Case: Huerta v. Ewing

2:16-cv-00397 | U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana

Filed Date: Oct. 13, 2016

Case Ongoing

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On October 13, 2016, pretrial detainees in the Vigo County jail filed this class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. The plaintiffs, represented by the ACLU of Indiana and private counsel, sued the sheriff and other officials of Vigo County under 42 U.S.C. §1983. They sought a declaratory judgment, preliminary and permanent injunction, and damages, claiming violations of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment Due Process clause and Fourteenth Amendment Eq…

On October 13, 2016, pretrial detainees in the Vigo County jail filed this class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. The plaintiffs, represented by the ACLU of Indiana and private counsel, sued the sheriff and other officials of Vigo County under 42 U.S.C. §1983. They sought a declaratory judgment, preliminary and permanent injunction, and damages, claiming violations of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment Due Process clause and Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection clause.

The plaintiffs alleged that overcrowding had created unconstitutional conditions within the jail. Specifically, they alleged that they had been forced to sleep on the unsanitary floor; transported to other jails, depriving them of the opportunity to see their visitors and attorneys; and been denied necessary medical treatment. For example, one of the named plaintiffs was badly injured because he was sleeping on the floor when another inmate fell from the upper bunk and crashed onto him. Another named plaintiff was forced to sleep on the floor for seven months.

According to the complaint, a similar class action had been brought in 2000 to address overcrowding (Costa v. Harris). Although that case resulted in a private settlement agreement, the defendants failed to make substantial progress in addressing the problems. After 11 years with little change in conditions, the original plaintiffs filed a complaint about breach of contract, to no avail.

The plaintiff filed an amended complaint on November 17, 2016, in which some plaintiffs were added, and a second amended complaint on November 22, 2016. There were no significant changes between the first and the second amended complaint.

On November 17, 2016, the plaintiffs sought class certification. On May 19, 2018, Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson granted the plaintiffs’ motion, defining the class as: “All individuals in the care and custody of Vigo County, Indiana, including the current and future inmates who are or will be incarcerated in the Vigo County Jail and all current and future individuals who were transported to other county jails as a result of the overcrowding in the Vigo County Jail.” 2017 WL 2198632.

On November 21, 2016, the plaintiffs moved for a preliminary injunction to enjoin the defendant from the unconstitutional practice of overcrowding the jail and to compel the defendant to implement a concrete plan for construction of a new jail.

On June 22, 2018, plaintiffs sought partial summary judgment for declaratory judgment and injunctive relief. On October 10, 2018, Judge Magnus-Stinson granted this motion and awarded injunctive relief. The injunction ordered the defendants to make a periodic report of the ongoing constitutional violations at the jail, to file a detailed report explaining how many staff-people they would add to improve the jail’s living environment, and to submit a concrete plan to construct and open a new jail. The court noted that the plaintiffs requested-- and the defendants did not respond to this request-- that the court retain jurisdiction over this matter even after the damages actions are resolved. This would end once a new facility is opened and there is agreement that constitutional requirements are satisfied. 2018 WL 4922038.

On December 19, 2018, the court ordered defendants to pay plaintiffs $75,000 for attorney's fees and costs.The defendants' first report filed on November 6, 2018, mentioned that the council voted to fund for hiring jail personnel and the commissioner selected the proposed site for a new jail. This report also mentioned that a plan to construct a new jail on the original proposed site failed because of the zoning restriction. The defendants' report filed on January 14, 2019, mentioned that the commissioner worked on deciding the alternative site for a new jail.

A settlement conference was held on February 25, 2019. Claims as to one individual plaintiff were resolved. All pending motions regarding this plaintiff were denied as moot and and all dates regarding this plaintiff were vacated. The same day, the parties filed a stipulation for the court to enter final judgment as to all claims for injunctive and declaratory relief pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 54(b).

Three days later the judge issued an order that granted the plaintiff's request for injunctive relief and declared that the conditions at Vigo County Jail violated the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. The court ordered that the defendants appear before the court at least every three months to report on the action being taken to address the constitutional violations. Prior to each hearing before the court, the defendants must file a report with the court that states the number of staff necessary to comply with the injunctive relief granted and how and when the new staff will be added. Additionally, prior to each hearing before the court, the defendants are also required to submit a plan in writing to the court that details the progress and specifications for the new jail that will be opening. The court also ordered that defendants were required to provide prisoners with at least three hours per week of recreation outside of their cells, and the defendants must provide sufficient staff to ensure that the health and safety of the prisoners is safeguarded.

