Case: Balla v. Board of Corrections

1:81-cv-01165 | U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho

Filed Date: May 15, 1981

Case Ongoing

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On May 15, 1981, a prisoner at the Idaho State Correctional Institution ("ISCI") filed a class action lawsuit against the Idaho State Board of Corrections in the United States District Court for the District of Idaho alleging Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment violations pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 as well as numerous state claims. The allegations included: (1) the prison was overcrowded and understaffed, increasing the likelihood of violence; (2) the classification system at the prison, which p…

On May 15, 1981, a prisoner at the Idaho State Correctional Institution ("ISCI") filed a class action lawsuit against the Idaho State Board of Corrections in the United States District Court for the District of Idaho alleging Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment violations pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 as well as numerous state claims. The allegations included: (1) the prison was overcrowded and understaffed, increasing the likelihood of violence; (2) the classification system at the prison, which placed new prisoners in "close custody" until they proved by their behavior they should be moved, subjected prisoners to physical and sexual assault; (3) medical care was deficient and resulted in deliberate indifference to the serious needs of the prisoners; (4) the food was inadequate in terms of both quality and quantity; (5) significant disparities existed between the way protective custody (high threat) and medium custody (low threat) prisoners were treated especially in terms of clothing and food portions; and (6) the manner in which the prison staff conducted both reclassification and parole hearings violated the prisoners' rights to due process. After being represented by a lay prisoner, plaintiffs were subsequently represented by the ACLU and private counsel. Plaintiffs sought declaratory relief, injunction, and damages.

After a thirteen day trial, the District Court (Judge Harold Ryan) ordered that (1) if prisoners were to be double celled, then the prison would have to employ twice the security personnel; (2) the classification scheme must be altered to protect younger prisoners; (3) 24-hour emergency medical care should be made available and the prison must develop a plan to improve its medical care services within 180 days; (4) the prison must improve its food services including taking into account special dietary needs of prisoners; (5) protective custody prisoners must be given insulated underwear to augment their inadequate clothing or be given clothing equal to that of prisoners in medium custody; and (6) the prison administration shall develop a procedure prior to prisoner disciplinary hearings that will ensure prisoners' due process rights are protected. Balla v. Idaho State Bd. of Corr. (Balla I), 595 F.Supp. 1558 (D. Idaho 1984).

Plaintiffs moved for an order holding the defendants in contempt, which the court subsequently denied. Then, after a series of compliance hearings, the court decided to have an expert examine the facility to determine whether the overcrowding amounted to a constitutional violation. After the inspection, the court (Judge Ryan) determined that the overcrowded conditions of the prison violated the prisoners' Eighth Amendment rights. The court ordered a permanent injunction against the prison and placed occupancy limits on several of the cell units, enjoined defendants from housing prisoners in day rooms or rooms not designed to for cell purposes, and ordered that plumbing malfunctions in the prison be remedied within forty-eight hours. Balla v. Bd. of Corr. (Balla II), 656 F.Supp. 1108 (D. Idaho 1987).

On March 3, 1989, with defendants still failing to solve overcrowding problems in cell units, plaintiffs appealed the court's denial of the motion for contempt and defendants requested an extension of time to meet the occupancy limits set by Balla II. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (Judge John Wallace) denied both the appeal and the request for a time extension. The court also found that the prison was not required to establish a special psychological treatment program for sex offenders. Balla v. Idaho State Bd. of Corr., 869 F.2d 461 (9th Cir. 1989).

In 2003, defendants, still out of compliance with the court's injunctions, filed a motion to terminate injunctive relief pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), which limits prospective relief in certain circumstances, seeking to terminate the injunctions set forth in Balla I and Balla II. A hearing was held in the United States District Court for the District of Idaho, and the court (Judge James Fitzgerald) denied defendants' motion finding that there were current and ongoing violations of the injunctive order, and it ordered that overcrowding and plumbing issues currently plaguing the prison be addressed immediately. Balla v. Idaho Bd. of Corrections, No. CV81-1165, 2005 WL 2403817 (D. Idaho Sept. 26, 2005). The prison population had grown from approximately 750 in 1987 to 1,416 prisoners in 2005. The court noted that "[s]eventeen years after the injunctive orders . . . conditions . . . are worse . . . than when the original injunctive orders were put in place." The court (Judge Fitzgerald) subsequently denied defendants' motion to reconsider and awarded plaintiffs attorneys' fees totaling over $150,000. Balla v. Idaho Bd. of Corrections, No. CV81-1165, 2005 WL 3412806 (D. Idaho Dec. 9, 2005).

