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Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Disability Rights Florida v. Crews PC-FL-0021
Docket / Court 1:14-cv-23323 ( S.D. Fla. )
Additional Docket(s) 1:14-cv-24140-RNS  [ 14-24140 ]  Southern District of FL (U.S.)
State/Territory Florida
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Prison Conditions
Special Collection Post-PLRA Jail and Prison Private Settlement Agreements
Attorney Organization Legal Services/Legal Aid
NDRN/Protection & Advocacy Organizations
Case Summary
On September 9, 2014, Disability Rights Florida filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. This suit was brought against the Florida Department of Corrections (FDC) and Wexford Health Sources, an FDC contractor, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, 28 U.S.C. § 2201, ... read more >
On September 9, 2014, Disability Rights Florida filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. This suit was brought against the Florida Department of Corrections (FDC) and Wexford Health Sources, an FDC contractor, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, 28 U.S.C. § 2201, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness Act (PAIMI), and the Rehabilitation Act. The plaintiff, represented by private and in-house counsel as well as Florida Legal Services, asked the court for injunctive and declaratory relief. The plaintiff alleged that abuse and discrimination against inmates with mental illnesses as well as inadequate care for such inmates violated their Eighth Amendment rights. Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that officials at Dade Correctional Institution (Dade CI) subjected inmates with serious mental illness in their inpatient mental health units to physical beatings, verbal harassment, deprivation of food, and torture. The plaintiff claimed that FDC was on notice of these conditions and failed to investigate the allegations of abuse and adequately punish those responsible.

Disability Rights Florida, the plaintiff, is a federally-funded protection and advocacy system responsible for protecting the rights of individuals with mental illness in the state. In this lawsuit, the organization sought several forms of relief to protect prisoners with mental illnesses. First, the plaintiff requested that the court declare the defendants’ conduct unlawful and unconstitutional. Second, the plaintiff requested an injunction requiring FDC to cease all actions that violated the constitutional and statutory rights of mentally ill inmates at the Dade CI inpatient unit, to take immediate action to investigate and stop the ongoing abuse of such inmates, to train and supervise officers assigned to the unit, to develop a system of periodic independent oversight of the unit, and to take immediate steps to ensure timely investigations of abuse upon these inmates. Third, the plaintiff requested an injunction requiring Wexford to mandate that its employees report allegations of abuse and ensure that inmates with mental illness receive adequate care. Fourth and finally, the plaintiff requested an injunction requiring FDC to stop discriminating against inmates in the Dade CI inpatient unit on the basis of disability.

At around the same time, the estate and survivors of a mentally ill prisoner who died after being forced to shower in scalding water for hours sued FDC and several FDC guards and prison officials (Chapman v. Florida Department of Corrections, docket number 1:14-cv-24140-RNS). The representative alleged that the defendants violated the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and the Eighth Amendment, and sought damages. On November 14, 2014, the court issued an order consolidating Chapman with this case.

On April 10, 2015, Disability Rights Florida and the defendants submitted a private settlement agreement that Judge Robert N. Scola, Jr. approved on April 14, 2015. Among other things, the state agreed to:
  • Provide Crisis Intervention Training to all staff at Dade CI.
  • Provide specialized training for correctional officers who work directly with inmates with mental illnesses.
  • Upgrade its video monitoring system and begin a pilot program for an audio monitoring system.
  • Try to provide full staffing at Dade CI.
  • Create an additional Assistant Warden position at Dade CI and a Mental Health Ombudsman position at FDC's central office and Region III office. These officials will lead and supervise mental health care efforts.
  • Install televisions in the common areas of the inpatient units at Dade CI for both therapeutic and recreational activities.
  • Allow a team of psychiatrists and security experts to visit Dade CI to review records, observe therapeutic and non-therapeutic activities, evaluate safeguards against abuse and neglect at the facility, and make recommendations for any needed changes and improvements.
In addition, Wexford Health Sources agreed to implement all of these provisions as well as provide training, hire additional behavioral health staff, and conduct internal and external audits of its program. The parties agreed to monitor compliance with the agreement through May of 2017. The court was to retain jurisdiction over the matter for 6 months, and during that time, the plaintiff could seek to reopen the case and resume the litigation if the state’s implementation of the agreement was systematically deficient.

