Dunn et al v. Thomas et al

Filing 1486

PHASE 2A INVOLUNTARY-MEDICATION SETTLEMENT FINAL APPROVAL OPINION. Signed by Honorable Judge Myron H. Thompson on 11/27/2017. (kh, )

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IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA, NORTHERN DIVISION EDWARD BRAGGS, et al., Plaintiffs, v. JEFFERSON S. DUNN, in his official capacity as Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Corrections, et al., Defendants. ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) CIVIL ACTION NO. 2:14cv601-MHT (WO) PHASE 2A INVOLUNTARY-MEDICATION SETTLEMENT FINAL APPROVAL OPINION I. INTRODUCTION This class-action lawsuit brought by a group of seriously mentally ill prisoners in the custody of the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC or Department) is before the court on a promised opinion explaining why, in partial resolution of this litigation, it previously approved a settlement of the group’s claims challenging the Department’s policies and procedures. involuntary-medication The plaintiffs in this phase, Phase 2A, of the lawsuit are a group of seriously mentally ill state prisoners and the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program (ADAP), which Alabama. represents The mentally defendants are ill prisoners ADOC in Commissioner Jefferson Dunn and the ADOC Associate Commissioner of Health Services Ruth Naglich, who are both sued in only their official capacities. The plaintiffs claim that the Department’s involuntary-medication policies and procedures deprive prisoners of due process of law in violation of the Fourteenth § 1983. Amendment, as through 42 U.S.C. See Fifth Amended Complaint (doc. no. 805) at 137–38. Department’s procedures: Specifically, requiring they contend involuntary-medication (1) deny involuntary-medication by enforced them to be policies prisoners orders due absent a the and subject substantive medicated that to process recent finding of dangerousness; (2) deny prisoners subject to involuntary-medication orders procedural due process by 2 failing to hearings provide and them other with protections adequate provided notice for in of the applicable regulation; and (3) deny prisoners who are not subject substantive to and involuntary-medication procedural due process by orders coercing consent to take medications that they otherwise would refuse. The plaintiffs seek injunctive and declaratory relief. Jurisdiction is proper under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 (federal question) Following months and of § 1343(a)(3) negotiations, (civil the rights). parties have bifurcated for court the settled these claims. This case administrative parties. two has twice convenience been of the and In September 2015, this case was divided into distinct phases: Phase 1, which involves claims under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (codified at 42 U.S.C. § 12131 et seq.) and § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (codified at 29 U.S.C. § 794) (both of which statutes are, for ease of reference, referred to as the ADA), but which claims 3 are unrelated to mental health; involves all other claims. and Phase 2, which A year later, in September 2016, the court further bifurcated this case into Phase 2A, encompassing an Eighth Amendment claim related to the treatment of prisoners with mental illness, an ADA claim of prisoners with only mental disabilities, and involuntary-medication claims; and Phase 2B, involving Eighth Amendment claims related to medical and dental care. The court has already granted relief on several of the plaintiffs’ claims. In September 2016, the court approved a settlement of the plaintiffs’ Phase 1 ADA claims for prisoners with physical disabilities. See Dunn v. F.R.D. 652 (M.D. Ala. 2016) (Thompson, J.). subsequently entered the parties’ Dunn, 318 The court settlement as a consent decree. In June 2017, the court found the Department liable on the plaintiffs’ Phase 2A Eighth Amendment claim. See Braggs v. Dunn, -- F. Supp. 3d --, 2017 WL 2773833 (M.D. Ala. June 27, 2017) (Thompson, J.). 4 Based upon a veritable mountain Department’s of evidence, provision “horrendously of the court mental-health inadequate” and deficient under the Eighth Amendment. found care to the be constitutionally Id. at *68. In July 2017, the court approved a settlement of the plaintiffs’ Phase 2A ADA claim, relating to prisoners with mental disabilities, see Braggs v. Dunn, -- F.R.D. --, 2017 WL 3151261 (M.D. Ala. July 25, 2017) (Thompson, J.), which resulted in the court entering a consent decree. The parties, with the able assistance of United States Magistrate Judge John E. Ott, have now reached a settlement on unaddressed the plaintiffs’ claims for involuntary-medication previously certified Phase claims. a class involuntary-medication claims. only The for the remaining 2A: the court had plaintiffs’ See Braggs v. Dunn, 317 F.R.D. 634 (M.D. Ala. 2016) (Thompson, J.). The parties filed a joint motion for preliminary approval of the proposed 5 settlement of the involuntary-medication claims. joint motion, proposed the court settlement. After a hearing on the preliminarily In its approved preliminary the approval order, the court established a procedure for providing class members opportunity with to notice object of and the submit agreement and comments on an the agreement’s fairness. After receiving written comments from class members, the court held two days of fairness hearings in August 2017. During the first day, the court heard from a representative group of class members--selected