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Case Name Kelley v. Hodgson JC-MA-0004
Docket / Court 98-3083 ( State Court )
State/Territory Massachusetts
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Attorney Organization Prisoners' Legal Services of Massachusetts
Case Summary
In 1998, inmates in the Bristol County Jail filed a class action suit on behalf of all present and future inmates challenging the overcrowded conditions at the jail. The Superior Court of Massachusetts for Suffolk County (Judge John C. Cratsley) enjoined defendant from using port-a-bunks, which ... read more >
In 1998, inmates in the Bristol County Jail filed a class action suit on behalf of all present and future inmates challenging the overcrowded conditions at the jail. The Superior Court of Massachusetts for Suffolk County (Judge John C. Cratsley) enjoined defendant from using port-a-bunks, which allowed inmates to sleep on common areas floors, and from triple-bunking any cell. This preliminary injunction would last until November 16, 1998, when the new unit of the jail was scheduled for completion. In addition, the court enjoined defendant from confining more than one inmate per cell once the new unit opened. The court denied some of plaintiffs' requested injunctive relief with respect to housing of local arrestees, closing the prison due to fire code violations, inmate co-pay policy, and appointment of a Special Master to oversee the Sheriff. Kelley v. Hodgson, 1998 WL 1181663 (Mass. Super. 1998).

The plaintiffs moved on August 23, 2004, to amend the 1998 preliminary injunction, adding a claim that the defendant also engaged in "dry-celling" inmates, which deprived those inmates of access to toilets. On September 13, 2004, the court granted the motion and expanded the 1998 preliminary injunction to prohibit the defendant from "dry-celling."

On September 24, 2008, the court granted in part and denied in part a motion for summary judgment from the defendant. The summary judgment addressed the defendant's individual liability, but not his liability in his official capacity as the Sheriff of Bristol County.

The plaintiffs then moved for summary judgment as to the defendant's liability in his official capacity, specifically on the issues of "dry-celling" inmates, using port-a-bunks, and double- or triple-bunking inmates. On September 24, 2009, the court granted summary judgment for the port-a-bunks and for double- and triple-bunking. However, the court denied summary judgment for "dry-celling." The court also noted that the qualified immunity did not protect the defendant in his official capacity. The court did not award any damages.

The parties negotiated a settlement regarding relief and attorneys' fees, and the court approved the settlement on December 18, 2012. We do not have the settlement, so the details are unknown.

As of August 23, 2021, the plaintiffs' counsel is monitoring compliance, according to its website.

Lauren Cutson - 05/23/2005
Lauren Yu - 08/23/2021


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Bathing and hygiene
Conditions of confinement
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983
Defendant(s) Bristol County Jail and House of Correction
Sheriff of Bristol County
Plaintiff Description inmates of the Bristol County Jail
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Prisoners' Legal Services of Massachusetts
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 Litigation
Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1998 - n/a
Filed 1998
Case Ongoing Yes
Court Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
State Trial Court
10/02/1998
Memorandum of Decision and Order on Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction (1998 WL 1181663 / 1998 Mass.Super.LEXIS 553)
JC-MA-0004-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
State Trial Court
09/24/2009
Memorandum of Decision and Order on Plaintiffs' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment
JC-MA-0004-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: Prison Legal News
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Judges Cratsley, John C. (State Trial Court) show/hide docs
JC-MA-0004-0001 | JC-MA-0004-0002

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