On March 12, 2019, the defendants filed a status report with the court. This report said that the defendants are considering three locations for a new Vigo County Jail, that defendants had interviewed six applicants but hiring new staff was delayed due to the resignation of 10 other correctional officers, that all prisoners were getting at least one hour of recreation three times per week, and that the staff was doing wellness checks on prisoners every hour, and for prisoners on suicide watch, the wellness checks were every 15 minutes. On April 12, the defendants filed another status report with the court which was very similar to the March status report.

The plaintiffs filed a motion for attorneys fees on April 8, 2019. The parties filed a stipulation regarding attorneys fees in May, and on May 30, 2019 the court issued an order consistent with the stipulation. The defendants were required to pay a total of $10,130.85 in attorneys fees and costs.

On April 15, 2019, the court issued an order that addressed the topics the defendants would include in their monthly status reports. The plaintiffs had filed a motion in March asking for additional information in the defendants' monthly reports, including the status of the property for the new Vigo County Jail, information on the frequency of recreation outside cell areas, incident reports involving prisoner violence, the number of jail employees and any progress in hiring more staff, and the number of prisoners in Vigo County Jail and their status (awaiting transfer, completing sentence at Vigo County Jail, or other).

In May of 2019, the defendants notified the court that they had found a location for the new Vigo County Jail and would be purchasing the property later that month.

In July 2019, the parties filed a joint stipulation to delay ruling on attorneys fees because the parties were negotiating. The court granted the request and deferred ruling on the matter. On August 8, 2019, the parties filed a joint stipulation for attorneys fees regarding the personal injuries of one of the plaintiffs. The court approved this stipulation the next day and ordered the defendants to pay $16,000 in attorneys fees on this claim.

Over the next seven months, the defendants filed monthly status reports with the court that were all similar in content to the first status report. In February of 2020, the Court issued an entry stating that the parties had reported a settlement of Plaintiffs’ individual personal injury claims, that counsel advised that there were unresolved issues with two Plaintiffs, and that “[i]f dismissal documents are not submitted by March 24, 2020, the Court will dismiss the personal injury claims with prejudice.” The parties did not file any dismissal documents, so on March 20, 2020, the court dismissed the plaintiff's personal injury claims, but the court dismissed the claims without prejudice to "re-open them for purposes of effectuating settlement only." The same day, the court entered final judgment pursuant to Rule 58 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The court entered final judgment against the plaintiffs and for the defendants on the plaintiff's individual personal injury claims.

Since then, the defendants have continued to file monthly status reports with the court. As of July 2020, the new Vigo County Jail was under construction, additional officer had been hired, interviews were scheduled in order to hire more staff, recreation was being offered 6-8 times per week to most housing cell blocks. Wellness checks were conducted every 60 minutes, and every 15 minutes for prisoners on suicide watch, and the guards were checking for symptoms of COVID-19.

As of July 2020, the defendants continue to file monthly status reports with the court.

Summary Authors

Chiaki Nojiri (3/13/2019)

Sabrina Glavota (7/16/2020)

People

For PACER's information on parties and their attorneys, see: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/6101055/parties/huerta-v-plasse/


Judge(s)

Dinsmore, Mark. J. (Indiana)

Magnus-Stinson, Jane Elizabeth (Indiana)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Falk, Kenneth J. (Indiana)

Lohmeier, Bradley C. (Indiana)

Sutherlin, Michael K. (Indiana)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Friedrich, David P. (Indiana)

McKee, Craig M (Indiana)

Wright, Michael James (Indiana)

Judge(s)

Dinsmore, Mark. J. (Indiana)

Magnus-Stinson, Jane Elizabeth (Indiana)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Falk, Kenneth J. (Indiana)

Lohmeier, Bradley C. (Indiana)

Sutherlin, Michael K. (Indiana)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Friedrich, David P. (Indiana)

McKee, Craig M (Indiana)

Wright, Michael James (Indiana)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Docket [PACER]

July 1, 2020 Docket
1

Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief and Damages--Class Action and Individual Claims

