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Case Name Nunez and United States v. City of New York JC-NY-0055
Docket / Court 1:11-cv-05845-LTS-THK ( S.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Special Collection Post-PLRA enforceable consent decrees
Solitary confinement
Attorney Organization Legal Services/Legal Aid
Case Summary
On August 18, 2011, a class of prisoners filed this lawsuit in the District Court for the Southern District of New York under 42 U.S.C. 1983 for cruel and unusual punishment against the New York City Department of Corrections (DOC). The plaintiffs, represented by the Legal Aid Society and Emery ... read more >
On August 18, 2011, a class of prisoners filed this lawsuit in the District Court for the Southern District of New York under 42 U.S.C. 1983 for cruel and unusual punishment against the New York City Department of Corrections (DOC). The plaintiffs, represented by the Legal Aid Society and Emery Celli, asked the court for declaratory relief, injunctive relief, and damages, claiming that DOC officers routinely inflicted wanton physical violence on prisoners and deliberately falsified records to prevent discovery of their illegal actions.

Claims against the New York City DOC have been numerous and often successful over the past twenty-five years (Fisher v. Koehler, Reynolds v. Ward, Jackson v. Montemango, Sheppard v. Phoenix, Ingles v. Toro). The plaintiffs claimed that former policies were re-instituted as soon as the injunctions expired, or that the injunctions were interpreted narrowly enough to provide room for explicit cruelty. The plaintiffs claimed that officers frequently took prisoners to areas without video cameras or other witnesses, and then beat them. The plaintiffs claimed to have suffered multiple injuries as a result of these abuses, including broken bones, concussions, and other emergency conditions requiring hospitalization and surgery. Finally, the plaintiffs claimed that the defendants routinely falsified documents or fabricated disciplinary charges to cover up their own unlawful conduct or that of their colleagues. The city often would allegedly promote the worst offenders.

On January 7, 2013, the Court (Magistrate Judge James C. Francis IV) granted class certification to the plaintiffs, defining the class as: all present and future inmates confined in jails operated by the New York City DOC, except for the Elmhurst and Bellevue Prison Wards.

Meanwhile, on January 12, 2012, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York informed the city that they were undertaking an investigation of the prison conditions on Rikers Island under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act. The DOJ issued a findings letter in that matter, reporting the frequent use of excessive force, inadequate systematic supervision, and prolonged punitive solitary confinement on August 4, 2014. A press release is available on the Department of Justice's website. That is discussed in case JC-NY-0062 in this Clearinghouse.

On December 18, 2014, the Department of Justice filed a motion seeking permission to intervene in this case and pursue its action under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act. The Court granted the unopposed motion to intervene on December 23, 2014. Settlement negotiations were immediately initiated.

On July 1, 2015, the plaintiffs filed a motion to approve a consent settlement. The DOJ issued a statement on their website the same day. The consent settlement included provisions completely prohibiting certain types of force. The DOC also agreed to report all incidents where the staff used force on a prisoner. All Use of Force incidents resulting in major injuries to the prisoner resulted in a mandatory video-recorded interview of the injured prisoner and other witnesses, and referred for an investigation to the Investigation Division of the DOC. The DOC agreed to install 7,800 wall-mounted cameras and at least 100 body-worn or hand-held cameras to facilitate the investigations. Staff that violate the use of force guidelines will be disciplined, up to termination. Staff could not be promoted if they had a poor disciplinary use of force record or a pending disciplinary investigation.

The DOC agreed to no longer put prisoners under 18 in any punitive isolation. Prisons housing youth were required to have certain staffing levels and routine examination of the premises to ensure security and safety of the prisoners. The DOC also agreed to begin searching for an alternative location, off Rikers Island, for prisoners under 18.

Finally, the parties agreed to a monitor, who visited the prisons and wrote a progress report every four months, penologist Steve Martin.

On October 21, 2015, the Court (Judge Laura Taylor Swain) approved the consent judgment and implementation began, enforced by the court.

On December 4, 2019, Judge Swain issued an order and modified the consent judgment, adding "[a]ny Board employee who witnesses a Use of Force Incident must report the incident in writing directly to the area Tour Commander or to a supervisor who is responsible for investigating the incident. This shall include, but not be limited to, filling out the narrative section of any witness report."

The monitor's ninth report raised concerns about the defendants' efforts to advance reforms and the treatment of 16 and 17 year olds. The report raised non-compliance issues with " (1) implementing the Use of Force Directive; (2) addressing the backlog of investigations and improving use of force investigations going forward; (3) improving Staff discipline and accountability; and (4) addressing the high level of disorder at RNDC, where most of the 18-year-old inmates are housed."