In response to the decision, Idaho prison officials transferred more than 300 prisoners to a Corrections Corporation of America prison in Appleton, Minnesota, at a cost of $1.1 million. According to news reports, prison officials plan to ask the state legislature for $160 million to construct three new prisons, and for an additional $7.9 million to cover the cost of housing overflow prisoners both out-of-state and in county jail cells.

In January of 2006, plaintiffs moved for a TRO, a preliminary injunction, and for a finding of contempt, arguing that defendants' planned construction work on plumbing at ISCI deprived them of regular access to showers in violation of the permanent injunction in Balla II and their constitutional rights. In June, the District Court (Judge Edward J. Lodge) denied plaintiffs' motions, holding that plaintiffs "fail[ed] to state a cognizable constitutional claim" and that nothing in the record links the allegations to dangerous hygienic conditions from the lack of showers. Balla v. Idaho Bd. of Corr., No. CV81-1165, 2006 WL 1793555 (D. Idaho June 28, 2006).

In February of 2007, less than eighteen months after the court denied the defendants' motion to terminate prospective relief, the defendants again asked the court to free them from their obligations, specifically with regard to the prisoner population cap. On March 16, 2007, the court (Judge B. Lynn Winmill) granted the plaintiffs' motion to postpone the automatic stay that would result from defendants' motion. The court also issued show cause orders, stating that it intended to reappoint a Federal Rule of Evidence 706 expert to assess defendants' compliance with the population cap; that defendants would be responsible for paying his fees; that the court would be appointing counsel to represent plaintiffs; and that the defendants would be responsible for paying their attorneys' fees on a monthly basis. Ten days later, the defendants withdrew their motion to terminate.

Despite the withdrawal of defendants' motion, plaintiffs continued to seek appointment of new class representatives. Plaintiffs' counsel, appointed by the court, argued that this would facilitate consultation with prisoner about prison conditions and reduce the number of individual claims that may arise from alleged overcrowding. The court (Judge Winmill) agreed, appointed new class representatives, and ordered that defendants provide plaintiffs' counsel thirty days' notice in the event they decide to refile a motion to terminate the injunctive orders. The court also granted the plaintiffs' counsel attorneys' fees totaling just under $18,000 for their work on defendants' withdrawn motion. Balla v. Idaho Bd. of Corr., No. CV-81-1165, 2007 WL 4531304 (D. Idaho Dec. 18, 2007).

In January of 2009, a riot broke out at ISCI that destroyed a nearly-completed new prisoner housing unit. As a result of the riot, defendants were forced to house prisoners at ISCI in excess of the population caps imposed by the court. The plaintiffs asked the court for an order holding defendants in contempt of the Balla injunctions. On May 28, 2009, the court (Judge Winmill) denied plaintiffs' motion. The court found that "no good choices were open to [defendants] for managing the increased population in the immediate aftermath of the riot," short of exceeding the population caps. The court also noted that defendants had returned the prison population to pre-riot levels in about three-and-a-half weeks. Balla v. Idaho Bd. of Corr., No. CV 81-1165, 2009 WL 1513182 (D. Idaho May 28, 2009). On the same day, the court resolved a lingering dispute as to whether the Balla I and Balla II injunctions could be enforced through contempt motions, finding that they could. Balla v. Idaho Bd. of Corr., No. CV81-1165, 2009 WL 1574454 (D. Idaho May 28, 2009).