by the court with input of the parties--who submitted comments on the proposed agreement. had During the second day, counsel for the parties responded to various witnesses’ comments and questions raised by the court. After the fairness hearings, September 6, 2017, entered approval of the Proposed Medication Settlement an order Phase Agreement 6 the court, granting 2A and on final Involuntary granted the parties’ request to enter their settlement agreement as a consent decree. This opinion discusses the court’s reasons for doing so. II. DESCRIPTION OF PROPOSED SETTLEMENT Generally designed to speaking, address all the proposed disputed settlement issues related is to involuntarily medicating ADOC inmates and remedy all claims include arising all from that procedural process. and It is substantive meant to due-process claims. See Proposed Phase 2A Involuntary Medication Settlement Agreement (doc. no. 1248-1) at 5. The agreement includes the following eight substantive provisions: Revised Involuntary-Medication Regulation: The Commissioner agrees to adopt and implement the revised Administrative Department’s Regulation (AR) 621, involuntary-medication which is regulation. the The revised regulation contains the following provisions, in relevant part: (1) a policy against threatening or 7 coercing prisoners to accept psychotropic medications; (2) a requirement document whether likelihood others of that there is serious when a Department current physical deciding involuntary-medication the to harm and and substantial self or prisoner on an a (3) towards a place order; consider requirement that the Involuntary Medication Review Committee find that involuntary-medication is in the patient’s best medical interest before deciding to issue an involuntary-medication order; (4) a policy requiring an independent and knowledgeable advisor to review involuntary-medication orders and assist prisoners in challenging where an adverse appropriate; (5) the involuntary-medication providers treatment; who and were (6) involuntary-medication review not a creation board, involved requirement order, of consisting in the that a an of patient’s patient be afforded an opportunity to be unmedicated for 30 days if on an involuntary-medication order for 180 days. 8 Dismissal of Claims: The parties agree, and jointly move, to dismiss plaintiff Quang Bui’s claims with prejudice. No Admission of Liability: The parties submit that the agreement may not be construed as an admission of liability against Commissioner Dunn, Associate Commissioner Ruth Naglich or the Department. Moreover, nothing in the agreement is to be construed as evidence of liability as to any claim or case against the Libraries: The Department or any of its officials. Placement of Agreement in Law Department agrees to place the agreement, including the revised involuntary-medication regulation, in the law library of every major correctional facility. Provision of Mental-Health Records to ADAP: The Department will provide information and documentation to ADAP for review on a monthly basis for 24 months, including (1) a roster involuntary-medication mental-health, or of orders; other all and records 9 prisoners (2) all on medical, concerning the Department’s involuntary-medication pertaining to up to four proceedings prisoners on involuntary-medication orders. Collaborative Oversight: ADAP may then prepare and submit a monthly report to the Department regarding the Department’s compliance with this agreement and the revised involuntary-medication regulation, including by providing any recommendations it believes necessary to ensure the Department is in substantial compliance with the agreement regulation. or the revised involuntary-medication The Department may object, comment on, or provide a remedial plan to any suggestions contained in ADAP’s monthly report. Attorneys’ Fees and Expenses: The Department will pay the plaintiffs’ attorneys $ 230,000.00 in fees and costs. This agreement, unlike the parties’ settlements of the plaintiffs’ ADA claims, does not provide for additional fees for monitoring services or fees associated with any litigation necessary to enforce the agreement or any resulting consent decree. 10 Disposition of Claims: The parties also agree that the settlement fully resolves the plaintiffs’ “Third Cause of Action: Deprivation of Due Process Prior to Involuntarily Medicating Prisoners” claims in the Fifth Amended Complaint. As a result, no member of the certified settlement class may bring a claim that the revised involuntary-medication prisoners of settlement term. plaintiff Bui procedural regulation due process deprives during the Finally, the parties agree that named will not to assert a substantive due-process claim seeking prospective injunctive relief against the Department concerning its revised involuntary-medication regulation. In addition to these substantive provisions, the agreement contains the following “Other Terms and Conditions:” No Monetary Compensation: Nothing in the agreement imposes any obligation to provide any form of monetary payment to any current or within the Department. 