Case: A.T. v. Harder

9:17-cv-00817 | U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York

Filed Date: July 25, 2017

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On July 25, 2017, two minors, represented by Legal Services of Central New York, filed this putative class-action civil-rights lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York, on behalf of all 16- and 17-year-old juveniles placed in solitary confinement in Broome County's jail, in Binghamton, NY. Both named plaintiffs were 17-year-old boys held in solitary confinement at the time of filing; each had multiple disciplinary isolation sanctions issued during their detention…

On July 25, 2017, two minors, represented by Legal Services of Central New York, filed this putative class-action civil-rights lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York, on behalf of all 16- and 17-year-old juveniles placed in solitary confinement in Broome County's jail, in Binghamton, NY. Both named plaintiffs were 17-year-old boys held in solitary confinement at the time of filing; each had multiple disciplinary isolation sanctions issued during their detention. They brought this action against the Broome County Sheriff, Chief Jail Administrator, and Deputy Jail Administrator, as well as the Chenango Valley School District, which lies within Broome County. The plaintiffs alleged that the conditions of solitary confinement and poor physical conditions increased their risk of future psychological harm. Plaintiffs with mental disabilities were alleged to be particularly at-risk members of the class. Additionally, the plaintiffs claimed that defendants denied juveniles in solitary confinement educational instruction and therefore denied them their due process rights. The claim arose under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The complaint sought class certification of all present and future members, with subclasses of those members with mental and physical disabilities; declaratory relief that the defendants' actions violated the plaintiffs' Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights; all necessary and appropriate injunctive relief; and attorneys' fees and costs.

On August 8, 2017, the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint to correct the school district. At the plaintiffs' request, the case was designated by the court as related to V.W. v Conway. Conway, also brought by Legal Services of Central New York, made substantially similar factual and legal claims. The complaint in that case challenged solitary confinement practices imposed on juveniles at the Onondaga Justice Center and alleged that the local school district failed to provide adequate educational instruction to juveniles held in solitary confinement.

In November 2017, Magistrate Judge David E. Peebles ordered the case to mediation. He set a deadline for February 2018. By that time, the plaintiffs and the Chenango School District reached an interim settlement agreement. The District agreed to provide sufficient staff, special education teachers, and evaluations to juvenile students at the jail. The court (Judge David N. Hurd) then dismissed claims against the school district except as to attorneys' fees and costs (which were later resolved in March). Otherwise, the mandatory mediation did not bring resolution to the case.

On April 4, 2018, Judge Hurd issued a decision and order granting a preliminary injunction against the Sheriff's office, and certified the requested class. The class certified was composed of all 16- and 17-year-olds who are now or will be incarcerated at Broome County Correctional Facility, with two additional subclasses: (1) a subclass of all 16-and 17-year-olds with disabilities as defined under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act who are now or will be incarcerated at the Broome County Correctional Facility, who are in need of special education services, and (2) a subclass of all 16- and 17-year-olds with psychiatric and/or intellectual disabilities, as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, who are now or will be incarcerated at the Broome County Correctional Facility, who are at risk of being placed in disciplinary segregation because of their disability. After dismissing claims against the Deputy Administrator, the court enjoined the remaining defendants by barring them from locking juveniles in cells unless they posed an immediate risk to the facility. Solitary confinement would be permitted only when other means of disciplinary action proved inadequate, and was limited to no more than four hours per day. The court also ordered that the defendants provide mental health and psychiatric services and a minimum of three hours of educational instruction per day. 298 F. Supp. 3d 391.

In May 2018, the parties began settlement discussions. The filed a motion to approve their settlement agreement on July 9, 2018. The court granted final approval of the agreement on December 18, 2018.

The settlement included 1) a section on behavior management that required defendants to significantly limit their use of solitary confinement and implement a comprehensive behavior management system with the goal of using the least restrictive sanctions on children; and 2) a guarantee that juveniles housed in the jail will have sufficient classroom space and access to education. The agreement also included details on reporting, monitoring, enforcement, and modification. The agreement was set to last until October 1, 2019, unless juveniles continued to be housed at the jail, in which case it would expire after the Sheriff's Office notified the court and plaintiffs confirmed that all juveniles have been permanently removed and will no longer be housed there. The defendants also agreed to pay $75,000 for plaintiffs' attorneys' fees and costs.

As of May 2020, there have been no additional entries in the docket. The settlement has expired, unless juveniles continue to be housed at the jail.

