Case: Community Legal Aid Society, Inc. v. Coupe

1:15-cv-00688 | U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware

Filed Date: Aug. 6, 2015

Case Ongoing

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On August 6, 2015, Delaware's Community Legal Aid Society filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware. The plaintiffs sued the Delaware Department of Correction under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI) Act (42 U.S.C. § 10801), and the Declaratory Judgment Act (28 U.S.C. § 2201). Represented by the ACLU and private counsel, the plaintiff sought declaratory, injunctive, and monetary relief. The plaintiff claimed…

On August 6, 2015, Delaware's Community Legal Aid Society filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware. The plaintiffs sued the Delaware Department of Correction under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI) Act (42 U.S.C. § 10801), and the Declaratory Judgment Act (28 U.S.C. § 2201). Represented by the ACLU and private counsel, the plaintiff sought declaratory, injunctive, and monetary relief. The plaintiff claimed constitutionally inadequate treatment, housing, and care of mentally ill prisoners in solitary confinement.

Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that the state was confining prisoners with mental illness in solitary confinement without providing proper medical and mental health treatment for serious medical and mental health needs and without allowing adequate out-of-cell time. The complaint alleged that the defendants failed to promptly acknowledge or provide the minimum appropriate care for mentally-ill prisoners, and instead exacerbated their illnesses.

On March 16, 2016, Judge Gregory M. Sleet denied defendant's motion to dismiss, except for for claims brought under the Delaware state constitution. 2016 WL 1055741.

The parties engaged in settlement discussions and mediation. On August 31, 2016, the plaintiff submitted a proposed agreement and order. On September 1, 2016, Judge Sleet issued an order approving the agreement.

The agreement included specific actions and policies for improving mental health care for the incarcerated population, improving conditions of confinement and other aspects of restrictive housing, and reducing the length of disciplinary sanctions and the use of other forms of restrictive housing. The specific actions include adopting a definition of serious mental illness, creating a mechanism to identify and record prisoners as mentally ill and review their required level of care, adhering to a policy requiring that care be provided in accordance with treatment plans, creating a special needs unit, providing training to security staff for working with mentally ill patients, implementing policies for offering prisoners five hours of unstructured recreation per week and increasing out-of-cell-time, among others. The defendant agreed to pay the attorneys' fees. Unless otherwise agreed by the parties with approval of the court, the agreement and order was scheduled to terminate after five years.

A prisoner housed in solitary confinement during the litigation and agreement subsequently filed letters to Judge Sleet (January 30, 2017, February 10 and 14, 2017), motions for preliminary injunction (February 7 and 10, 2017), and a motion for a writ of mandamus (February 8, 2017). On February 13, 2017, Judge Sleet dismissed the motions and letters because the prisoner filing them was not a party to the case, and because the case was closed.

On May 28, 2019, a notice of violation of the agreement order was filed and sent to Judge Sleet. A motion for contempt was filed by Leroy Shelley, who was incarcerated at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, on April 9, 2020, and the case was reassigned to Judge Colm Connolly on April 15.

On February 5, 2021, Judge Connolly denied the motion for contempt and placed Shelley on notice that his future filings in this case would be docketed and not considered, for three reasons: 1) He was not a party to this case; 2) the provisions of enforcement didn’t contemplate enforcement by an inmate or non-party; and 3) the case had closed on September 9, 2016.

The agreement remains ongoing.

Summary Authors

Lakshmi Gopal (5/14/2016)

Julie Singer (3/5/2017)

John Duffield (8/6/2021)

People

For PACER's information on parties and their attorneys, see: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/5135086/parties/community-legal-aid-society-inc-v-coupe/


Judge(s)

Sleet, Gregory Moneta (Delaware)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Atkins, Daniel Gary (Delaware)

Chuff, Christopher Brian (Delaware)

Cline, Joanna J. (Delaware)

Dolinsky, Kyle A. (Pennsylvania)

Levine, James Harry Stone (Delaware)

McMillan, James Gordon III (Delaware)

Morse, Richard H. (Delaware)

Reibach, Ashleigh Kara (Delaware)

Schanne, John H. II (Delaware)

Judge(s)

