Case: Austin v. Wilkinson

4:01-cv-00071 | U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio

Filed Date: Jan. 9, 2001

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On January 9, 2001, inmates at the Ohio State Penitentiary (OSP), represented by the ACLU, filed a Section 1983 class action suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio against officials of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. Plaintiffs alleged violations of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. Specifically, plaintiffs complained of inadequate medical and mental health services, improper classification and transfer procedures, and inadequate suicide pr…

On January 9, 2001, inmates at the Ohio State Penitentiary (OSP), represented by the ACLU, filed a Section 1983 class action suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio against officials of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. Plaintiffs alleged violations of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. Specifically, plaintiffs complained of inadequate medical and mental health services, improper classification and transfer procedures, and inadequate suicide prevention procedures.

Following discovery, the District Court (Judge James S. Gwin) granted plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction preventing defendants from returning seriously mentally ill inmates to OSP and set trial for January 2002. Prior to the trial, the parties agreed to a limited settlement agreement that addressed the classification of inmates, and the inadequacy of the medical and mental health services. In April 2002, following a fairness hearing, the court approved the settlement agreement.

Following the trial, Judge Gwin held that defendants had violated the plaintiff class's right to due process by denying the plaintiffs adequate notice, adequate hearing, and sufficiently detailed decisions regarding transfer. Austin v. Wilkinson, 189 F. Supp. 2d 719 (N.D. Ohio 2002). Following receipt of the parties' proposed injunctive orders, Judge Gwin issued an injunction directing defendants to correct each of the deficiencies the court had found. Austin v. Wilkinson, 204 F. Supp. 2d 1024 (N.D. Ohio 2002). Defendants appealed.

The Court of Appeals affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded, holding that the district court lacked the power to modify substantive prison regulations. Austin v. Wilkinson, 372 F.3d 346 (2004). Prison officials applied for certiorari which was granted.

The Supreme Court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. Writing for the majority, Justice Kennedy held that although the inmates had a liberty interest protected by the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause in avoiding assignment to the supermax prison, the State's new policy and procedures were sufficient to satisfy due process. Wilkinson v. Austin, 125 S. Ct. 2384 (2005).

On August 3, 2006, the District Court (Judge Gwin) granted the defendants' motion to terminate the medical provisions of the injunctive order.

On September 27, 2007, Judge Gwin granted in part and denied in part plaintiffs' motion for order directing defendants to modify their proposed prison administration policies. Judge Gwin ordered defendants to 1) consider and communicate in sufficient detail inmates' positive behavior during the annual review process; 2) provide more justification for security assessments; and 3) revise the election form to better communicate the consequences of choosing to remain at OSP and thereby waiving certain rights. 2007 WL 2840352.

On October 18, 2007, Judge Gwin denied plaintiffs' motion to vacate the previous judgment and reopen mental health claims, which they brought over five years ago and which they agreed as resolved through the Court's earlier findings and orders. 2007 WL 3047157.

Defendants appealed the September 27, 2007, order and moved to stay that order pending appeal. On January 10, 2008, Judge Gwin denied defendants' motion to stay pending appeal because 1) defendants were unlikely to prevail on their appeal; 2) defendants were unlikely to suffer irreparable harm absent a stay; 3) others faced harm if the Court granted the stay; and 4) the stay was not in the public interest. 2008 WL 115094.

On March 12, 2008, Judge Gwin denied plaintiffs' motion to extend the jurisdiction of the Court over this case for another year and granted defendants' motion to terminate the prospective relief provided by the Court's previous orders because defendants were no longer committing ongoing constitutional violations. 2008 WL 697679.

On July 16, 2008, the parties reached a settlement agreement and agreed to terminate the case. Defendants agreed to pay $59,000 in attorneys' fees and costs. As such, on August 4, 2008, the appeal to the Sixth Circuit was dismissed.

Summary Authors

Kristen Sagar (8/16/2007)

Jessica Kincaid (11/8/2013)

People

For PACER's information on parties and their attrorneys, see: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/5650364/parties/austin-v-wilkinson/


Judge(s)

Forester, Karl Spillman (Kentucky)

Gwin, James S. (Ohio)

Kennedy, Anthony McLeod (District of Columbia)

Moore, Karen Nelson (Ohio)

Rogers, John M. (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Alexander, Elizabeth R. (District of Columbia)

Benza, Michael J. (Ohio)

Carney, Stephen P. (Ohio)

Cole, Douglas Russell (Ohio)

Davis, Jillian S. (Ohio)

Judge(s)

Forester, Karl Spillman (Kentucky)

Gwin, James S. (Ohio)

Kennedy, Anthony McLeod (District of Columbia)

Moore, Karen Nelson (Ohio)

Rogers, John M. (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Alexander, Elizabeth R. (District of Columbia)

Benza, Michael J. (Ohio)

Carney, Stephen P. (Ohio)

Cole, Douglas Russell (Ohio)

Davis, Jillian S. (Ohio)

Gamso, Jeffrey M. (Ohio)

Gilbert, Terry H. (Ohio)

Goodman, Bill (New York)

Lobel, Jules L. (Pennsylvania)

Lynd, Staughton (Ohio)

Petro, Jim (Ohio)

Vasvari, Raymond V. Jr. (Ohio)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Angell, Robert C. (Ohio)