On March 30, 2010, the court granted plaintiffs' attorneys' fees in the amount of $76,185.60 and costs in the amount of $1,249.20 for monitoring work during the period of December 11, 2007 through June 22, 2009. The court also indicated it would schedule a status conference to discuss monitoring of the case going forward. Balla v. Idaho Bd. of Corr., No. CV 81-1165, 2010 WL 1338065 (D. Idaho Mar. 30, 2010). The state appealed this order, and the District Court (Judge Winmill) denied a stay pending appeal. Balla v. Idaho Bd. of Corr., No. CV 81-1165, 2010 WL 3001442 (D. Idaho July 28, 2010). The Ninth Circuit subsequently affirmed the award of fees. Balla v. Idaho, 677 F.3d 910 (9th Cir. 2012).

On January 6, 2011, the court (Judge Winmill) ordered the parties to submit names of candidates to serve as special master. In speaking of the need for a special master, the Court stated that evidence supported "colorable allegations of continuing class-wide Eighth Amendment violations with respect to inadequate medical and psychiatric care," convincing the court that it could not close the case under the present circumstances. The court remarked that "[i]n its current posture . . . the case languishes in a sort of no man's land, with neither side apparently ready or willing to take the offensive, which does not further the Court's goal of moving the case in a positive direction, decreasing oversight, and protecting the rights of the prisoner class. In short, the Court and the parties need assistance [from a special master] in breaking this stalemate and moving toward finality." Balla v. Idaho Bd. of Corr., No. 81-cv-1165, 2011 WL 108727 (D. Idaho Jan. 6, 2011). Six months later, the court appointed Dr. Marc F. Stern as special master.

On March 19, 2012, the special master issued a report in which he reviewed the state of healthcare at ISCI. The master noted that there were "serious problems" with delivery of medical and mental healthcare services. He also noted that defendants' willingness to entertain change is "very positive and commendable."

Following the issuance of the special master's report, the case was referred to District Judge David O. Carter (C.D. Cal.) for the purpose of conducting a settlement conference. Settlement discussions took place over a number of days in April and May 2012.

In May of 2012, the parties stipulated to modify the injunctive relief sought in the case. The stipulation set forth a framework for continued monitoring, including the formulation of modified compliance plans; monitoring meetings; and a compliance audit with the National Commission on Correctional Health Care.

On February 8, 2013, the court (Judge Winmill) again awarded interim attorneys' fees to Plaintiffs' counsel. It awarded $172,917.10 in fees and $1,994.29 in costs. Balla v. Idaho Bd. of Corr., No. CV81-1165, 2013 WL 501646 (D. Idaho Feb. 8, 2013).

Settlement conferences continued in May and August 2013 and April 2014. A hearing took place on January 29, 2015, but the contents of the meeting are sealed. Plaintiffs moved for sanctions on June 22, 2015. This motion was granted in part on August 11, 2015. The court determined that the defendants acted with improper purpose to withhold information from the court's special master, specifically related to inadequate record-keeping regarding mental healthcare and excessive use of "dry cells," cells that lacked beds and running water, to punish prisoners. The court found that the plaintiff met the burden of showing by clear and convincing evidence that the defendants harmed the integrity of the judicial process by their destruction of relevant evidence. The court additionally granted plaintiffs further attorneys' fees and costs on November 20, 2015.

The state of Idaho appealed to the Ninth Circuit on December 29, 2015, and the case was referred to Judge David O. Carter in the Central District of California on January 5, 2016, who was to help implement the settlement. On April 4, 2016, Judge Carter ordered interim attorneys' fees and costs to the plaintiffs, as well as costs to reimbursed to certain class members directly. On October 25, 2016, the Ninth Circuit granted appellant's voluntary motion to dismiss its appeal.

On March 20, 2017, plaintiffs moved for an order to show cause why defendants should not be held in contempt, a hearing, and sanctions. After a hearing on July 28, the court granted in part and denied in part the plaintiffs' motion for contempt on September 28. The court found that defendants were in contempt of the court's June 2014 order between June 2014 and July 2016, but that the plaintiffs did not adequately show contempt after July 2016. The court denied compensatory damages, however, because plaintiffs did not show that they were harmed by the violation. Judge Carter referred the case back to the District of Idaho to determine the most appropriate remedy. On October 13, 2017, the District of Idaho (Judge Winmill) ordered no relief as a result of the contempt.