Oct. 13, 2016 Complaint
14

Amended Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief and Damages

Nov. 22, 2016 Complaint
46

Order

2017 WL 2198632

May 19, 2017 Order/Opinion
107

Order

2018 WL 780509

Feb. 8, 2018 Order/Opinion
146

Order

2018 WL 4922038

Oct. 10, 2018 Order/Opinion
148

Defendants' Periodic Report Pursuant to Court's October 10, 2018 Order

Nov. 6, 2018 Monitor/Expert/Receiver Report
162

Defendants Periodic Report Pursuant to Court's November 15, 2018 Order

Dec. 19, 2018 Monitor/Expert/Receiver Report
165

Status Report

Jan. 14, 2019 Monitor/Expert/Receiver Report
178

Final Judgment as to All Claims for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief Pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 54(b)

Feb. 28, 2019 Order/Opinion

Docket

See docket on RECAP: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/6101055/huerta-v-plasse/

Last updated May 11, 2022, 8 p.m.

ECF Number Description Date Link
1

Complaint

1 Civil Cover Sheet

View on PACER

2 Exhibit

View on PACER

3 Proposed Summons

View on PACER

Oct. 13, 2016 PACER
2

Notice of Appearance

Oct. 13, 2016 PACER
3

Notice of Appearance

Oct. 13, 2016 PACER
4

Summons Issued

Oct. 14, 2016 PACER
5

Magistrate Judge's Notice of Availability to Exercise Jurisdiction

Oct. 14, 2016 PACER
6

Notice of Appearance

Oct. 14, 2016 PACER
7

Notice of Appearance

Nov. 3, 2016 PACER
8

Amended Complaint

Nov. 17, 2016 PACER
9

Motion for Leave to File

1 Text of Proposed Order

View on PACER

Nov. 17, 2016 PACER
10

Motion to Certify Class

Nov. 21, 2016 PACER
11

Brief/Memorandum in Support

Nov. 21, 2016 PACER
12

Motion for Preliminary Injunction

1 Text of Proposed Order

View on PACER

Nov. 21, 2016 PACER
13

Order on Motion for Leave to File

Nov. 22, 2016 PACER
14

Amended Complaint

Nov. 22, 2016 PACER
15

Scheduling Order

Nov. 22, 2016 PACER
17

Status Conference

Dec. 5, 2016 PACER
18

Scheduling Order

Dec. 6, 2016 PACER
19

Notice (Other)

Dec. 16, 2016 PACER
20

Response in Opposition to Motion

Dec. 16, 2016 PACER
21

Notice of Appearance

Dec. 22, 2016 PACER
22

NOTICE of Parties' First Extension of Time

Dec. 27, 2016 PACER
23

Motion to Withdraw

1 Text of Proposed Order Proposed Order Withdrawing Filing at 22

View on PACER

Dec. 28, 2016 PACER
24

Order on Motion to Withdraw

Dec. 29, 2016 PACER
25

Scheduling Order

Jan. 6, 2017 PACER
27

Notice of Appearance

Jan. 9, 2017 PACER
28

Status Conference

Jan. 11, 2017 PACER
29

Status Conference

Jan. 12, 2017 PACER
30

Entry

Jan. 12, 2017 PACER
31

Motion to Withdraw Attorney Appearance

1 Text of Proposed Order

View on PACER

Jan. 18, 2017 PACER
32

Order on Motion to Withdraw Attorney Appearance

Jan. 20, 2017 PACER
33

Motion (Other)

1 Text of Proposed Order

View on PACER

Feb. 27, 2017 PACER
34

Order on Motion

March 17, 2017 PACER
36

Motion (Other)

1 Notice to Class Members

View on PACER

2 Timeframe for Completion of Vigo County Security Complex

View on PACER

3 Text of Proposed Order

View on PACER

March 27, 2017 PACER
37

Motion (Other)

April 7, 2017 PACER
38

Status Conference

April 7, 2017 PACER
39

Scheduling Order

April 14, 2017 PACER
40

Telephone Conference

April 21, 2017 PACER
41

Motion (Other)

