintiffs dismissed, with prejudice, their allegations against two particular defendants. We do not have a copy of the stipulation nor otherwise know of its' terms. At various times, the parties and the court addressed the need for protective orders concerning discovery items, such as videotapes of extraction teams removing prisoners from cells or policy statements regarding prisoner transfers, trying to address concerns the court regarded as legitimate that unlimited disclosure of such materials would enable prisoners' plots to thwart security efforts or to manufacture reasons for transfer. Other developments in the case included the plaintiffs' unopposed motion to dismiss, on mootness grounds, a plaintiff who no longer resided in the Tamms facility. The motion was granted by the court on June 10, 2004.
Eventually, the defendants filed motions for summary judgment. By the time the motions were ruled upon, only two plaintiffs and six defendants, together with IDOC, remained as parties and the claim for damages was no longer being pressed. Adopting and expanding upon Magistrate Judge Proud's January 24, 2005, unpublished recommendation that the motion for summary judgment be granted in part and denied in part, Judge Herndon's March 24, 2005, unpublished order overruled defense objections that their motion should have been granted in its entirety. According to the court, genuine issues of material fact remained and warranted trial as to some defendants on the Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claim and the alleged violation of the Rehabilitation Act; however, the IDOC high-level officials and the Tamms warden were dismissed from the case, as the plaintiffs had shown no evidence that these defendants were deliberately indifferent or otherwise at fault in relying on diagnoses by IDOC psychiatrists or psychologists.
No trial occurred, however, because the remaining parties settled the case, resulting in its dismissal on May 25, 2005. We have no details of the settlement's terms, nor any information indicating further action occurring in the case.Mike Fagan - 05/06/2008