Case: Armstrong v. Metropolitan Gov. of Nashville and Davidson County

3:87-cv-00262 | U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee

Filed Date: March 31, 1987

Closed Date: 2002

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On March 31, 1987, inmates and pretrial detainees being held at the jails in Davidson County, Tennessee filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Tennessee Department of Corrections and the Metropolitan Government of the City of Nashville in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee. The plaintiffs, represented by the Vanderbilt University Legal Clinic, alleged that their constitutional rights had been violated by conditions at the jail, including overcrowd…

On March 31, 1987, inmates and pretrial detainees being held at the jails in Davidson County, Tennessee filed a class action lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Tennessee Department of Corrections and the Metropolitan Government of the City of Nashville in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee. The plaintiffs, represented by the Vanderbilt University Legal Clinic, alleged that their constitutional rights had been violated by conditions at the jail, including overcrowding, poor sanitation, poor security, and lack of fire safety.

On October 20, 1989, the Metropolitan Government admitted before the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee (Judge Thomas Higgins) that its jails were unconstitutional, but Department of Corrections did not admit such violations to exist. On December 13, 1989, the court (Judge Higgins) bifurcated the litigation, and on July 25, 1990, the court ordered the Department of Corrections to remove its convicted felons from the Metropolitan Government's facilities.

On April 30, 1991, the court (Judge Higgins) issued an injunction setting population caps on the Metropolitan jails and approved a remedial plan that addressed the other constitutional violations. Specifically, the plan addressed violations in the areas of personal safety, classification, recreation, programming, sanitation, fire safety, and access to courts. On June 3, 1993, the parties agreed that the Metropolitan jails were no longer unconstitutional and had met the remedial plan's requirements. This was confirmed by the court on November 17, 1993.

On May 18, 1995, the parties agreed that the litigation should end if the Metropolitan Government could demonstrate its ability to control overcrowding in its jails. On February 9, 1997, the Metropolitan Government opened a new 600-bed facility, and on April 7, 2000, they filed a final jail management plan with the court, asking the court to dissolve the population cap injunction and dismiss the case.

On March 11, 2002, the court (Judge Higgins) dissolved the injunction and dismissed the case, holding that conditions in the new jails conformed to the constitution's requirements. Armstrong v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville, 196 F.Supp.2d 673 (M.D.Tenn. 2002).

Summary Authors

Kristen Sagar (6/13/2007)

People


Judge(s)

Higgins, Thomas Aquinas (Tennessee)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Kay, Susan Laurie (Tennessee)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Charles, James Lawrence (Tennessee)

Frayn, Kimberly (Tennessee)

Kennedy, John Lee (Tennessee)

Roberts-Turner, Rita (Tennessee)

Robinson, Charles E. (North Carolina)

Sawyers, Kennetha (Tennessee)

Judge(s)

Higgins, Thomas Aquinas (Tennessee)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Kay, Susan Laurie (Tennessee)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Charles, James Lawrence (Tennessee)

Frayn, Kimberly (Tennessee)

Kennedy, John Lee (Tennessee)

Roberts-Turner, Rita (Tennessee)

Robinson, Charles E. (North Carolina)

Sawyers, Kennetha (Tennessee)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Docket [PACER]

Armstrong v. Sheriff, Davidson

March 13, 2002 Docket
406

Memorandum

Armstrong v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County

196 F.Supp.2d 673, 2002 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 5968

March 11, 2002 Order/Opinion

Docket

Last updated May 13, 2022

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

State / Territory: Tennessee

Case Type(s):

Jail Conditions

Key Dates

Filing Date: March 31, 1987

Closing Date: 2002

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

inmates and pretrial detainees being held at the jails in Davidson County

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: Unknown

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Denied

Defendants

Tennessee Department of Corrections (Davidson), County

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

Constitutional Clause(s):

Due Process

Due Process: Substantive Due Process

Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Litigation

Form of Settlement:

Confession of Judgment

Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree

Order Duration: 1991 - 2002

Issues

General:

Access to lawyers or judicial system

Assault/abuse by staff

Classification / placement

Fire safety

Food service / nutrition / hydration

Recreation / Exercise

Religious programs / policies

Sanitation / living conditions

Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)

Crowding:

Crowding / caseload

Pre-PLRA Population Cap

Type of Facility:

Government-run