In response to the issues raised in the ninth monitor report, the court ordered the Monitoring Team to file a status report by July 2, 2020. This report from the monitor outlined the progress that the parties had made and indicated that the parties "are in a position to reach a joint agreement." In this report, the monitor noted that the parties have not decided how to treat 16 and 17 year olds in compliance with the terms of the consent judgment and new legislation in New York that created a new legal status for 16 and 17 year olds arrested of felonies. After the monitor filed this status report, and urged the parties to continue to work towards a finalized joint proposal.

On August 14, 2020, the Court issued a remedial consent order addressing the defendants' non-compliance on use of force. The order instructed Facility Wardens to promptly review all incidents involving use of force to determine if any corrective action was warranted. Among other changes to the consent decree, this remedial order instructed the defendants to take immediate correct actions to determine whether any staff members "should be subject to immediate corrective action pending the completion of the use of force investigation."

The Tenth Monitoring Report and Eleventh Monitoring Reports expressed similar concerns as prior reports by noting that "[t]he City and Department have established a record of non-compliance in the most fundamental goals of the Consent Judgment, most especially regarding the use of force and accountability for violations of these requirements."

Meanwhile, the monitor began filing status reports about the remedial order from August 14, 2020. The First Remedial Report, issued on December 8, 2020, noted that investigations into use of force had begun, but little corrective action had been taken. The Second Report, issued on June 3, 2021, focused on "problem-solving efforts designed to advance the overall reform."

On August 24, 2021, the Monitoring Team field a letter to Judge Swain advising the court of the Team's "grave concerns about the conditions and pervasive high level of disorder and chaos in the New York City jails." The letter stated that the conditions in the jails have deteriorated from the dismal state reported in previous monitoring reports, resulting in a steady increase in serious use of force incidents, a rise in the level of security lapses and unchecked breaches, and instances of inadequate supervision.

The case remains ongoing.

Kya Henley - 04/07/2014
Kathryn DeLong - 09/24/2014
Kathryn DeLong - 10/27/2015
Sam Kulhanek - 02/10/2019
Sabrina Glavota - 07/30/2020
Justin Hill - 09/02/2021


compress summary

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Male
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process
Equal Protection
Content of Injunction
Implement complaint/dispute resolution process
Monitor/Master
Other requirements regarding hiring, promotion, retention
Reporting
Training
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Assault/abuse by residents/inmates/students
Assault/abuse by staff
Conditions of confinement
Disciplinary procedures
Disciplinary segregation
Excessive force
Failure to discipline
Failure to supervise
Failure to train
Grievance Procedures
Incident/accident reporting & investigations
Restraints : chemical
Solitary confinement/Supermax (conditions or process)
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Medical/Mental Health
Mental health care, unspecified
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff
Special Case Type
Out-of-court
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1981
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), 42 U.S.C. § 1997 et seq.
Defendant(s) New York City Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description All present and future inmates confined in jails operated by the New York City Department of Corrections, except for the Elmhurst and Bellevue Prison Wards.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Legal Services/Legal Aid
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status outcome Granted
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Filed 08/18/2011
Case Ongoing Yes
Case Listing JC-NY-0062 : CRIPA investigation of NYC Department of Correction Jails on Rikers Island (No Court)
JC-NY-0005 : case name not on file (court not recorded)
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Review of the Use of Monitors in Civil Settlement Agreements and Consent Decrees Involving State and Local Government Entities
U.S. Department of Justice
Date: 9/13/2021
By: Attorney General Merrick Garland and Assoc. AG Vanita Gupta (U.S. Department of Justice)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