Summary Authors

Chelsea Rinnig (6/19/2018)

Alex Moody (5/27/2020)

Related Cases

V.W. v. Conway, Northern District of New York (2016)

People

For PACER's information on parties and their attorneys, see: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/6143096/parties/at-v-harder/


Judge(s)
Attorney for Plaintiff

Cassady, Charlotte (New York)

Clifford, Michael T. (New York)

Coleman, Lee L. (New York)

Attorney for Defendant

Behnke, Robert G. (New York)

Busse, R. Kyle (New York)

Expert/Monitor/Master/Other
Judge(s)

Hurd, David N. (New York)

Peebles, David E. (New York)

Expert/Monitor/Master/Other

show all people

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

9:17-cv-00817

Docket [PACER]

Dec. 18, 2018

Dec. 18, 2018

Docket
1

9:17-cv-00817

Complaint

July 25, 2017

July 25, 2017

Complaint
7

9:17-cv-00817

Amended Complaint

Aug. 8, 2017

Aug. 8, 2017

Complaint
18

9:17-cv-00817

Decision and Order (designating cases as related)

Aug. 28, 2017

Aug. 28, 2017

Order/Opinion
52

9:17-cv-00817

Stipulation and Order for an Interim Settlement Agreement

Feb. 9, 2018

Feb. 9, 2018

Settlement Agreement
62

9:17-cv-00817

Memorandum Decision and Order

April 4, 2018

April 4, 2018

Order/Opinion
69, 69-1

9:17-cv-00817

Notice of Joint Motion for Preliminary Approval of Class-Action Settlement, and Approval and Distribution of the Notice of Settlement

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York

July 9, 2018

July 9, 2018

Pleading / Motion / Brief
75

9:17-cv-00817

Order Granting Final Approval of Class Action Settlement

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York

Dec. 18, 2018

Dec. 18, 2018

Order/Opinion

Docket

See docket on RECAP: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/6143096/at-v-harder/

Last updated Dec. 8, 2023, 3:01 a.m.

ECF Number Description Date Link Date / Link
1

COMPLAINT against Binghamton City School District, David Harder, Kevin Moore, Mark Smolinsky (Filing fee $400 receipt number 0206-4079491) filed by A. T., B. C. (Attachments: # 1 Civil Cover Sheet)(alh, ) (Entered: 07/26/2017)

1 Civil Cover Sheet

View on PACER

July 25, 2017

July 25, 2017

PACER
2

G.O. 25 FILING ORDER ISSUED: Initial Conference set for 10/26/2017 09:30 AM in Syracuse before Magistrate Judge David E. Peebles. Civil Case Management Plan must be filed and Mandatory Disclosures are to be exchanged by the parties on or before 10/19/2017. (Pursuant to Local Rule 26.2, mandatory disclosures are to be exchanged among the parties but are NOT to be filed with the Court.) (alh, ) (Entered: 07/26/2017)

July 26, 2017

July 26, 2017

PACER
3

Summons Issued as to Binghamton City School District, David Harder, Kevin Moore, Mark Smolinsky. (Attachments: # 1 Smolinsky, # 2 Moore, # 3 Binghamton City School District)(alh, ) (Entered: 07/26/2017)

1 Smolinsky

View on PACER

2 Moore

View on PACER

3 Binghamton City School District

View on PACER

July 26, 2017

July 26, 2017

PACER
4

AFFIDAVIT of Service for the Summons, Complaint, and General Order 25 served on David Harder, Mark Smolinsky, and Kevin Moore on 7/27/2017, filed by B. C., A. T.. (Cotter, Joshua) (Entered: 07/27/2017)

July 27, 2017

July 27, 2017

PACER
5

AFFIDAVIT of Service for the Summons, Complaint and General Order 25 served on the Binghamton City School District on 7/26/2017, filed by B. C., A. T.. (Cotter, Joshua) (Entered: 07/27/2017)

July 27, 2017

July 27, 2017

PACER
6

STATUS REPORT Informing the Court of the Plaintiffs' Intention to File an Amended Complaint by B. C., A. T.. (Cotter, Joshua) (Entered: 08/08/2017)

Aug. 8, 2017

Aug. 8, 2017

PACER
7

AMENDED COMPLAINT against David Harder, Kevin Moore, Mark Smolinsky filed by A. T., B. C.. (Attachments: # 1 Proposed Summons)(Cotter, Joshua) (Entered: 08/08/2017)

1 Proposed Summons

View on PACER

Aug. 8, 2017

Aug. 8, 2017

RECAP
8

Notice of Related Case by B. C., A. T. submitted to Judge David Hurd . Objections due by 8/15/2017 (Cotter, Joshua) (Entered: 08/08/2017)

