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Case Name Washington v. City of New York JC-NY-0073
Docket / Court 1:18-cv-12306 ( S.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Special Collection Post-WalMart decisions on class certification
Solitary confinement
Strip Search Cases
Case Summary
On December 28, 2018, four pre-trial detainees filed this putative class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The plaintiffs sued the New York City Department of Corrections (DOC), the Albany County Correctional Facility, and the Albany County Sheriff's ... read more >
On December 28, 2018, four pre-trial detainees filed this putative class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The plaintiffs sued the New York City Department of Corrections (DOC), the Albany County Correctional Facility, and the Albany County Sheriff's Office under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, sought declaratory and injunctive relief, damages, and attorney's fees. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants violated their First Amendment, Fourth Amendment, Fourteenth Amendment rights and committed assault and battery during their transfer from Rikers Island to the Albany County Correctional Facility.

In separate instances, all four plaintiffs were detained at Rikers Island when they were transferred to the Albany County Correctional Facility. The correctional officers did not provide the plaintiffs with a reason for their transfer or notify their families or attorneys. The plaintiffs shared similar experiences upon arrival at the Albany County Correctional Facility. Plaintiffs alleged that the correctional officers at the facility severely beat and sexually assaulted them while they were being processed for intake. While shackled and handcuffed, several officers kicked and stomped on the plaintiffs until they were unconscious. After, the plaintiffs were forced to remove their clothing and follow a series of detailed instructions. If they did not properly comply, the defendants would assault them. The defendants accused all plaintiffs of carrying contraband in their rectums and an officer would then proceed to digitally assault them. In some instances, the plaintiffs were continually tasered and beaten after their strip searches. The plaintiffs claimed that the Albany County Correctional Facility reported each assault as a disciplinary infraction and accused each plaintiff of attacking staff members inside the booking cell. Afraid of retaliation, the plaintiffs did not testify during their disciplinary hearings and were sentenced to nine to ten months in punitive segregation.

On January 28, 2019, plaintiffs' counsel filed a motion for preliminary injunction on behalf of one detainee who remained in the custody of the Albany County Correctional Facility. They requested: (1) for the court to transfer the plaintiff to a correctional facility in New York City operated by DOC while the case was pending and until his release; (2) in the alternative, to remove him from punitive segregation at the Albany County Correctional Facility; or (3) temporarily release him from punitive segregation, provide a new disciplinary hearing that has minimum due process standards, and give him access to unmonitored legal telephone calls with counsel throughout the pendency of the lawsuit. The next day, the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint that provided class allegations and requested class certification.

The New York City Department of Corrections moved to dismiss and sought to join the State Commission of Corrections (SCOC) as a defendant. The City defendants argued that the lawsuit should be dismissed on grounds that: (1) the plaintiffs failed to exhaust in accordance with the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA); (2) liability for any constitutional violations regarding transfers to Albany should be directed to the SCOC, thus, the case should be dismissed for failing to join a necessary party; (3) the plaintiff’s claim for permanent injunctive relief should be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction; and (4) the plaintiffs failed to state a claim on all twenty-two causes of action that implicated the City defendants. Shortly thereafter, the Albany County Sheriff’s Office defendants and a defendant who worked as a nurse in the Albany County Correctional Facility both filed motions to sever and transfer the claims directed against them from the claims against the City defendants to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York.

On March 28, 2019, the plaintiffs filed a motion to certify a class that consisted of all pretrial detainees who were or would be detained at the Albany County Correctional Facility pursuant to substitute jail orders obtained by the City of New York. On April 4, 2019, Chief Judge Colleen McMahon explained that she would not be considering the issue of class certification any time soon, given the other motions. In Judge McMahon's decision and order on April 30, 2019, she denied the plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction, the City defendant's motion to dismiss, and the Albany County defendants' motion to sever and order to transfer. 2019 WL 212052.

On June 6, 2019, the plaintiffs filed a second amended complaint that addressed pending custody status of several plaintiffs who no longer were in custody at the Albany County Correctional Facility. On June 12, 2019, Judge McMahon issued an order that granted the Albany County defendants' request for a stay until August 31, 2019, for one of the correctional officers on military leave.

On June 27, 2019 the case was referred to Magistrate Judge Stewart D. Aaron for settlement talks. The Corrections Officers Benevolent Association formally requested to participate on July 5, 2019. Its request was denied on July 9, 2019: it was not party to the case, and none of the parties consented to its participation.