Meanwhile, on February 1, 2016, the plaintiff in Chapman moved to reopen the case, lift the stay on litigation entered with the settlement agreement, and start discovery because the settlement had no bearing on the issues addressed in its complaint. The court, finding that Chapman should have automatically reopened on March 16, 2015 when the last stay expired, reopened the matter and ordered the defendants to respond to the complaint by April 4, 2016.

On April 12, 2016, the defendant answered the plaintiff’s complaint, raising several affirmative defenses, including failure to state a cause of action, failure to state a claim, and that the FDC was entitled to sovereign immunity. On May 16, plaintiff filed an amended complaint. The FDC and Dade CI’s warden subsequently filed motions to dismiss on July 1, 2016. Meanwhile, discovery commenced.

On October 28, 2016, the court granted the FDC’s motion to dismiss while denying that of Dade CI’s warden. As to the warden, the court found that the plaintiffs had stated a plausible claim of supervisory liability based on the warden’s alleged knowledge of widespread abuse of mentally ill inmates at Dade CI. As to the FDC, the court dismissed the ADA and Rehabilitation Act claims brought on behalf of the decedent’s surviving family members for lack of standing, but upheld the same claims as brought by his estate.

Discovery continued and, after fruitless mediation, a trial was scheduled for March 2018.

Meanwhile, Disability Rights Florida identified deficiencies in the defendants’ compliance with the settlement agreement. On May 19, 2017, it and FDC moved to extend the deadline by six months so that FDC could implement reforms, including hiring a different mental healthcare provider. At the end of the six-month extension, both parties asked the court to dismiss that portion of the consolidated case with prejudice. The court did so on November 8, 2017, but clarified that the dismissal did not affect the ongoing litigation between the estate and the FDC defendants. The court also retained jurisdiction to resolve any disputes over attorneys’ fees that might emerge. There is no evidence in the docket that any attorneys’ fees disputes with respect to the Disability Rights Florida litigation reached the court.

However, on January 17, 2018, the remaining parties notified the court that they had settled the case privately and in full. The court ordered the case administratively closed that day. While the Clearinghouse is not aware of the terms of the new settlement agreement, subsequent litigation revealed that it included $4.5 million in monetary damages.

On May 24, 2018, the court entered an order requiring the plaintiffs to file a stipulation of dismissal by July 23, 2018. However, one of the plaintiffs’ lawyers tried to put a charging lien on the pool of settlement funds, and the estate of one of the decedent’s relatives attempted to intervene to claim some of the proceeds. The court declined to address these new disputes, and after the lawyer voluntarily withdrew an Eleventh Circuit appeal on the lien issue, the court approved the settlement on October 26, 2018.

On November 21, 2018, the parties filed a joint stipulation of dismissal of the action. The same day, the court ordered the dismissal of the case and stated that the court reserves jurisdiction to enforce the parties’ settlement agreement. The case is now closed.

Spencer Klein - 02/08/2015
Lauren Latterell Powell - 03/18/2018
Jake Parker - 07/05/2018