Aug. 8, 2017

Aug. 8, 2017

RECAP
9

Summons Issued as to Chenango Valley Central School District. (alh, ) (Entered: 08/09/2017)

Aug. 9, 2017

Aug. 9, 2017

PACER
10

AFFIDAVIT of Service for Amended Complaint and Notice of Related Case served on David Harder, Mark Smolinsky and Kevin Moore on 8/9/2017, filed by B. C., A. T.. (Cotter, Joshua) (Entered: 08/10/2017)

Aug. 10, 2017

Aug. 10, 2017

PACER
11

AFFIDAVIT of Service for Summons, Amended Complaint, Notice of Related Case and General Order 25 served on Chenango Valley Central School District on 08/10/2017, filed by B. C., A. T.. (Cotter, Joshua) (Entered: 08/10/2017)

Aug. 10, 2017

Aug. 10, 2017

PACER
12

RESPONSE TO LETTER BRIEF filed by David Harder, Kevin Moore, Mark Smolinsky as to 8 Notice of Related Case filed by B. C., A. T. . (Attachments: # 1 certificate of service)(Behnke, Robert) (Entered: 08/14/2017)

1 certificate of service

View on PACER

Aug. 14, 2017

Aug. 14, 2017

PACER
13

ANSWER to 7 Amended Complaint by David Harder, Kevin Moore, Mark Smolinsky. (Attachments: # 1 Certificate of Service)(Behnke, Robert) (Entered: 08/23/2017)

1 Certificate of Service

View on PACER

Aug. 23, 2017

Aug. 23, 2017

PACER
14

NOTICE of Appearance by Christopher M. Militello on behalf of Chenango Valley Central School District (Militello, Christopher) (Entered: 08/23/2017)

Aug. 23, 2017

Aug. 23, 2017

PACER
15

Letter Motion from Christopher Militello, Esq. for Chenango Valley Central School District requesting Extension of deadline to respond to Complaint submitted to Judge Peebles . (Militello, Christopher) (Entered: 08/23/2017)

Aug. 23, 2017

Aug. 23, 2017

PACER
16

NOTICE of Appearance by Frank W. Miller on behalf of Chenango Valley Central School District (Miller, Frank) (Entered: 08/23/2017)

Aug. 23, 2017

Aug. 23, 2017

PACER
17

TEXT ORDER granting 15 Letter Request for an extension of time for defendant Chenango Valley Central School District to answer or otherwise respond to plaintiff's 7 amended complaint on or before 9/30/2017. Authorized by Magistrate Judge David E. Peebles on 8/24/17. (sal ) (Entered: 08/24/2017)

Aug. 24, 2017

Aug. 24, 2017

PACER
52

STIPULATION AND ORDER FOR INTERIM SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT. Signed by Judge David N. Hurd on 2/9/18. (alh, )

Feb. 9, 2018

Feb. 9, 2018

PACER
53

ORDER: ORDERED that: (1) The action against the School District is DISMISSED except for the following; (2) the attorneys' fee issue between the plaintiffs and School District remains to be resolved; (3) plaintiffs and the School District sha ll settle the attorneys' fee issue on or before March 9, 2018 and notify the Court of the results; (4) In the event that no settlement is reached, plaintiffs shall file an application for attorneys' fees on or before March 23, 2018; (5) th e School District shall answer the application on or before April 6, 2018; (6) plaintiffs may file a reply on or before April 13, 2018; and (7) the decision regarding attorneys' fees shall be binding upon the plaintiffs and the School District. Signed by Judge David N. Hurd on 2/9/18. (alh, )

