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Case Name Clark v. California PC-CA-0005
Docket / Court 3:96-cv-01486-CRB ( N.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Prison Conditions
Special Collection California's Prisoners' Rights Bar article
Post-PLRA enforceable consent decrees
Attorney Organization Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF)
Prison Law Office
Case Summary

On April 22, 1996, two prisoners with developmental disabilities, incarcerated within facilities run by the California Department of Corrections (CDC), filed a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the Americans with ... read more >

On April 22, 1996, two prisoners with developmental disabilities, incarcerated within facilities run by the California Department of Corrections (CDC), filed a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Rehabilitation Act (RA), against the State of California, its Governor, CDC and prison officials. The plaintiffs, represented by the Prison Law Office, the Disability Rights and Education Defense Fund, and private counsel, asked the court for declaratory, injunctive, and monetary relief, alleging that the defendants violated their rights under the Equal Protection Clause, Americans with Disabilities Act, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Specifically, the plaintiffs claimed that the defendants discriminated against them because of their disabilities, that their living conditions constituted cruel and unusual punishment, and that the defendants had deprived them of due process. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants’ practice of confining prisoners with developmental disabilities in state prisons without offering sufficient protection from the general prison population was cruel and unusual punishment. Additionally, the plaintiffs alleged that the defendants failed to provide accommodations required to allow the plaintiffs the same benefits and program participation opportunities afforded to non-developmentally disabled prisoners.

On October 1, 1996, Judge Fern M. Smith denied the defendants' motions to dismiss the Rehabilitation Act, ADA, equal protection and Eighth Amendment claims and granted, in part, the defendants' motion to dismiss the due process claims, allowing the plaintiffs to amend their complaint with respect to the due process claim. The defendants appealed. Clark v. State, 1996 WL 628221 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 1, 1996).

On February 26, 1997, Judge Smith certified a class consisting of all present and future individuals with developmental disabilities under the control of the CDC. In January 1998, the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint adding additional plaintiffs. Extensive discovery followed.

On May 11, 1998, Judge Smith granted in part and denied in part the State defendants' motion for summary judgment. Judge Smith granted summary judgment on and dismissed the equal protection claims, and denied motions with respect to exhaustion of administrative and state remedies as well as for standing. Judge Smith also denied the defendants' motion to decertify the class. Clark v. State of Calif., 1998 WL 242688 (N.D. Cal. May 11, 1998).

Prior to the scheduled trial date, the parties engaged in negotiations under the supervision of Judge Eugene Lynch. The negotiations resulted in an interim agreement and stipulation that was filed on July 20, 1998. The interim agreement provided for, among other things, improved education, vocational programs, medical care, housing, and staff assistance for inmates with developmental disabilities. This plan was subject to negotiations between the parties and evaluation by court appointed experts.

On August 18, 1998, Judge Smith appointed Peter Leone, Ph.D., and Melissa G. Warren, Ph.D. to be the court's experts to evaluate the defendants' compliance with the agreement, and filed a settlement agreement, implementing the interim agreement subject to monitoring by the plaintiffs' counsel and evaluation by the court's experts.

On October 9, 1998, Judge Smith entered judgment in favor of the plaintiffs in the amount of $2.8 million for attorneys' fees for all work performed before the execution of the interim agreement and stipulation.

Between December 1999 and February 2002, other district court Judges Charles R. Breyer and Phyllis J. Hamilton approved various amendments to the settlement agreement. In March 2002, the CDC issued a comprehensive remedial plan which was adopted by the court. The remedial plan included detailed policies and procedures to assure identification, appropriate classification, housing, protection and nondiscrimination of prisoners/parolees with developmental disabilities.

On December 3, 2001, the parties signed a settlement agreement granting relief to the plaintiff class. The defendants admitted "that they [had] violated the federal rights of plaintiffs in a manner sufficient to warrant the relief contained herein." Implementation and modifications to the 2002 remedial plan continued through 2007.