1 Text of Proposed Order

View on PACER

May 8, 2017 PACER
42

Order on Motion

May 9, 2017 PACER
43

Brief/Memorandum in Support

1 Exhibit A

View on PACER

2 Exhibit B

View on PACER

3 Exhibit C

View on PACER

4 Exhibit D

View on PACER

May 15, 2017 PACER
44

Motion (Other)

May 15, 2017 PACER
45

NOTICE of Filing

May 15, 2017 PACER
46

MINUTE ORDER for proceedings held before Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson: On May 17, 2017, the Court held a hearing on the parties' Joint Motion to Approve Joint Stipulation and Class Certification, [Filing No. 37 ]. Plaintiffs were present by co unsel Michael Sutherlin. Defendant Sheriff Greg Ewing was present in person and by counsel Craig McKee, David Friedrich, and Michael Wright. The remaining Defendants were present by counsel David Friedrich and Michael Wright. The court reporter wa s Jean Knepley. The Court DENIES IN PART WITH EXPLANATION the Joint Motion to Approve Stipulation and Class Certification to the extent it requests approval of the Joint Stipulation. [Filing No. 37 ] The Court, therefore, ACCEPTS the Proposed Join t Stipulation, [Filing No. 44 ] The Court GRANTS IN PART the Joint Motion to Approve Joint Stipulation and Class Certification, [Filing No. 37 ], to the extent that it seeks class certification, and likewise GRANTS Plaintiffs' Motion for Cla ss Certification, [Filing No. 10 ]. The joint stipulation filed on March 27, 2017 [Filing No. 36 ] is WITHDRAWN. Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction, [Filing No. 12 ], remains pending. (SEE ORDER FOR MORE DETAILS.) Signed by Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson. (Court Reporter Jean Knepley.) (Attachments: # 1 Class Notice)(MRI)

1 Class Notice

View on PACER

May 19, 2017 RECAP
47

Motion for Preliminary Injunction

May 22, 2017 PACER
48

Reassignment Order - DKL

May 23, 2017 PACER
49

Order

May 23, 2017 PACER
50

Scheduling Order

May 24, 2017 PACER
52

Notice of Appearance

June 1, 2017 PACER
53

Status Conference

June 2, 2017 PACER
54

Status Report

June 9, 2017 PACER
55

Motion for Extension of Time

June 16, 2017 PACER
56

Submission

June 19, 2017 PACER
57

Order on Motion for Extension of Time to File

June 19, 2017 PACER
58

Motion for Extension of Time

1 Text of Proposed Order

View on PACER

June 23, 2017 PACER
59

Order on Motion for Extension of Time to File

June 26, 2017 PACER
60

Motion for Pretrial Conference

1 Text of Proposed Order Proposed Order

View on PACER

June 30, 2017 PACER
61

Order on Motion for Pretrial Conference

July 5, 2017 PACER
62

Motion to Withdraw Attorney Appearance

1 Text of Proposed Order

View on PACER

July 26, 2017 PACER
63

Order on Motion to Withdraw Attorney Appearance

July 27, 2017 PACER
64

Pretrial Conference - Interim

Aug. 8, 2017 PACER
65

Motion to Amend/Correct

Aug. 18, 2017 PACER
66

MARGINAL ENTRY denying as moot 47 Motion for Preliminary Injunction - In light of Plaintiffs' Amended Motion for Preliminary Injunction, 65 , the Court DENIES AS MOOT Plaintiffs' Renewed Motion for a Preliminary Injunction Hearing, 47 . The Court may reconsider if necessary. Signed by Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson on 8/18/2017. (JRB) (Main Document 66 replaced on 8/18/2017) (JRB).

Aug. 18, 2017 RECAP
67

MARGINAL ENTRY denying as moot 12 Motion for Preliminary Injunction - Because Plaintiffs have filed an Amended Motion for Preliminary Injunction, 65 , their Motion for Preliminary Injunction, 12 , is DENIED AS MOOT AND WITHOUT PREJUDICE. Signed by Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson on 8/18/2017. (JRB)

Aug. 18, 2017 RECAP
68

Notice (Other)

Aug. 22, 2017 PACER
69

Scheduling Order

Aug. 24, 2017 PACER
70

Notice (Other)