Throughout 2018, there was significant infighting within the plaintiff class regarding the appointment of class representative. Following multiple competing motions filed by individual members of the class, the court approved the substitution of two new class representatives on May 1, 2018.

The defendants filed a motion to terminate prospective relief on March 1, 2019. The court issued an automatic stay of the injunctive relief pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3626(e)(3). On April 4, 2019, the plaintiffs moved for reconsideration of the stay. The court granted this motion on April 18, 2019 and the parties jointly stipulated to the voluntary termination of certain injunctive relief the next day.

The parties engaged in extensive litigation in preparation for the evidentiary hearing on the defendants' motion for termination of relief scheduled for January 2020, but later rescheduled to February 3, 2020. During the course of the litigation, the plaintiffs moved for an emergency injunction for medical treatment on September 4, 2019 and for a temporary restraining order on September 24, 2019. Judge Winmill denied both motions on November 5, 2019.

The eleven-day evidentiary hearing began on February 3, 2019. As of April 10, 2020, the parties are awaiting a ruling. This case is ongoing.

Summary Authors

Emilee Baker (5/9/2006)

Dan Whitman (1/25/2015)

Elizabeth Heise (10/21/2018)

Alex Moody (4/10/2020)

People

For PACER's information on parties and their attorneys, see: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/4247560/parties/balla-v-idaho-state-of/


Judge(s)

Carter, David O. (California)

Fitzgerald, James Martin (Alaska)

Hug, Procter Ralph Jr. (Nevada)

Kleinfeld, Andrew Jay (Alaska)

Lodge, Edward J. (Idaho)

Ryan, Harold Lyman (Idaho)

Wallace, John Clifford (California)

Winmill, B. Lynn (Idaho)

Wright, Eugene Allen (Washington)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Blackman, Allison M. (Idaho)

Judge(s)

Carter, David O. (California)

Fitzgerald, James Martin (Alaska)

Hug, Procter Ralph Jr. (Nevada)

Kleinfeld, Andrew Jay (Alaska)

Lodge, Edward J. (Idaho)

Ryan, Harold Lyman (Idaho)

Wallace, John Clifford (California)

Winmill, B. Lynn (Idaho)

Wright, Eugene Allen (Washington)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Blackman, Allison M. (Idaho)

Dixon, Bradley J. (Idaho)

Olson, Wendy J. (Idaho)

Patterson, George (Idaho)

Pevar, Stephen L. (Colorado)

Pooser, William C. (Idaho)

Prince, James Emerson (Idaho)

Sinclair, J. Walter (Idaho)

Watkins, Elijah Martin (Idaho)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Church, Brian V. (Idaho)

Gates, Robert R. (Idaho)

Gilmore, Michael S. (Idaho)

Goodenough, Fred (Idaho)

Jones, Jim (Idaho)

Kronberg, Chris (Idaho)

Kubinski, Mark A. (Idaho)

Loomis, William M. (Idaho)

McNeese, Timothy R. (Idaho)

Murphy, Michaelina (California)

Panther, Paul R. (Idaho)

Zahn, Colleen D. (Idaho)

Expert/Monitor/Master

Ruiz, Amanda (California)

Schwartzmiller, Dean (Idaho)

Stern, Marc F. (Washington)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Docket [PACER]