In July 2009 the defendants filed a motion to terminate the settlement agreement, pursuant to the Prison Litigation Reform Act and Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 60(b). The defendants declared that they were no longer violating the federal rights of prisoners with developmental disabilities, and that continued relief was no longer necessary because of these violations. On August 13, 2009, the plaintiffs filed a motion to enforce judgment. There was no dispute as to the utility of the settlement agreement and the Clark Remedial Plan. What was in dispute, however, was whether the order requiring compliance with the plan, including monitoring by the plaintiffs' counsel and the court's experts, was necessary. Investigating this issue, one of the court's experts conducted a review of the treatment of developmentally disabled prisoners and found that developmentally disabled inmates did not receive the protections and supports as described in the Clark Remedial Plan.

On September 16, 2010, the District Court denied in part and granted in part the defendants' motion for relief. The court also granted in part and denied in part the plaintiffs' motion for further relief. The court found termination of the entire settlement agreement unwarranted because ongoing violations of federal constitutional and statutory rights supported the continuation of relief. However, not all of the provisions of the settlement agreement were sufficiently narrowly drawn to meet the standards of the Prison Litigation Report Act (PLRA), so these provisions were terminated. In addition to upholding the majority of the settlement agreement, the court issued further remedial orders including staff training, better identification of class members by the defendants, and self-monitoring by the Defendants on their progress. Clark v. California, 739 F. Supp. 2d 1168 (N.D. Cal. 2010). On December 29, 2010, the court granted the plaintiffs' attorneys an additional $2.3 million in fees.

On December 16, 2015, the court agreed to a revision of the Remedial Plan. The revision eliminated the need for a post-rules violation consultation between the Chief Disciplinary Officer and the Developmental Disability Program clinician. Instead, the parties agreed to adopt the rules violation process developed in the case Coleman v. Brown. This process called for standardized mental health assessments.

As of January 2020, the settlement agreement was still in place and monitoring was ongoing.

David Priddy - 07/17/2011
Jessica Kincaid - 07/15/2014
Hope Brinn - 11/03/2018
Emma Himes - 11/27/2019