Aug. 25, 2017 PACER
71

Order

Aug. 29, 2017 PACER
73

Pretrial Conference - Initial

Sept. 8, 2017 PACER
74

Order

Sept. 8, 2017 PACER
75

Order: Case Management

Sept. 8, 2017 PACER
77

Status Conference

Sept. 18, 2017 PACER
78

Notice of Change of Attorney Information

Sept. 21, 2017 PACER
79

Motion for Extension of Time

1 Motion for Extension of Time

View on PACER

Oct. 10, 2017 PACER
80

Order on Motion for Extension of Time to File

Oct. 11, 2017 PACER
82

Status Conference

Oct. 18, 2017 PACER
83

Letter

1 Envelope

View on PACER

Nov. 29, 2017 PACER
84

Motion (Other)

1 Text of Proposed Order

View on PACER

Dec. 7, 2017 PACER
85

Order on Motion

Dec. 8, 2017 PACER
87

Order on Motion to Amend/Correct

Dec. 18, 2017 PACER
88

Notice of Service of Initial Disclosures

Dec. 21, 2017 PACER
89

Witness List

Dec. 21, 2017 PACER
90

Exhibit List

Dec. 21, 2017 PACER
92

Scheduling Order

Jan. 2, 2018 PACER
94

Status Conference

Jan. 4, 2018 PACER
95

Motion (Other)

Jan. 11, 2018 PACER
96

Notice of Service of Initial Disclosures

Jan. 16, 2018 PACER
97

Motion (Other)

1 Exhibit

View on PACER

Jan. 16, 2018 PACER
98

Order

Jan. 19, 2018 PACER
99

Motion (Other)

1 Text of Proposed Order

View on PACER

Jan. 25, 2018 PACER
100

Motion (Other)

Jan. 25, 2018 PACER
102

Order on Motion

Jan. 29, 2018 PACER
104

Status Conference

Feb. 1, 2018 PACER
103

Motion to Take Deposition

1 Text of Proposed Order to take deposition

View on PACER

Feb. 2, 2018 PACER
105

Order on Motion to Take Deposition

Feb. 5, 2018 PACER
106

Order

Feb. 5, 2018 PACER
107

ORDER - For the foregoing reasons, the Court DENIES Plaintiffs' Motion for the Appointment of a Three Judge Panel, 95 . To the extent that circumstances change which would support the appointment of a three-judge panel, Plaintiffs may re-file their motion (SEE ORDER FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION). Signed by Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson on 2/8/2018. (DW)

Feb. 8, 2018 RECAP
108

Settlement Conference

Feb. 28, 2018 PACER
109

Answer to Amended Complaint

March 1, 2018 PACER
111

Order

March 27, 2018 PACER
112

Status Conference

March 29, 2018 PACER

State / Territory: Indiana

Case Type(s):

Jail Conditions

Special Collection(s):

Post-WalMart decisions on class certification

Key Dates

Filing Date: Oct. 13, 2016

Case Ongoing: Yes

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

All individuals in the care and custody of Vigo County, Indiana, including the current and future inmates who are or will be incarcerated in the Vigo County Jail and all current and future individuals who were transported to other county jails as a result of the overcrowding in the Vigo County Jail.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Attorney Organizations:

ACLU Affiliates (any)

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Granted

Defendants

Sheriff of Vigo County (Terre Haute, Vigo), County

Vigo County Comissioners (Terre Haute, Vigo), County

Vigo County Council (Terre Haute, Vigo), County

Defendant Type(s):

Corrections

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

Constitutional Clause(s):

Due Process

Equal Protection

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Monetary Relief

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Non-settlement Outcome

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Attorneys fees

Declaratory Judgment

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Litigation

Form of Settlement:

Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree

Amount Defendant Pays: $101,130.85

Content of Injunction:

Goals (e.g., for hiring, admissions)

Hire

Monitoring

Reporting

Preliminary relief request withdrawn/mooted

Issues

General:

Access to lawyers or judicial system

Bathing and hygiene

Conditions of confinement

Confidentiality

Counseling

Education

Funding

Grievance Procedures

Recreation / Exercise

Sanitation / living conditions

Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)

Totality of conditions

Visiting

Crowding:

Crowding / caseload

Post-PLRA Population Cap

Medical/Mental Health:

Medical care, general

Medication, administration of

Mental health care, general

Skin Infections

Tuberculosis

Untreated pain

Type of Facility:

Government-run