  An Analysis of CRIPA Findings Letters Issued to Jails for Constitutional Violations by the Department of Justice
Date: Apr. 15, 2016
By: Jeff Mellow, Bryce E. Peterson & Mijin Kim (John Jay College of Criminal Justice Faculty)
Citation: Am. J. Crim. Just. (April 2016)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
S.D.N.Y.
09/02/2021
1:11-cv-05845-LTS-JCF
JC-NY-0055-9001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
S.D.N.Y.
08/18/2011
Complaint [ECF# 2]
JC-NY-0055-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D.N.Y.
05/24/2012
Amended Complaint [ECF# 15]
JC-NY-0055-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
S.D.N.Y.
08/30/2012
Second Amended Complaint [Jury Trial Demanded] [ECF# 34]
JC-NY-0055-0003.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D.N.Y.
01/07/2013
Stipulation and Order [Granting Class Certification] [ECF# 61]
JC-NY-0055-0004.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D.N.Y.
05/17/2013
Memorandum and Order [Scope of Discovery] [ECF# 88] (2013 WL 2149869)
JC-NY-0055-0005.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
not recorded
08/04/2014
RE: CRIPA Investigation of the New York City Department of Correction Jails on Rikers Island
JC-NY-0055-0011.pdf | Detail
Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
S.D.N.Y.
12/11/2014
United States' Proposed Complaint in Intervention [ECF# 178]
JC-NY-0055-0006.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D.N.Y.
12/11/2014
United States' Motion to Intervene Pursuant to the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Person Act 42 U.SC. § 1997 [With Supporting Brief Attached] [ECF# 179]
JC-NY-0055-0007.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D.N.Y.
06/22/2015
[Letter informing judge of settlement] [ECF# 203]
JC-NY-0055-0008.pdf | External Link | Detail
Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
S.D.N.Y.
07/01/2015
Consent Judgment [Proposed] [ECF# 209-1]
JC-NY-0055-0010.pdf | Detail
Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section
S.D.N.Y.
10/21/2015
Consent Judgment [Approved] [ECF# 249]
JC-NY-0055-0009.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D.N.Y.
05/31/2016
First Report of the Nunez Independent Monitor [ECF# 269]
JC-NY-0055-0025.pdf | Detail
S.D.N.Y.
10/31/2016
Second Report of the Nunez Independent Monitor [ECF# 291]
JC-NY-0055-0026.pdf | Detail
S.D.N.Y.
04/03/2017
Third Report of the Nunez Independent Monitor [ECF# 295]
JC-NY-0055-0027.pdf | Detail
S.D.N.Y.
10/10/2017
Fourth Report of the Nunez Independent Monitor [ECF# 305]
JC-NY-0055-0012.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D.N.Y.
03/05/2018
Special Report of the Nunez Independent Monitor [ECF# 309]
JC-NY-0055-0013.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D.N.Y.
04/18/2018
Fifth Report of the Nunez Independent Monitor [ECF# 311]
JC-NY-0055-0014.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D.N.Y.
10/17/2018
Sixth Report of the Nunez Independent Monitor [ECF# 317]
JC-NY-0055-0015.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D.N.Y.
04/18/2019
Seventh Report of the Nunez Independent Monitor [ECF# 327]
JC-NY-0055-0018.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D.N.Y.
10/28/2019
Eight Report of the Nunez Independent Monitor [ECF# 332]
JC-NY-0055-0017.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D.N.Y.
05/29/2020
Ninth Report of the Nunez Independent Monitor [ECF# 341]
JC-NY-0055-0019.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D.N.Y.
07/02/2020
Status Report [ECF# 343]
JC-NY-0055-0016.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D.N.Y.
10/23/2020
Tenth Report of the Nunez Independent Monitor [ECF# 360]
JC-NY-0055-0021.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D.N.Y.
12/08/2020
First Remedial Order Report of the Nunez Independent Monitor [ECF# 365]
JC-NY-0055-0022.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D.N.Y.
05/11/2021
Eleventh Report of the Nunez Independent Monitor [ECF# 368]
JC-NY-0055-0023.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D.N.Y.
06/03/2021
Second Remedial Order Report of the Nunez Independent Monitor [ECF# 373]
JC-NY-0055-0024.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D.N.Y.
08/24/2021
Monitor Report [ECF# 378]
JC-NY-0055-0020.pdf | Detail
Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
show all people docs
Judges Francis, James C. IV (S.D.N.Y.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-0004 | JC-NY-0055-0005 | JC-NY-0055-9001
Swain, Laura Taylor (S.D.N.Y.) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-0009 | JC-NY-0055-9001
Monitors/Masters Dedel, Kelly (Oregon) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-0014 | JC-NY-0055-0015 | JC-NY-0055-0017 | JC-NY-0055-0018 | JC-NY-0055-0019 | JC-NY-0055-0020 | JC-NY-0055-0021 | JC-NY-0055-0022 | JC-NY-0055-0023 | JC-NY-0055-0024 | JC-NY-0055-0025 | JC-NY-0055-0026 | JC-NY-0055-0027
Gonzalez, Dennis O. (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-0017 | JC-NY-0055-0018 | JC-NY-0055-0019 | JC-NY-0055-0020 | JC-NY-0055-0021 | JC-NY-0055-0022 | JC-NY-0055-0023 | JC-NY-0055-0024 | JC-NY-0055-0026 | JC-NY-0055-0027
Hurley, Patrick (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-0017 | JC-NY-0055-0018 | JC-NY-0055-0019 | JC-NY-0055-0020 | JC-NY-0055-0021 | JC-NY-0055-0022 | JC-NY-0055-0023 | JC-NY-0055-0024 | JC-NY-0055-0025 | JC-NY-0055-0026 | JC-NY-0055-0027