Balla v. State of Idaho

April 27, 2020 Docket

Memorandum Opinion, Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Order

Balla v. Idaho State Board of Corrections

595 F.Supp. 1558, 1984 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 22268

Nov. 1, 1984 Order/Opinion

Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law and Order

656 F.Supp. 1108, 1987 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 2691

March 25, 1987 Order/Opinion

Reported Opinion

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

869 F.2d 461, 1989 U.S.App.LEXIS 2512

March 8, 1989 Order/Opinion
585

Memorandum Decision and Order

Balla v. Idaho Board of Corrections

Sept. 22, 2005 Order/Opinion
601

Judgment

Dec. 13, 2005 Order/Opinion
631

MEMORANDUM ORDER

Balla v. Idaho Board of Correction

2006 WL 1793555

June 28, 2006 Order/Opinion
689

Order and Order to Show Cause

Balla v. Idaho Board of Corrections

March 16, 2007 Order/Opinion
724

Order

Balla v. Idaho Board of Corrections

2007 WL 4531304

Dec. 18, 2007 Order/Opinion
768

Memorandum Decision and Order

Balla v. Idaho Board of Corrections

2009 WL 1574454

May 28, 2009 Order/Opinion

Docket

See docket on RECAP: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/4247560/balla-v-idaho-state-of/

Last updated May 13, 2022

ECF Number Description Date Link
326

Motion for Miscellaneous Relief

July 27, 1995 PACER
327

Memorandum in Support of Motion

July 27, 1995 PACER
328

Affidavit

July 27, 1995 PACER
329

Notice (Other)

Aug. 3, 1995 PACER
330

Motion for Miscellaneous Relief

Aug. 8, 1995 PACER
331

Notice of Appearance

Aug. 11, 1995 PACER
332

Response to Motion

Aug. 11, 1995 PACER
333

Request

Aug. 16, 1995 PACER
334

Notice of Hearing

Aug. 16, 1995 PACER
335

Notice of Appearance

Aug. 22, 1995 PACER
336

Response to Motion

Aug. 22, 1995 PACER
337

Affidavit

Aug. 22, 1995 PACER
338

Reply to Response to Motion

Aug. 24, 1995 PACER
339

Order

Aug. 28, 1995 PACER
340

Reply to Response to Motion

Aug. 28, 1995 PACER
341

Minutes - Miscellaneous

Sept. 5, 1995 PACER
342

Order

Sept. 5, 1995 PACER
343

Request

Oct. 20, 1995 PACER
344

Response(generic)

