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Case Name Disability Rights Montana v. Batista PC-MT-0010
Docket / Court 2:15-cv-00022 ( D. Mont. )
State/Territory Montana
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Prison Conditions
Case Summary
This case arose out of litigation in a similar case, Disability Rights Montana v. Opper. For more information, see Opper's Clearinghouse page here.

On May 15, 2015, Disability Rights Montana filed a lawsuit against ... read more >
This case arose out of litigation in a similar case, Disability Rights Montana v. Opper. For more information, see Opper's Clearinghouse page here.

On May 15, 2015, Disability Rights Montana filed a lawsuit against the Director and Warden of the Montana Department of Corrections in their official capacities. Both of these defendants had been named as defendants in the original complaint filed in Disability Rights Montana v. Opper.

In the amended complaint, the plaintiffs alleged that the defendants had violated the Eighth Amendment's protections against cruel and unusual punishment through their treatment of prisoners with serious mental illnesses. The plaintiffs argued that the defendants violated their rights by placing prisoners in solitary confinement between 22 and 24 hours per day for months and even years at a time, failing to use standards to diagnose prisoners with mental illnesses, refusing to provide prisoners with psychiatric medications, using no system to classify prisoners according to their mental illness diagnoses, and having no system to evaluate the efficacy of its program for prisoners' mental health.

The plaintiffs sought declaratory relief as well as injunctive relief. Plaintiffs sought to require defendants to take immediate steps to ensure that prisoners with serious mental illnesses were provided with constitutionally adequate care and enjoin the defendants from placing prisoners with serious mental illnesses in solitary confinement.

The new case was again before Judge Haddon in the District Court for the District of Montana. The defendants moved to dismiss for failure to state a claim and the court granted that motion on September 3, 2015. This was the same day that the court rejected the DPHHS and State Hospital's motion to dismiss in the first case discussed above. This was also a summary order.

The plaintiff appealed that dismissal to the Ninth Circuit. While it's not entirely clear what the dismissal was based on, the plaintiff's brief to the Ninth Circuit claimed that the dismissals were mixed up and that the Judge refused to correct that. The plaintiffs argued that the court intended to dismiss the due process claims against the Montana DPHHS and Montana State Hospital and that the court did not intend to dismiss the Eighth Amendment claims against the DOC and Montana State Prison.

It's not entirely clear from the record what the grounds of the dismissal were, but as discussed below, the parties litigated the issue as if the District Court had dismissed on the grounds that the pleadings did not meet the (12)(b)(6) pleading standard required.

The appeal was docketed in the Ninth Circuit on October 1, 2015. Following that, the plaintiff and the defendant Montana DOC and Montana State Prison engaged in protracted settlement discussion through at least February 27, 2018. Oral argument was held on March 7, 2019. The plaintiff asked the Ninth Circuit to reverse the dismissal of the claim against the DOC and the State Prison, and to assign the case to a different judge on remand.

On July 19, 2019, the Ninth Circuit reversed the district court’s dismissal of the complaint, remanded it for further proceedings, and reassigned the case to the Judge Donald W. Molloy. 930 F.3d 1090. In an opinion by Judge Gould, the court held that the plaintiffs' complaint met the pleading requirements by describing specific facts sufficient to support a plausible claim for relief. The court noted that the allegations, if true, described a "distressing pattern of placing mentally ill prisoners in solitary confinement for 'weeks and months at a time' without sufficient mental health care..."

The case is ongoing back in the district court as of October 2019.

Gabrielle Simeck - 02/27/2021

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Mental impairment
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
Administrative segregation
Conditions of confinement
Disciplinary procedures
Disciplinary segregation
Reasonable Accommodations
Reasonable Modifications
Solitary confinement/Supermax (conditions or process)
Suicide prevention
Medical/Mental Health
Mental health care, general
Mental health care, unspecified
Suicide prevention
Mental Disability
Mental Illness, Unspecified
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Type of Facility
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Director of the Montana Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description Disability Rights Montana, Inc., a nonprofit advocacy agency acting on behalf of prisoners with serious mental illness in the Montana State Prison.
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 05/15/2015
Case Ongoing Yes
Case Listing PC-MT-0008 : Disability Rights Montana v. Opper (D. Mont.)
Additional Resources
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Court Docket(s)
U.S. Court of Appeals
PC-MT-0010-9001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Mont.
PC-MT-0010-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
D. Mont.
Second Amended Complaint Against Defendants Mike Batista and Leroy Kirkegard [ECF# 66]
PC-MT-0010-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
U.S. Court of Appeals
Opinion [Ct. of App. ECF# 89] (930 F.3d 1090)
PC-MT-0010-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | External Link | Detail
Source: U.S. Court of Appeals website
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Judges Gould, Ronald Murray (Ninth Circuit) show/hide docs
Haddon, Sam E. (D. Mont.) show/hide docs
Jack, Janis Graham (S.D. Tex.) show/hide docs
Molloy, Donald W. (D. Mont.) show/hide docs
Paez, Richard A. (C.D. Cal., Ninth Circuit) show/hide docs
Plaintiff's Lawyers Conley, Anna (Montana) show/hide docs
PC-MT-0010-0002 | PC-MT-0010-9000
Ellingson, Jon (Montana) show/hide docs
PC-MT-0010-0002 | PC-MT-0010-9000
Gray, Kyle A. (Montana) show/hide docs
PC-MT-0010-0002 | PC-MT-0010-9000
Jones, Natasha Prinzing (Montana) show/hide docs
Lee, Matthew D. (Wisconsin) show/hide docs
Miller, Adrian Ann (Montana) show/hide docs
PC-MT-0010-0002 | PC-MT-0010-9000
Rate, Alexander H. (Montana) show/hide docs
Simmons, Jeffrey A. (Wisconsin) show/hide docs
PC-MT-0010-0002 | PC-MT-0010-9000
Taylor, James Park (Montana) show/hide docs
PC-MT-0010-0002 | PC-MT-0010-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Ambrose, Colleen E (Montana) show/hide docs
Crowley, William L. (Montana) show/hide docs
Leonard, Thomas J (Montana) show/hide docs
Rogers, Mary Cile Glover (Montana) show/hide docs

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