On July 16, 2019, a settlement conference was held. Settlement talks then continued, and the case was stayed. On October 18, the parties reached a settlement agreement.

The City of New York agreed to pay three individual plaintiffs $75,000, plus their pro rata shares of attorneys' fees. The County of Albany did the same, in addition to paying a fourth plaintiff $220,000. The plaintiffs obtained a total of $310,000 in attorneys' fees. The settlement also specified that the City of New York would not seek substitute jail orders to transfer anyone in the NYC DOC to the Albany County Correctional Facility from the date of the agreement to December 31, 2021.

Persons being transferred outside of the City of New York upon a substitute jail order would be given a notice stating:
“a. Where the inmate is being transferred: b. That the transfer is pursuant to a substitute jail order; c. The reason for the transfer; d. That the inmate will be brought back to New York City for court dates; e. That the inmate will be subject to the rules and regulations of the new jail, including rules about visiting; f. That the new jail is governed by New York State’s Minimum Standards for Management of County Jails; g. That the inmate has the right to make phone calls to the inmate’s lawyer; and h. That if the inmate wants to talk to his lawyer to let them know where they are being moved the inmate, he/she should ask the staff at the new jail.”
Additionally, from January 1, 2022 – December 31, 2023, any persons New York City DOC housed in Albany County Correctional Facility would be subject to the limits on punitive segregation contained in 40 R.C.N.Y §§ 1-17(a-g), including age restrictions and enhanced due process protections like the ability to call witnesses at infraction hearings.

The case was dismissed with prejudice on October 21, 2019 pursuant to the terms of the settlement agreement, but the court retained jurisdiction to enforce the agreement.

Kimberly Goshey - 06/12/2019
Samuel Poortenga - 03/08/2021


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Equal Protection
Freedom of speech/association
Unreasonable search and seizure
Content of Injunction
Implement complaint/dispute resolution process
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Assault/abuse by staff
Classification / placement
Conditions of confinement
Disciplinary procedures
Disciplinary segregation
Excessive force
Grievance Procedures
Over/Unlawful Detention
Personal injury
Sanitation / living conditions
Sex w/ staff; sexual harassment by staff
Solitary confinement/Supermax (conditions or process)
Torture
Totality of conditions
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) City of New York
County of Albany
Plaintiff Description Four pre-trial detainees previously or currently in custody of Albany County Jail.
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status outcome Denied
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2019 - 2023
Filed 12/28/2018
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)
  Jail Strip-Search Cases: Patterns and Participants
http://law.duke.edu/journals/lcp
Date: Spring 2008
By: Margo Schlanger (Washington University in St. Louis Faculty)
Citation: 71 Law & Contemp. Problems 65 (2008)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
S.D.N.Y.
10/21/2019
1:18-cv-12306-CM
JC-NY-0073-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
S.D.N.Y.
12/28/2018
Complaint with Jury Demand [ECF# 1]
JC-NY-0073-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D.N.Y.
04/30/2019
Decision and Order on the City Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, The Albany Defendants' Motion to Sever, and Plaintiff Espinal's Motion for A Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 94] (2019 WL 2120524)
JC-NY-0073-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D.N.Y.
06/06/2019
Second Amended Class Action with Jury Demand [ECF# 112]
JC-NY-0073-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D.N.Y.
10/18/2019
Letter to Judge McMahon re Settlement Agreement [ECF# 166]
JC-NY-0073-0004.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Aaron, Stewart D Court not on record [Magistrate] show/hide docs
JC-NY-0073-9000
McMahon, Colleen (S.D.N.Y.) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0073-0003 | JC-NY-0073-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Goldman, Steven H. (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0073-0001 | JC-NY-0073-0002 | JC-NY-0073-9000
Lieb, Douglas E. (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0073-0001 | JC-NY-0073-0002 | JC-NY-0073-0004 | JC-NY-0073-9000
Rosenfeld, Katherine (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0073-0001 | JC-NY-0073-0002 | JC-NY-0073-0004 | JC-NY-0073-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Brennan, Timothy S (Illinois) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0073-0004 | JC-NY-0073-9000
Breslow, Stephanie Marie (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0073-9000
Goldstein, Michael (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0073-0004 | JC-NY-0073-9000
Liguori, John William (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0073-0004 | JC-NY-0073-9000
Phelan, Robin Bartlett (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0073-9000
Tripp, Timothy Patrick (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0073-9000
Weall, Katherine Jane (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0073-9000
Zuckerman, Mark (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0073-0004 | JC-NY-0073-9000
Other Lawyers Wien, Howard (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0073-9000

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