Armstrong v. Brown

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Rights § 1983
  • Date Filed: 09-26-2014
  • Case #: 12-17103
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Tashima for the Court; Circuit Judges Reinhardt and Berzon
  • Full Text Opinion

A modified injunction altering the accountability system complies with the prison litigation reform act when the original injunction requires the state to specify steps to ensure that disabled inmates are provided with needed accommodations.

In 1994, a class of disabled state prisoners and parolees, plaintiffs in this matter, filed an action against the state of California seeking accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") and the Rehabilitation Act ("RA"). The court found the state in violation and ordered an injunction compelling the state to comply with its remedial plan in 2001. By 2007 the state had failed to comply with the remedial plan in the 2001 injunction and the court issued another injunction. In 2012 plaintiffs filed a request for an order to show cause why the state should not be held in contempt for not conforming with the 2007 injunction. The district court found that the state's reporting processes did not conform with the requirements of the injunction, but also found that the injunction may not have been clear and modified the injunction to clarify the accountability obligations. The state appealed on several grounds contending that "the Modified Injunction is invalid because it was issued without notice and an opportunity for the State to be heard; that it violates the Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”); that the statewide scope of the injunction is unjustified by the evidence; that the district court exceeded its authority in appointing an expert to resolve disputes between Plaintiffs and the State; and that the Modified Injunction conflicts with various provisions of state law and with the Collective Bargaining Agreement (“CBA”) between the State and prison employees." The Ninth Circuit held that the state was provided notice and opportunity at a contempt hearing prior to issue of the modified injunction, that the Modified Injunction did not violate the PLRA, the State waived the arguments that the statewide scope of the Modified Injunction is unsupported by the evidence, the section setting forth the expert witness’ authority and duties is invalid, and the Modified Injunction conflicts with various state laws and the CBA. AFFIRMED in part, VACATED and REMANDED in part.

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