Dunn et al v. Thomas et al

Filing 1253

PHASE 2A OPINION AND ORDER PRELIMINARILY APPROVING INVOLUNTARY MEDICATION SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT: Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(e), the parties jointly move the court to grant preliminary approval of their proposed Involuntary Medicati on Settlement Agreement in Phase 2A of this litigation; to approve the form of notice to class members of the proposed settlement agreement ("notice form") (attached as Exhibit A); to approve the form for objecting to or commenting on the p roposed settlement agreement ("comment form") (attached as Exhibit B); and to approve the process for providing notice and collecting comments from interested parties, as further set out. Based on the entire record before the court, the cou rt finds as follows: First, the court finds that the proposed settlement agreement should be preliminarily approved, that notice should be provided to interested parties, and that a fairness hearing should be conducted. The court further finds it app ropriate to provisionally certify a Rule 23(b)(2) injunctive-relief settlement class composed of "all persons with a serious mental health disorder or illness who are now, or will in the future be subject to defendants' formal involuntary m edication policies and practices." For reasons to be articulated in a final decision regarding whether to approve the settlement, the court preliminarily finds that the settlement class meets the requirements of Rule 23(a)-- numerosity, commonal ity, typicality, and adequacy of representation--as well as the requirement of Rule 23(b)(2) that the issues involved "apply generally to the class," such that "relief is appropriate respecting the class as a whole." The court pre liminarily finds that plaintiffs' counsel in this case can capably serve as and should be appointed class counsel, based on the factors outlined in Rule 23(g). Finally, the court finds that the notice and comment forms attached as exhibits to th is order, and that the process for distributing and collecting these forms outlined below, constitute sufficient notice of and--together with the fairness hearing described below--opportunity to be heard on the proposed settlement agreement, as is re quired by due process and Rule 23(e). It is therefore ORDERED that the joint motion for preliminary approval and notice of proposed settlement (doc. nos. 1248 ) is granted as follows, as further set out. A fairness hearing is set for 10:00 a.m. on A ugust 23, 2017, in Courtroom 2FMJ of the Frank M. Johnson Jr. United States Courthouse Complex, One Church Street, Montgomery, Alabama. At this hearing, counsel for both parties must be prepared to respond to the objections and comments made by class members, as well as to the court's concerns as outlined above, as further set out in order. Signed by Honorable Judge Myron H. Thompson on 5/11/2017. (Attachments: # 1 Notice of Proposed Class Action Settlement About Involuntary Medication, # 2 Response to Proposed Class Action Settlement)(furn: calendar, AG)(kh, )

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Notice of Proposed Class Action Settlement About Involuntary Medication In Braggs v. Dunn, the Plaintiffs allege that the ADOC violates due process in its hearings to determine if it can give a prisoner psychiatric medications against his or her will. The Court found that there is a class of ADOC inmates who have been, or in the future will be, involuntarily medicated. The lawyers for the class and the ADOC have reached a proposed agreement to settle that due process claim. The main terms are: The ADOC will revise and follow its regulation, A.R. 621, regarding involuntary medication. Some of the revisions include: • The policy prohibits threats or use of force or disciplinary actions to coerce or intimidate a person into accepting medication that he or she otherwise wouldn’t have; • The Involuntary Medication Committee cannot include anyone who has, in the previous 6 months, regularly provided treatment, group or individual counseling, medication or medication management to the person going through the involuntary medication hearing. The same limits apply to the persons reviewing the appeal of a decision of the Involuntary Medication Committee. • The person going through the involuntary medication hearing will have an advisor who is independent and knowledgeable about mental health care. • The revised Administrative Regulation No. 621 will require that each person receive specific information about why he or she is being considered for involuntary medication. • The revised Administrative Regulation No. 621 will require that each person receive specific information about the involuntary medication process, including information about the patient’s rights in that process. • A person in ADOC custody cannot be involuntarily medicated without a determination that it is in his or her best medical interest. • If a person in ADOC custody is being considered for involuntary medication based in part on events in the past, the Involuntary Medication Committee must document the reasons why it considers those events to be evidence of current risk of harm. • The person going through the involuntary medication hearing cannot be removed from the hearing unless he or she has been given repeated warnings but continues to interrupt the hearing. • A person who is going through the involuntary medication hearing has a right to testify on his or her own behalf, to call witnesses so long as the testimony is not repetitive or redundant, and has a right to confront and cross examine witnesses presented by ADOC in support of the request for involuntary medication. • A person who has been involuntarily medicated for 270 days will be given a 30-day break to determine whether there is a continued need for the involuntary medication order. The Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program (“ADAP”) will monitor the implementation of the revised regulation through a review of documents relating to the involuntary medication hearing process. The monitoring will continue for two years. The lawyers for the Plaintiffs will be paid a total of $230,000 for attorneys’ fees and expenses from the lawsuit and for the monitoring work. The settlement agreement and the revised Administrative Regulation are available in the law library of each major prison in Alabama. There will be a fairness hearing on August 24, 2017 to determine whether the settlement is fair to all parties. If you want to comment on or object to the settlement, please fill out a comment form and submit it according to the instructions on the response form. If you have any questions about any information in this notice, or if you want a copy of the proposed settlement agreement, you may write or call the following offices of Class Counsel: William Van Der Pol, Jr. ADAP Box 870395 Tuscaloosa, Alabama 35487 (205) 348-4928 Involuntary Medication Settlement Questions SPLC 400 Washington Avenue Montgomery, Alabama 36104 (334) 956-8352

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