Lee, Simone R. (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-0017 | JC-NY-0055-0018 | JC-NY-0055-0019 | JC-NY-0055-0020 | JC-NY-0055-0021 | JC-NY-0055-0022 | JC-NY-0055-0023 | JC-NY-0055-0024 | JC-NY-0055-0027
Martin, Steve J. (Texas) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-0014 | JC-NY-0055-0015 | JC-NY-0055-0016 | JC-NY-0055-0017 | JC-NY-0055-0018 | JC-NY-0055-0019 | JC-NY-0055-0020 | JC-NY-0055-0021 | JC-NY-0055-0022 | JC-NY-0055-0023 | JC-NY-0055-0024 | JC-NY-0055-0025 | JC-NY-0055-0026 | JC-NY-0055-0027
Sparkman, Emmitt L. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-0014 | JC-NY-0055-0015 | JC-NY-0055-0017 | JC-NY-0055-0018 | JC-NY-0055-0019 | JC-NY-0055-0020 | JC-NY-0055-0021 | JC-NY-0055-0022 | JC-NY-0055-0023 | JC-NY-0055-0024 | JC-NY-0055-0025 | JC-NY-0055-0026 | JC-NY-0055-0027
Vanderveer, Christina Bucci (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-0017 | JC-NY-0055-0018 | JC-NY-0055-0019 | JC-NY-0055-0020 | JC-NY-0055-0021 | JC-NY-0055-0022 | JC-NY-0055-0023 | JC-NY-0055-0024 | JC-NY-0055-0025 | JC-NY-0055-0026 | JC-NY-0055-0027
Plaintiff's Lawyers Abady, Jonathan S. (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-0001 | JC-NY-0055-0003 | JC-NY-0055-0004 | JC-NY-0055-0010 | JC-NY-0055-9001
Bharara, Preetinder S. (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-0006 | JC-NY-0055-0007 | JC-NY-0055-0008 | JC-NY-0055-0011
Billingsley, David (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-9001
Bucci, Christina G (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-9001
Chasan, Jonathan S. (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-0001 | JC-NY-0055-0003 | JC-NY-0055-0004 | JC-NY-0055-0010 | JC-NY-0055-9001
Cleemann, Joseph G (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-0001 | JC-NY-0055-0003 | JC-NY-0055-0004 | JC-NY-0055-9001
Conniff, Christopher P (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-0001 | JC-NY-0055-0003 | JC-NY-0055-0004 | JC-NY-0055-9001
Coyle, Lisa Marie (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-9001
Daughtry, Emily E. (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-0006 | JC-NY-0055-0007 | JC-NY-0055-0008 | JC-NY-0055-0011 | JC-NY-0055-9001
Dyer, Susanna G (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-9001
Eshkenazi, Lara K. (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-9001
Friedberg, Anna Elizabeth (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-0014 | JC-NY-0055-0015 | JC-NY-0055-0016 | JC-NY-0055-0018 | JC-NY-0055-0019 | JC-NY-0055-0020 | JC-NY-0055-0021 | JC-NY-0055-0022 | JC-NY-0055-0023 | JC-NY-0055-0024 | JC-NY-0055-0025 | JC-NY-0055-0026 | JC-NY-0055-0027 | JC-NY-0055-9001
Greenberger, Debra L. (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-9001
Gupta, Vanita (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-0006 | JC-NY-0055-0007
Holder, Eric H. Jr. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-0006 | JC-NY-0055-0007
Horowitz, Hayley (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-9001
Hsu, Caroline Sandra (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-9001
Katznelson, Zachary (Kansas) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-9001
Kellogg, Paul Schuyler (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-9001
Powell, Jeffrey K. (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-0006 | JC-NY-0055-0007 | JC-NY-0055-0008 | JC-NY-0055-0010 | JC-NY-0055-0011 | JC-NY-0055-9001
Raad, Amanda (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-0001 | JC-NY-0055-0003 | JC-NY-0055-0004 | JC-NY-0055-9001
Rosenfeld, Katherine (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-0001 | JC-NY-0055-0003 | JC-NY-0055-0004 | JC-NY-0055-9001
Salzman, Zoe Antonia (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-9001
Samuels, Jocelyn (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-0011
Shapiro, Samuel (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-9001
Simpson, Kayla (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-9001
Sussman, William I (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-0001 | JC-NY-0055-0003 | JC-NY-0055-0004 | JC-NY-0055-0010 | JC-NY-0055-9001
Talla, Vasudha (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-0001 | JC-NY-0055-0003 | JC-NY-0055-0004 | JC-NY-0055-9001
Werlwas, Mary Lynne (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-0001 | JC-NY-0055-0003 | JC-NY-0055-0004 | JC-NY-0055-9001
Defendant's Lawyers Carter, Zachary W. (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-0010
Joyce, Kimberly (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-9001
Koutsoudakis, Andreas (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-9001
Kretz, Walter Aoysius Jr. (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-9001
Larkin, Arthur G. III (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-0004 | JC-NY-0055-9001
Nguyen, Diep (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-9001
Peltz, Alexander (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-9001
Savino, Kimberly (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-0004
Schatz, Julie Pearlman (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-9001
Signorelli, Richard (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-9001
Wien, Howard (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-9001
Other Lawyers Devasia, Cynthia (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0055-9001

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