Feb. 9, 2018

Feb. 9, 2018

PACER
62

MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER: ORDERED that 1. Plaintiffs' 33 motion for class certification is GRANTED; 2. Plaintiffs' 45 motion for a preliminary injunction is GRANTED; 3. The official-capacity claim against Deputy Administra tor Moore is DISMISSED without prejudice; 4. Defendants, their agents, servants, employees, and officers, and all other persons in active concert or participation with them and who receive actual notice of this preliminary injunction, by personal service or otherwise, are hereby IMMEDIATELY ENJOINED AND RESTRAINED, pending the final determination of this action, from imposing 23-hour disciplinary isolation on juveniles at the Broome County Jail; 5. Defendants shall IMMEDIATELY only lock j uveniles in their cells for disciplinary purposes if the juvenile poses an immediate threat to the safety or security of the facility and only after less restrictive measures have been employed and found inadequate to address the particular threat at issue; 6. Under no circumstances shall a juvenile be locked in their cell for greater than four hours for disciplinary purposes; 7. If a juvenile remains an immediate threat to the safety and security of the facility after four hours, a psyc hiatrist shall be consulted and a plan put in place to ensure the juvenile's safe return to the general juvenile population; 8. Defendants shall IMMEDIATELY ensure all juveniles have access to at least three hours of educational instruction ea ch day as well as any IDEA-mandated special education and related services; and 9. If a juvenile with a mental health or intellectual disability will potentially lose access to the benefits, services, and programs offered at the facility as a resu lt of the disciplinary process, defendants shall ensure mental health staff will perform an individualized assessment of the juvenile as soon as possible. This assessment shall at minimum include: (a) a review of the individual's mental heal th needs; (b) a determination regarding whether any reasonable modifications can be made to eliminate future risk; (c) a determination regarding whether the individual with a disability continues to pose a risk; and (d) whether placement in segregation is medically appropriate. Signed by Judge David N. Hurd on 4/4/18. (alh, )

April 4, 2018

April 4, 2018

PACER
69

Miscellaneous/Other Relief

1 Exhibit(s) 1 to Notice of Motion: Signed Stipulation

View on PACER

2 Proposed Order/Judgment Preliminarily approving Settlement

View on PACER

3 Memorandum of Law

View on PACER

4 Declaration of Joshua Cotter in support of Joint Motion

View on PACER

5 Exhibit(s) A and B to Cotter Declaration

View on PACER

July 9, 2018

July 9, 2018

PACER
71

Order on Motion for Miscellaneous Relief

Oct. 16, 2018

Oct. 16, 2018

PACER
74

Miscellaneous/Other Relief

1 Memorandum of Law in Support of Joint Motion

View on PACER

2 Declaration Supplemental Declaration of Joshua Cotter in Support of Joint Motion

View on PACER

3 Proposed Order/Judgment Granting Joint Motion for Final Approval

View on PACER

Dec. 13, 2018

Dec. 13, 2018

PACER
75

ORDER GRANTING FINAL APPROVAL OF CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT: ORDERED that 1. The Settlement Agreement filed by the parties on July 9, 2018 (Dkt. No. 74 ) is APPROVED as fair, reasonable, and adequate to the class of "All 16- and 17-year-olds w ho are now or will be incarcerated at the Broome County Correctional Facility," to the subclass of "All 16- and 17-year-olds with disabilities, as defined by the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, who are now or will be incarcerat ed at the Broome County Correctional Facility, and who are in need of special education and related services"; and to the subclass of "All 16- and 17-year-olds with psychiatric and/or intellectual disabilities, as defined by the Americans w ith Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, who now or will be incarcerated at the Broome County Correctional Facility, who are at risk of being placed in disciplinary isolation because of their disability"; and 2. The parties' agreement on fees and costs (Dkt. No. 72 ) is APPROVED. Signed by Judge David N. Hurd on 12/18/18. (nas)

Dec. 18, 2018

Dec. 18, 2018

RECAP

Case Details

State / Territory: New York

Case Type(s):

Juvenile Institution

Special Collection(s):

Solitary confinement

Post-WalMart decisions on class certification

Multi-LexSum (in sample)

Key Dates

Filing Date: July 25, 2017

Case Ongoing: No reason to think so

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

16- and 17-year-old juveniles placed in solitary confinement. Sub-classes of juveniles with mental and physical disabilities.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Attorney Organizations:

Legal Services/Legal Aid

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Granted

Defendants

Chenango Valley Central School District (Broome), County

Broome County Sheriff's Office (Broome), County

Defendant Type(s):

Jurisdiction-wide

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.

Indv. w/ Disab. Educ. Act (IDEA), Educ. of All Handcpd. Children Act , 20 U.S.C. § 1400

Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701

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

Constitutional Clause(s):

Due Process

Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Available Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Non-settlement Outcome

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Litigation

Form of Settlement:

Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree

Amount Defendant Pays: $75,000

Order Duration: 2018 - None

Content of Injunction:

Preliminary relief granted

Remedial education

Other requirements regarding hiring, promotion, retention

Recordkeeping

Issues

General:

Conditions of confinement

Disciplinary procedures

Education

Juveniles

Jails, Prisons, Detention Centers, and Other Institutions:

Administrative segregation

Confinement/isolation

Disciplinary segregation

Disability and Disability Rights:

Special education

Mental impairment

Medical/Mental Health:

Mental health care, general

Type of Facility:

Government-run