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Content of Injunction
Other requirements regarding hiring, promotion, retention
Mental impairment
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
Assault/abuse by staff
Bathing and hygiene
Classification / placement
Conditions of confinement
Failure to discipline
Failure to supervise
Failure to train
Food service / nutrition / hydration
Incident/accident reporting & investigations
Pattern or Practice
Restraints : physical
Sanitation / living conditions
Solitary confinement/Supermax (conditions or process)
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Mental health care, general
Suicide prevention
Mental Disability
Mental Illness, Unspecified
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness (PAIMI) Act, 42 U.S.C. § 10801
Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701
Defendant(s) Florida Department of Corrections
Wexford Health Sources, Inc.
Plaintiff Description Disability Rights Florida, an organization empowered by federal law to file suit to protect the rights of individuals with mental illness who are in the custody of the state; also, the estate of an individual who died in state custody.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Legal Services/Legal Aid
NDRN/Protection & Advocacy Organizations
Class action status sought No
Class action status outcome Not sought
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 Private Settlement Agreement
Order Duration 2015 - 2017
Filed 09/09/2014
Case Closing Year 2018
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  See this case at (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Disability Advocates Resolve Litigation with Florida Department of Corrections
Disability Rights Florida
Date: May 28, 2015
By: Disability Rights Florida
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
S.D. Fla.
PC-FL-0021-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
S.D. Fla.
Complaint For Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 1]
PC-FL-0021-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Fla.
Amended Complaint and Jury Demand [ECF# 34]
PC-FL-0021-0005.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Fla.
Last Amended Complaint [ECF# 46]
PC-FL-0021-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Fla.
Joint Motion for Administrative Closure of Case [ECF# 59]
PC-FL-0021-0003.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Fla.
Private Settlement Agreement [ECF# 59-1]
PC-FL-0021-0010.pdf | Detail
S.D. Fla.
Order Administratively Closing Case Upon Notice of Settlement [ECF# 61]
PC-FL-0021-0004.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Fla.
Omnibus Order on Motions to Dismiss [ECF# 145]
PC-FL-0021-0006.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Fla.
Joint Motion for Extension of Courts' Jurisdiction and Administrative Closure [ECF# 191]
PC-FL-0021-0014.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Fla.
Joint Motion to Dismiss and Retain Jurisdiction for Limited Purpose of Attorneys' Fees and Expenses [ECF# 231]
PC-FL-0021-0015.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Fla.
Mediation Report [ECF# 241]
PC-FL-0021-0008.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Fla.
Plaintiff Andre Chapman's Motion for Entry of Order Authorizing Release of Settlement Proceeds to Sutton Law Group, P.A. Trust Account [ECF# 334]
PC-FL-0021-0011.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Fla.
Omnibus Order [ECF# 335]
PC-FL-0021-0013.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Otazo-Reyes, Alicia M. Court not on record [Magistrate] show/hide docs
Scola, Robert Nichols Jr. (S.D. Fla.) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0021-0004 | PC-FL-0021-0006 | PC-FL-0021-0013 | PC-FL-0021-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Boyer, David Allen (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0021-0001 | PC-FL-0021-0002 | PC-FL-0021-0003 | PC-FL-0021-0005 | PC-FL-0021-9000
Lentz, Kristen Cooley (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0021-0002 | PC-FL-0021-0005 | PC-FL-0021-0014 | PC-FL-0021-0015 | PC-FL-0021-9000
Paris, Molly Jean (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0021-0001 | PC-FL-0021-0002 | PC-FL-0021-0003 | PC-FL-0021-0005 | PC-FL-0021-9000
Schulz, George E. Jr. (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0021-0001 | PC-FL-0021-0002 | PC-FL-0021-0003 | PC-FL-0021-9000
Sleasman, Peter P. (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0021-0001 | PC-FL-0021-0002 | PC-FL-0021-0003 | PC-FL-0021-0005 | PC-FL-0021-0014 | PC-FL-0021-0015 | PC-FL-0021-9000
Soren, Max Gabriel (Florida) show/hide docs
Wintter, Christopher Quinn (Florida) show/hide docs
Defendant's Lawyers Bondi, Pamela Jo (Florida) show/hide docs
Desai, Devang B (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0021-0003 | PC-FL-0021-0014 | PC-FL-0021-0015 | PC-FL-0021-9000
Maher, Susan Adams (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0021-0003 | PC-FL-0021-9000
Marrero, Oscar Edmund (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0021-9000 | PC-FL-0021-9000
Marsh, J. Lee (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0021-0014 | PC-FL-0021-0015 | PC-FL-0021-9000
Neff, Lance Eric (Florida) show/hide docs
Sheeran, Andrew T (Florida) show/hide docs
Stinson, Monica Galindo (Florida) show/hide docs
Tietig, Lisa Kuhlman (Florida) show/hide docs
Toomey, Gregg Alan (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0021-9000 | PC-FL-0021-9000
Weissenborn, Sheridan K. (Florida) show/hide docs
Wydler, Lourdes Espino (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0021-9000 | PC-FL-0021-9000
Other Lawyers Commons, Linda Bellomio (Florida) show/hide docs
Grimes, Milton C. (California) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0021-0011 | PC-FL-0021-9000
Hoffman, Paul L. (California) show/hide docs
Jackson, Iverson Matthew (California) show/hide docs
Newman, Annette (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0021-0011 | PC-FL-0021-9000
Price, Max Richard (Florida) show/hide docs
Sarmiento, Vicki I. (California) show/hide docs
Sutton, John R (Florida) show/hide docs
Sweetser, Catherine Elizabeth (California) show/hide docs

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