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Case Name Harvard v. Inch PC-FL-0032
Docket / Court 4:19-cv-00212-MW-CAS ( N.D. Fla. )
State/Territory Florida
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Prison Conditions
Special Collection Solitary confinement
Attorney Organization Florida Justice Institute
Legal Services/Legal Aid
Southern Poverty Law Center
Case Summary
Six prisoners with mental or physical disorders from the Florida Department of Corrections (FDC) filed a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida on May 8, 2019. They sued the Secretary of the FDC and the agency itself. Plaintiffs alleged that the FDC had ... read more >
Six prisoners with mental or physical disorders from the Florida Department of Corrections (FDC) filed a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida on May 8, 2019. They sued the Secretary of the FDC and the agency itself. Plaintiffs alleged that the FDC had frequently, unnecessarily, and harmfully used solitary confinement against prisoners with physical and mental disabilities. They also alleged that the defendants were aware of the heightened risk that solitary confinement places on disabled individuals. Plaintiffs sought to represent a class of all in FDC custody who had been “locked in their cells, alone or with a cellmate, for an average of 22 hours or more per day[.]” Plaintiffs were represented by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Florida Legal Services, and the Florida Justice Institute.

In their complaint, the plaintiffs alleged violations of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, 42 U.S.C. § 12101 (Americans with Disabilities Act), and Section 504 of 29 U.S.C. § 701 (Rehabilitation Act), the Eighth Amendment, and the Fourteenth Amendment. Remedies sought included injunctive relief, declaratory relief, and attorney’s fees. The plaintiffs sought to enjoin the defendants from continuing the allegedly unlawful practices and to provide equal access to programs and services for people with disabilities in prison.

On July 2, 2019, plaintiffs filed an amended class action complaint adding a seventh plaintiff. The case was assigned to Chief Judge Mark E. Walker.

Defendants moved to dismiss on August 6, 2019. They argued plaintiffs had not exhausted their administrative remedies, failed to demonstrate standing, and failed to show they were entitled to relief. The court denied the motion on October 24, 2019. 411 F.Supp.3d 1220.

Plaintiffs filed two motions on December 20, 2019. The first motion, filed by all plaintiffs, sought to place limits on depositions. This included blocking the presence of FDC staff, denying use of “black box” restraints, and preventing of restraints for deponents in the general population. The second motion was filed by a single plaintiff (hereafter: Hill) to prevent retaliation from FDC staff. This would include prohibiting contact between Hill and one specific officer as well as transferring Hill to a different facility. Hill also alleged that he had already faced retaliation from FDC staff.

The court granted in part the plaintiffs’ motion for a protective order regarding deposition conditions on January 7, 2020. First, the court allowed FDC staff to be present during depositions. However, their presence was allowed only if they did not have day-to-day involvement with any plaintiffs, were not subject to plaintiffs’ claims, and had no actual knowledge of the allegations of this suit. Second, the court allowed restraints to be used at their Warden’s judgment. Third, the court barred the use of “black box” restraints due to their highly restrictive nature and available alternatives. However, defendants could petition the court for their use, if necessary. 2020 WL 5650080.

Defendants moved for a protective order on January 13, 2020. They requested that various information be accessible only by Plaintiffs’ counsel. This included technical manuals, video surveillance footage, and the facilities’ security policies. They cited both security needs and federal court’s general deference to officials in prison management. The court denied the motion on January 22, 2020. The court cited a refusal to assume bad faith from plaintiffs’ and defendants’ failure to plead specific facts. 2020 WL 5649635.

The court granted in part plaintiff Hill’s motion for a protective order on January 28, 2020. The court stated that anyone retaliating against Hill would be held in contempt of court. The court also noted Hill’s “serious allegations of retaliation” by FDC officials. However, the court felt this limited injunction was sufficient and thus did not grant the other relief that Hill sought.

Defendants filed a notice that they had appealed to the Eleventh Circuit regarding the denial of their protective order on February 21, 2020. The court denied defendants’ request to stay proceedings pending the appeal on March 2, 2020. 2020 WL 5649634. On March 30, 2020, the Eleventh Circuit granted the defendants’ writ of mandamus. 2020 WL 1933170. The Eleventh Circuit determined that the seriousness of the security risk warranted issuing the writ. As such, the district court’s denial of defendants’ motion for a protective order was vacated.

On April 3, 2020, this case was reassigned to Magistrate Judge Martin Fitzpatrick for all further proceedings.

Plaintiffs filed a new motion for protective order on November 23, 2020. They contended that the defendants were interfering with the adjudication of the case by threatening incarcerated individuals who worked with plaintiffs' counsel and retaliating against people who provided information. The issue was referred to Magistrate Judge Martin Fitzpatrick, who granted the motion and ordered the defendants to refrain from retaliatory conduct. However, Judge Mark Walker vacated the Magistrate Judge's order because it was too vague and did not provide clear instructions as to what conduct was unlawful. Judge Walker did note, however, that the plaintiffs could move for sanctions against the defendants if they interfered with the adjudication process.

Plaintiffs filed a second amended class action complaint on March 30, 2021. Notably, this complaint added additional sub-classes. Earlier complaints had one broad class for all FDC prisoners locked in restrictive housing. This amended complaint added three subclasses for those placed in restrict housing: first, a youth subclass for all under 21 years old; second, prisoners with a serious mental illness; finally, prisoners with a federally recognized physical disabilities.