Oct. 31, 1995 PACER
345

Stipulation

Oct. 31, 1995 PACER
350

Motion for Miscellaneous Relief

Nov. 17, 1995 PACER
346

Order

Nov. 24, 1995 PACER
347

Motion to Intervene

Nov. 28, 1995 PACER
348

Motion for Miscellaneous Relief

Nov. 28, 1995 PACER
349

Response to Motion

Dec. 17, 1995 PACER
351

Motion for Miscellaneous Relief

Dec. 18, 1995 PACER
352

Motion for Miscellaneous Relief

Dec. 28, 1995 PACER
353

Order

Jan. 11, 1996 PACER
354

Response to Motion

Jan. 31, 1996 PACER
355

Motion for Miscellaneous Relief

Feb. 5, 1996 PACER
356

Motion to Intervene

Feb. 5, 1996 PACER
357

Response to Motion

Feb. 20, 1996 PACER
358

Motion for Summary Judgment

April 26, 1996 PACER
359

Memorandum in Support of Motion

April 26, 1996 PACER
360

Statement

April 26, 1996 PACER
361

Memorandum in Opposition to Motion

May 10, 1996 PACER
362

Affidavit

May 10, 1996 PACER
363

Affidavit

May 10, 1996 PACER
364

Reply to Response to Motion

May 29, 1996 PACER
365

Notice of Hearing

May 31, 1996 PACER
366

Minutes - Miscellaneous

June 10, 1996 PACER
367

Order

July 24, 1996 PACER
368

Order

July 24, 1996 PACER
369

Order

Nov. 1, 1996 PACER
370

Notice of Substitution

Dec. 5, 1996 PACER
371

Notice of Change of Address

Jan. 6, 1997 PACER
372

Order

May 15, 1997 PACER
373

Status Report

Aug. 1, 1997 PACER
374

Answer to Complaint

Aug. 1, 1997 PACER
375

Status Report

Aug. 4, 1997 PACER
376

Motion for Summary Judgment

Aug. 15, 1997 PACER
377

Memorandum in Support of Motion

Aug. 15, 1997 PACER
378

Affidavit

Aug. 15, 1997 PACER
379

Affidavit

Aug. 15, 1997 PACER
380

Affidavit

Aug. 15, 1997 PACER
421

Affidavit

Aug. 15, 1997 PACER
381

Miscellaneous Document

Sept. 9, 1997 PACER
382

Motion for Relief

Sept. 12, 1997 PACER
383

Affidavit

Sept. 12, 1997 PACER
384

Miscellaneous Document

Sept. 15, 1997 PACER
385

Reply to Response to Motion

Sept. 29, 1997 PACER
386

Motion to Amend/Correct

Oct. 3, 1997 PACER
387

Miscellaneous Document

Oct. 4, 1997 PACER
388

Memorandum in Opposition to Motion

Oct. 9, 1997 PACER
389

Miscellaneous Document

Oct. 16, 1997 PACER
390

Reply to Response to Motion

Oct. 24, 1997 PACER
391

Miscellaneous Document

Nov. 3, 1997 PACER
392

Order

Feb. 26, 1998 PACER
393

Motion to Compel

April 6, 1998 PACER
394

Response to Motion

April 20, 1998 PACER
395

Affidavit

April 20, 1998 PACER
396

Motion to Strike

April 20, 1998 PACER
397

Affidavit

April 20, 1998 PACER
398

Affidavit

April 27, 1998 PACER
399

Reply to Response to Motion

May 4, 1998 PACER

File Division

May 15, 1998 PACER
400

Motion to Compel

May 15, 1998 PACER
401

Response to Motion

May 29, 1998 PACER
402

Affidavit

May 29, 1998 PACER
403

Miscellaneous Document

June 1, 1998 PACER
404

Reply to Response to Motion

June 19, 1998 PACER
405

Motion for Miscellaneous Relief

June 19, 1998 PACER
406

Response to Motion

July 6, 1998 PACER
407

Response to Motion

July 7, 1998 PACER
408

Notice (Other)

Aug. 6, 1998 PACER
409

Notice of Change of Address

Aug. 24, 1998 PACER
410

Motion to Vacate

Sept. 3, 1998 PACER
411

Response to Motion

Sept. 16, 1998 PACER
412

Motion to Strike

Sept. 16, 1998 PACER
413

Memorandum in Support of Motion

Sept. 16, 1998 PACER
414

Affidavit

Sept. 16, 1998 PACER
415

Response to Motion

Oct. 5, 1998 PACER
416

Reply to Response to Motion

Oct. 5, 1998 PACER
417

Motion to Vacate

Oct. 16, 1998 PACER
418

Memorandum in Support of Motion

Oct. 16, 1998 PACER
419

Affidavit

Oct. 16, 1998 PACER
420

Motion to Expedite

Oct. 16, 1998 PACER
422

Order

Oct. 28, 1998 PACER
423

Response(generic)

Nov. 9, 1998 PACER
424

Stipulation and Order

Dec. 31, 1998 PACER

State / Territory: Idaho

Case Type(s):

Prison Conditions

Key Dates

Filing Date: May 15, 1981

Case Ongoing: Yes

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Inmates at the Idaho State Correctional Institution

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Attorney Organizations:

ACLU National (all projects)

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: Yes

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Granted

Defendants

Idaho Board of Corrections, State

Defendant Type(s):

Jurisdiction-wide

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

Constitutional Clause(s):

Due Process

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Monetary Relief

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Attorneys fees

Source of Relief:

Litigation

Amount Defendant Pays: >$417,000.00

Order Duration: 1984 - None

Content of Injunction:

Preliminary relief denied

Monitor/Master

Issues

General:

Assault/abuse by residents/inmates/students

Assault/abuse by staff

Bathing and hygiene

Classification / placement

Conditions of confinement

Disciplinary procedures

Disciplinary segregation

Food service / nutrition / hydration

Sanitation / living conditions

Sexual abuse by residents/inmates

Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)

Totality of conditions

Crowding:

Crowding / caseload

Pre-PLRA Population Cap

Affected Gender:

Male

Medical/Mental Health:

Medical care, general

Type of Facility:

Government-run