Sleet, Gregory Moneta (Delaware)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Atkins, Daniel Gary (Delaware)

Chuff, Christopher Brian (Delaware)

Cline, Joanna J. (Delaware)

Dolinsky, Kyle A. (Pennsylvania)

Levine, James Harry Stone (Delaware)

McMillan, James Gordon III (Delaware)

Morse, Richard H. (Delaware)

Reibach, Ashleigh Kara (Delaware)

Schanne, John H. II (Delaware)

Stratton, David B (Delaware)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Handlon, Joseph Clement (Delaware)

Staib, Jason Wade (Delaware)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Docket [PACER]

Aug. 4, 2021 Docket
1

Complaint

Aug. 6, 2015 Complaint
30

Memorandum and Order

2016 WL 1055741

March 16, 2016 Order/Opinion
38

Agreement and Order

Community Legal Aid Society v. Coupe

Aug. 31, 2016 Settlement Agreement
63

Order

Dec. 20, 2017 Order/Opinion

Docket

See docket on RECAP: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/5135086/community-legal-aid-society-inc-v-coupe/

Last updated May 12, 2022, 8 p.m.

ECF Number Description Date Link

No Summons Issued

Aug. 6, 2015 PACER
1

Complaint

1 Civil Cover Sheet

View on PACER

Aug. 6, 2015 PACER
2

Magistrate Consent Forms

Aug. 6, 2015 PACER

Case Assigned/Reassigned

Aug. 12, 2015 PACER

SO ORDERED

Aug. 13, 2015 PACER
3

Stipulation to EXTEND Time

Aug. 13, 2015 PACER
4

Order

Aug. 13, 2015 PACER
5

Status Report

1 Scheduling Order

View on PACER

Sept. 14, 2015 PACER

Oral Order

Sept. 15, 2015 PACER
6

Motion to Dismiss/Lack of Subject Jurisdiction

Oct. 1, 2015 RECAP
7

Opening Brief in Support

Oct. 1, 2015 RECAP
8

Stipulation

Oct. 14, 2015 PACER

SO ORDERED

Oct. 16, 2015 PACER
9

Status Report

1 Exhibit A

View on PACER

Oct. 16, 2015 PACER
10

Proposed Order

Oct. 16, 2015 PACER
11

Answering Brief in Opposition

1 Certificate of Service

View on PACER

Oct. 21, 2015 RECAP
12

Declaration

1 Exhibit A

View on PACER

2 Exhibit B

View on PACER

3 Certificate of Service

View on PACER

Oct. 21, 2015 PACER

CORRECTING ENTRY:

Nov. 2, 2015 PACER
13

Reply Brief

Nov. 2, 2015 RECAP
14

Notice (Other)