Arbogast, Janet R Hill (Ohio)

Holloway, James Eric (Ohio)

Landes, Mark David (Ohio)

Mancini, Joseph Matthew (Ohio)

Marti, Todd Robert (Ohio)

Montgomery, Betty D. (Ohio)

O'Brien, Carol Hamilton (Ohio)

Payer, Charissa D. (Ohio)

Pressman, Marianne (Ohio)

Stankunas, Jeffrey A. (Ohio)

Other Attorney(s)

Deutsch, Michael (Illinois)

Maynard, Deanne (District of Columbia)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

4:01-cv-00071

Docket (PACER)

Aug. 4, 2008

Aug. 4, 2008

Docket
1

4:01-cv-00071

Complaint for Declaratory Judgment and Injunctive Relief

Jan. 9, 2001

Jan. 9, 2001

Complaint
134

4:01-cv-00071

Order

Nov. 21, 2001

Nov. 21, 2001

Order/Opinion

Level 4/Level 5 Classification for Inmates

No Court

Feb. 7, 2002

Feb. 7, 2002

Statute/Ordinance/Regulation
227

4:01-cv-00071

Opinion and Order

189 F.Supp.2d 719

Feb. 25, 2002

Feb. 25, 2002

Order/Opinion
240

4:01-cv-00071

Plaintiffs' Proposed Injunctive Order

March 8, 2002

March 8, 2002

Pleading / Motion / Brief
259

4:01-cv-00071

Order

204 F.Supp.2d 1024

March 26, 2002

March 26, 2002

Order/Opinion
365

4:01-cv-00071

Stipulation for Injunctive Relief

April 5, 2002

April 5, 2002

Order/Opinion
264

4:01-cv-00071

Order

2002 WL 32828650

April 5, 2002

April 5, 2002

Order/Opinion
284

4:01-cv-00071

Order

May 15, 2002

May 15, 2002

Order/Opinion

Resources

Docket

See docket on RECAP: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/5650364/austin-v-wilkinson/

Last updated July 22, 2022, 3:12 a.m.

ECF Number Description Date Link Date / Link
699

Order signed by Judge James S. Gwin on 8/2/06 granting plaintiffs' motion as to security level 4 inmates. Defendants shall transfer inmates at security levels 4 or below with all due speed upon receipt of a valid transfer request. (Related Doc. 674 , 688 , 692 ) (M, G)

Aug. 2, 2006

Aug. 2, 2006

RECAP
702

Order and Opinion signed by Judge James S. Gwin on 8/3/06 granting defendants' motion to terminate the stipulation for injunctive relief, denying plaintiffs' motion to extend the medical provisions of the stipulation for injunctive relief until 7/707, and granting defendants' motion to terminate the medical provisions of the stipulation for injunctive relief. (Related Doc. 655 , 656 , 657 , 696 , 681 , 686 , 697 (M, G)

Aug. 3, 2006

Aug. 3, 2006

RECAP
722

Order signed by Judge James S. Gwin on 12/5/06 denying plaintiffs' motion for leave to file a second amended complaint. (Related Doc. 672 , 682 , 689 ) (M, G)

Dec. 5, 2006

Dec. 5, 2006

RECAP
765

Opinion and Order signed by Judge James S. Gwin on 9/27/07 granting in part and denying in part plaintiffs' motion for order directing defendants to modify their proposed prison administration policies. (Related Doc. 716 ) (M,G)

Sept. 27, 2007

Sept. 27, 2007

RECAP
772

Order signed by Judge James S. Gwin on 10/18/07 denying plaintiffs' motion for order to vacate previous judgment and reopen mental health claims. (Related Docs. 755 , 758 , 762 ) (M,G)

Oct. 18, 2007

Oct. 18, 2007

RECAP
798

Order signed by Judge James S. Gwin on 1/10/08 denying defendants' motion to stay pending appeal of the Court's entry of 9/27/07. (Related Docs. 776 , 779 , 790 ) (M,G) Modified text on 1/11/2008 (M,G).

Jan. 10, 2008

Jan. 10, 2008

RECAP
815

Order signed by Judge James S. Gwin on 3/12/08 denying plaintiffs' motion to extend the jurisdiction of the Court and granting defendants' motion to terminate the prospective relief provided in previous Court orders. (Related Docs. 763 , 764 , 773 , 774 , 777 , 778 , 807 and 813 ) (M,G)

March 12, 2008

March 12, 2008

RECAP

Case Details

State / Territory: Ohio

Case Type(s):

Prison Conditions

Special Collection(s):

Solitary confinement

Multi-LexSum (in sample)

Key Dates

Filing Date: Jan. 9, 2001

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

inmates at the Ohio State Penitentiary

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Attorney Organizations:

ACLU Affiliates (any)

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: Unknown

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Granted

Defendants

Ohio (Youngstown), State

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

Constitutional Clause(s):

Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Due Process

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Monetary Relief

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Any published opinion

U.S. Supreme Court merits opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Attorneys fees

Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree

Amount Defendant Pays: 59,000

Order Duration: 2002 - 0

Content of Injunction:

Preliminary relief granted

Issues

General:

Classification / placement

Solitary confinement/Supermax (conditions or process)

Affected Gender:

Female

Male

Medical/Mental Health:

Mental health care, general

Type of Facility:

Government-run