Plaintiffs moved for class certification on May 28, 2021. This included the main plaintiff class which included people who were in FDC custody in restrictive housing. They also pursued the three subclasses introduced in the second amended complaint: youth, serious mental illness, and physical disability.

This case is ongoing.

Ashton Dubey - 11/14/2019
Eric Gripp - 07/21/2021


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Defendant-type
Corrections
Disability
disability, unspecified
Mental impairment
Mobility impairment
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Administrative segregation
Conditions of confinement
Solitary confinement/Supermax (conditions or process)
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701
Defendant(s) Florida Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description Seven prisoners of the Florida Department of Corrections with mental and/or physical disorders.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Florida Justice Institute
Legal Services/Legal Aid
Southern Poverty Law Center
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status outcome Pending
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filed 05/08/2019
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Harvard v. Inch
Southern Poverty Law Center
Date: May 8, 2019
By: Southern Poverty Law Center
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
N.D. Fla.
07/27/2021
4:19-cv-212
PC-FL-0032-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
N.D. Fla.
05/08/2019
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PC-FL-0032-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Fla.
07/02/2019
First Amended Class Action Complaint [ECF# 13]
PC-FL-0032-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Fla.
10/24/2019
Order Denying Defendants' Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 54] (411 F.Supp.3d 1220)
PC-FL-0032-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Fla.
01/07/2020
Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part Plaintiffs' Motion for a Protective Order Regarding Deposition Conditions [ECF# 82] (2020 WL 5650080)
PC-FL-0032-0007.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: Westlaw
N.D. Fla.
01/22/2020
Order Denying Defendants' Motion for Entry of a Protective Order [ECF# 94] (2020 WL 5649635)
PC-FL-0032-0008.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: Westlaw
N.D. Fla.
03/02/2020
Order Denying Stay of Discovery [ECF# 111] (2020 WL 5649634)
PC-FL-0032-0009.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: Westlaw
U.S. Court of Appeals
03/30/2020
Opinion (2020 WL 1933170)
PC-FL-0032-0005.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Fla.
03/30/2021
Second Amended Class Action Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 274]
PC-FL-0032-0006.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Fla.
05/28/2021
Declarations of Jac'quann (Admire) Harvard, Johnny Hill, Amy Ferguson, James Kendrick, and Juan Espinosa; Exhibit A: Putative Class Member Declarations [ECF# 311]
PC-FL-0032-0004.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Branch, Elizabeth Lee (Eleventh Circuit) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0032-0005
Jordan, Adalberto Jose (S.D. Fla., Eleventh Circuit) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0032-0005
Luck, Robert Joshua (Eleventh Circuit) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0032-0005
Walker, Mark Eaton (N.D. Fla.) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0032-0003 | PC-FL-0032-0007 | PC-FL-0032-0008 | PC-FL-0032-0009 | PC-FL-0032-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Agarwal, Shalini Goel (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0032-0001 | PC-FL-0032-0002 | PC-FL-0032-9000
Alvarez, Alexis Nicole (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0032-9000
Costello, Andrea Hope (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0032-0001 | PC-FL-0032-0002 | PC-FL-0032-0006 | PC-FL-0032-9000
Dolan, Krista Ann (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0032-9000
Ferro, Laura Anne (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0032-0002 | PC-FL-0032-0006 | PC-FL-0032-9000
Graybill, Lisa S. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0032-0001 | PC-FL-0032-0002 | PC-FL-0032-9000
Jaszczolt, Marta Venessa (Alabama) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0032-9000
Jones, Christopher Michael (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0032-0001 | PC-FL-0032-0002 | PC-FL-0032-9000
Klonel, Rebecca Renee (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0032-9000
Knapp, Kelly Jean (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0032-0001 | PC-FL-0032-0002 | PC-FL-0032-0006 | PC-FL-0032-9000
Laurenceau, Leonard J. (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0032-0006 | PC-FL-0032-9000
Lilavois, Marcel Andrew Jr. (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0032-0006 | PC-FL-0032-9000
Lim, Aimee Cristen (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0032-0006 | PC-FL-0032-9000
Malkowski Ortiz, Rachel (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0032-9000
Painter, Jennifer Morrissey (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0032-0001 | PC-FL-0032-0002 | PC-FL-0032-0006 | PC-FL-0032-9000
Rifkin, Lori Ellen (California) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0032-0006 | PC-FL-0032-9000
Saleh, Sumayya (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0032-0001 | PC-FL-0032-0002 | PC-FL-0032-9000
Thypin-Bermeo, Sam N. (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0032-0006 | PC-FL-0032-9000
Trevisani, Dante Pasquale (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0032-0001 | PC-FL-0032-0002 | PC-FL-0032-0006 | PC-FL-0032-9000
Wallis, Kara (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0032-0006 | PC-FL-0032-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Duke, Samantha Crawford (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0032-9000
Gerber, Daniel Jay (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0032-9000
Grosholz, Jeffrey James (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0032-9000
Lerner, Joshua D (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0032-9000
Smith, Nicole Sieb (Florida) show/hide docs
PC-FL-0032-9000

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