1 Exhibit

View on PACER

Nov. 11, 2015 PACER

Oral Order

Nov. 16, 2015 PACER
15

Proposed Order

Nov. 19, 2015 PACER

SO ORDERED

Nov. 20, 2015 PACER

Case Referred to Mediation

Nov. 23, 2015 PACER
16

Order Setting Teleconference

Nov. 23, 2015 RECAP
17

Notice of Service

Nov. 24, 2015 PACER
18

Notice of Service

Dec. 1, 2015 PACER
19

Stipulation

1 Exhibit A

View on PACER

Jan. 6, 2016 PACER
20

Notice of Service

Jan. 6, 2016 PACER
21

Notice of Service

Jan. 6, 2016 PACER

SO ORDERED

Jan. 8, 2016 PACER
22

Order Setting Mediation Conferences

Jan. 14, 2016 PACER
23

Notice of Service

Feb. 3, 2016 PACER
24

Notice of Service

Feb. 5, 2016 PACER
25

Notice of Service

March 8, 2016 PACER
26

Notice of Service

March 8, 2016 PACER
27

Notice of Service

March 10, 2016 PACER
28

Notice of Service

March 10, 2016 PACER
29

Stipulation to EXTEND Time

March 15, 2016 PACER

SO ORDERED

March 16, 2016 PACER
30

Memorandum Opinion

March 16, 2016 RECAP
31

Order

March 16, 2016 PACER
32

Oral Order

March 21, 2016 PACER
33

Oral Order

April 7, 2016 PACER

Oral Order

May 6, 2016 PACER
34

Letter

May 16, 2016 PACER

Telephone Conference

May 17, 2016 PACER
35

Proposed Order

May 20, 2016 PACER
36

SO ORDERED

May 25, 2016 PACER
37

Oral Order

June 21, 2016 PACER
38

Proposed Order

Aug. 31, 2016 PACER
39

Letter

Aug. 31, 2016 PACER
40

SO ORDERED

Sept. 1, 2016 PACER

Terminated Case

Sept. 9, 2016 PACER
41

Letter

Jan. 30, 2017 PACER
42

Motion for Preliminary Injunction

Feb. 7, 2017 PACER
43

Motion for Writ of Mandamus

1 Cover Letter

View on PACER

Feb. 8, 2017 PACER
44

Motion for Preliminary Injunction

1 Letter

View on RECAP

Feb. 10, 2017 PACER
45

Letter

Feb. 10, 2017 RECAP
46

Order on Motion for Preliminary Injunction

Feb. 13, 2017 PACER
47

Letter

Feb. 14, 2017 RECAP
48

Motion for Preliminary Injunction

Feb. 17, 2017 PACER
49

Motion for Miscellaneous Relief

Aug. 18, 2017 PACER
50

Motion to Appoint Counsel

Aug. 18, 2017 PACER
51

Motion to Reopen Case

Aug. 23, 2017 RECAP
52

Certificate of Service

Aug. 25, 2017 PACER
53

Motion for Miscellaneous Relief

Aug. 29, 2017 RECAP
54

Letter

Sept. 13, 2017 PACER
55

Letter

Sept. 14, 2017 PACER
56

Motion for Miscellaneous Relief

Sept. 28, 2017 PACER
57

Affidavit

Oct. 6, 2017 PACER
58

Exhibit to a Document

Oct. 10, 2017 PACER
59

Affidavit

Oct. 13, 2017 RECAP
60

Certificate of Service

Oct. 18, 2017 PACER
61

Notice of Change of Address

Nov. 6, 2017 PACER
62

Notice of Appearance

Nov. 6, 2017 RECAP
63

Order

Dec. 20, 2017 RECAP
64

Letter

Jan. 5, 2018 PACER
65

Letter

Jan. 8, 2018 PACER

Address updated

March 14, 2019 PACER
66

Notice - Other

May 29, 2019 PACER
67

Letter

June 11, 2019 PACER
68

Letter

July 19, 2019 PACER
69

Miscellaneous Relief

1 Exhibits 1, 1A, 3, 4, 5

View on PACER

2 Request for Damages

View on PACER

April 9, 2020 RECAP

Case Assigned/Reassigned

April 15, 2020 PACER
70

Order on Motion for Miscellaneous Relief

Feb. 5, 2021 RECAP

State / Territory: Delaware

Case Type(s):

Prison Conditions

Special Collection(s):

Solitary confinement

Key Dates

Filing Date: Aug. 6, 2015

Case Ongoing: Yes

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Community Legal Aid Society, Inc. (“CLASI”) is a non-profit Delaware corporation that represents indigent clients. CLASI has been designated, by the State of Delaware, as the organization with responsibility to protect and advocate for the rights of people with mental illness.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Attorney Organizations:

ACLU Affiliates (any)

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Delaware Department of Correction, State

Defendant Type(s):

Corrections

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201

Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI) Act, 42 U.S.C. § 10801

Ex parte Young (federal or state officials)

Constitutional Clause(s):

Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Due Process

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Attorneys fees

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree

Order Duration: 2016 - None

Content of Injunction:

Monitoring

Reporting

Preliminary relief denied

Issues

General:

Administrative segregation

Classification / placement

Conditions of confinement

Confinement/isolation

Recreation / Exercise

Solitary confinement/Supermax (conditions or process)

Totality of conditions

Discrimination-basis:

Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)

Disability:

Mental impairment

Mental Disability:

Mental Illness, Unspecified

Medical/Mental Health:

Medical care, general

Medication, administration of

Mental health care, general

Self-injurious behaviors

Suicide prevention

Untreated pain

Type of Facility:

Government-run