compress summary

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Equal Protection
Content of Injunction
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Provide antidiscrimination training
Mental impairment
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
Administrative segregation
Assault/abuse by residents/inmates/students
Assault/abuse by staff
Classification / placement
Sanitation / living conditions
Sexual abuse by residents/inmates
Special education
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Totality of conditions
Medical/Mental Health
Intellectual disability/mental illness dual diagnosis
Intellectual/Developmental Disability
Medical care, general
Mental Disability
Intellectual/developmental disability, 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.
Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701
Defendant(s) California Department of Corrections
State of California
Plaintiff Description Developmentally disabled individuals incarcerated by the California Department of Corrections
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF)
Prison Law Office
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
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1998 - n/a
Filed 04/22/1996
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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Court Docket(s)
N.D. Cal.
PC-CA-0005-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
N.D. Cal.
Order Denying in Part, Granting in Part, Defendants' Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 26] (1996 WL 628221)
PC-CA-0005-0012.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: Westlaw
N.D. Cal.
Second Amended Class Action Complaint for Violations of the Rehabilitation Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and Under S1983 for Violations of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments [ECF# 67-1]
PC-CA-0005-0001.pdf | Detail
N.D. Cal.
Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment [ECF# 141] (1998 WL 242688)
PC-CA-0005-0011.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: Westlaw
N.D. Cal.
Interim Agreement and Stipulation; Order Appointing Experts and Prescribing Duties [ECF# 181]
PC-CA-0005-0002.pdf | Detail
N.D. Cal.
Settlement Agreement and Order [ECF# 194]
PC-CA-0005-0010.pdf | Detail
Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
N.D. Cal.
Remedial Plan
PC-CA-0005-0003.pdf | Detail
N.D. Cal.
On the Status of Inmates with Developmental Disabilities In the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation [ECF# 493-4] (2010 WL 4268116)
PC-CA-0005-0008.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: Westlaw
N.D. Cal.
July 2010 Report of Division of Adult Institution's Leone Report Review Team [ECF# 489-1] (2010 WL 4268115)
PC-CA-0005-0007.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: Westlaw
N.D. Cal.
Plaintiffs' Response to Defendants' Surreply [ECF# 493] (2010 WL 4229736)
PC-CA-0005-0006.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: Westlaw
N.D. Cal.
[Proposed] Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law [ECF# 497-1]
PC-CA-0005-0004.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Cal.
Order [ECF# 497]
PC-CA-0005-0005.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Cal.
Opinion [ECF# 500] (739 F.Supp.2d 1168)
PC-CA-0005-0009.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: Google Scholar
N.D. Cal.
Stipulation Regarding Attorney's Fees; Order [ECF# 510]
PC-CA-0005-0013.pdf | Detail
Source: Bloomberg Law
N.D. Cal.
Stipulation Regarding Plaintiffs' Counsel's Participation in Defendants' Strike Teams; Order [ECF# 513]
PC-CA-0005-0014.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Cal.
Stipulation Regarding Joint Interviews Conducted by the Parties as Part of the Joint Monitoring and/or Auditing Process; Order [ECF# 517]
PC-CA-0005-0015.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D. Cal.
Stipulation and Order Re: Revisions to Remedial Plan [ECF# 519]
PC-CA-0005-0016.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Breyer, Charles R. (N.D. Cal.) show/hide docs
PC-CA-0005-0004 | PC-CA-0005-0005 | PC-CA-0005-0009 | PC-CA-0005-0010 | PC-CA-0005-0014 | PC-CA-0005-0015 | PC-CA-0005-0016 | PC-CA-0005-9000
Smith, Fern M. (N.D. Cal.) show/hide docs
PC-CA-0005-0002 | PC-CA-0005-0011 | PC-CA-0005-0012
Vadas, Nandor J. (N.D. Cal.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
Plaintiff's Lawyers Chavez, Mark A. (California) show/hide docs
PC-CA-0005-0001 | PC-CA-0005-0002 | PC-CA-0005-9000
Godbold, Penny (California) show/hide docs
Hanson, Shawn A. (California) show/hide docs
PC-CA-0005-0001 | PC-CA-0005-0002 | PC-CA-0005-9000
Lipton, Diane (California) show/hide docs
MacKay, Heather (California) show/hide docs
PC-CA-0005-0001 | PC-CA-0005-0002 | PC-CA-0005-9000
Mayerson, Arlene Brynne (California) show/hide docs
Mitchell, Caroline N. (California) show/hide docs
PC-CA-0005-0001 | PC-CA-0005-0002 | PC-CA-0005-0006 | PC-CA-0005-9000
Norman, Sara Linda (California) show/hide docs
PC-CA-0005-0002 | PC-CA-0005-0014 | PC-CA-0005-0015 | PC-CA-0005-0016 | PC-CA-0005-9000
Roberts, Douglas (California) show/hide docs
Sak, Adam E. (California) show/hide docs
Schonfeld, Zoe (California) show/hide docs
Specter, Donald H. (California) show/hide docs
PC-CA-0005-0001 | PC-CA-0005-0002 | PC-CA-0005-0010 | PC-CA-0005-0013 | PC-CA-0005-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Alexander, Elizabeth R. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
Garske, Sharon Anne (California) show/hide docs
Jenkins, William (California) show/hide docs
Mather, Scott C. (California) show/hide docs
Mossler, Julianne (California) show/hide docs
O'Bannon, Danielle Felice (California) show/hide docs
PC-CA-0005-0015 | PC-CA-0005-0016 | PC-CA-0005-9000
Quinn, Michael James (California) show/hide docs
Rhoan, Erick Joseph (California) show/hide docs
Siggins, Peter J. (California) show/hide docs
Zelidon-Zepeda, Jose Alfonso (California) show/hide docs
PC-CA-0005-0013 | PC-CA-0005-0014 | PC-CA-0005-9000

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