11 future prisoners housed No Appeal: The parties have agreed to waive the right to appeal the imposition of the agreement. Court’s agree Retention that, agreement, after the of Jurisdiction: the court court’s will The approval retain parties of the jurisdiction to enforce it. Expiration of Agreement: The agreement shall expire at 12:00 p.m. on September 6, 2019, two years after the court entered its final approval order. No Waiver of Privilege: The parties agree that the agreement does not constitute a waiver, now or in the future, of any applicable privilege provided by law. Stipulation relating to the PLRA: Although discussed in greater detail below, the parties agree, and jointly stipulate, that this agreement fully complies with the requirements of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), 18 U.S.C. § 3626(a). Dispute-Resolution Process: Prior to seeking review before this court, the parties agree to submit any claims relating to the Department’s compliance with the 12 terms of the agreement involuntary-medication or to regulation the revised mediation before United States Magistrate Judge John E. Ott. Modification of Agreement: The parties may mutually agree to amend the agreement. Otherwise, the parties may not seek to amend or modify this agreement, except to extend the term of the agreement beyond two years. Duty to Hire: The Department is under no obligation to hire additional employees as a result of the agreement, except that the Department must ensure its compliance with the revised involuntary-medication regulation. Other: Finally, the parties agree that the agreement does not--and is not intended to--violate any preexisting extent under court possible, the laws order the of in this agreement the State case; shall of that, be to the interpreted Alabama; that any invalid provision shall be severable from the remainder of the agreement; that the agreement represents the entire understanding and agreement between the parties; 13 and that all signatures on the agreement constitute an effective signature to the agreement as a whole. After an exhaustive notice and comment period, followed by a series of fairness hearings, and upon consideration of all the evidence presented in this case related to the Department’s involuntary-medication policies and procedures, the court was satisfied that the parties proposed settlement represented a fair, adequate, and reasonable settlement for purposes of the plaintiffs’ involuntary-medication claims. III. Judicial actions. policy favors more the settlement of class See Bennett v. Behring Corp., 737 F.2d 982, 986 (11th Cir. 1984). is DISCUSSION susceptible However, “the settlement process than the adversarial process to certain types of abuse and, as a result, a court has a heavy, independent duty to ensure that the settlement is ‘fair, Wells, 686 adequate, F. Supp. and reasonable.’” 1442, 14 1444 (M.D. Paradise Ala. v. 1988) (Thompson, J.) (citation omitted). In addition to analyzing the fairness of the proposed agreement, the court must ensure that it is not illegal, or against public policy. See id. In approving this agreement, the court had to make three determinations. whether the First, procedural and the court substantive assessed protections provided by Rule 23(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure were satisfied. Second, because the proposed settlement included an award of attorneys’ fees to the plaintiffs’ counsel, Rule 23(h) required the court to determine whether such a fee award was “reasonable.” Finally, the court evaluated the proposed settlement’s compliance with the PLRA, which establishes certain requirements for affording prospective relief in cases involving relief prisons, takes settlement. A. the including form of when a that prospective court-enforceable See 18 U.S.C. § 3626(a)(1) & (c)(1). Settlement Approval: Rule 23(e) 15 Under Rule 23(e), the settlement of a class action requires court approval. Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(e)(1)(A). The court may approve a class action settlement only if it determines that the settlement is “fair, adequate, and reasonable and is between the parties.” 1330 (5th Cir. not the product of collusion Cotton v. Hinton, 559 F.2d 1326, 1977).1 In determining whether the settlement is fair, adequate, and reasonable, courts must determine whether notice to the class was adequate, Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(e)(1), and must examine comments and objections from class members as well as the opinion of class counsel. See Laube v. Campbell, 333 F. Supp. 2d 1234, 1238 (M.D. Ala. 2004) (Thompson, J.). 1. In Bonner v. City of Prichard, 661 F.2d 1206, 1209 (11th Cir. 1981) (en banc), the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals adopted as binding precedent all of the decisions of the former Fifth Circuit handed down prior to the close of business on September 30, 1981. 16 1. Notice to Class Members Rule 23(e) requires that notice to the class be provided “in a reasonable manner to all class members who would be bound by the proposal.” 23(e). are Fed. R. Civ. P. “The court must ensure that all class members informed of the agreement[] and opportunity to voice their objections.” have Laube, 333 F. Supp. 2d at 1240; Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(e)(1). case, class members were the In this provided adequate opportunities to learn about the proposed settlement and offer objections to or make comments about it. The court’s parties’ order proposed preliminarily settlement approving contained the specific procedures for the Department to give notice to members of the order certified also involuntary-medication required the Department approved notice and comment forms. included a description involuntary-medication claims; of a class. to The distribute The notice form the plaintiffs’ definition of the certified settlement class; a list of the revisions to 17 the involuntary-medication regulation; an indication of ADAP’s role in monitoring the Department’s compliance with the agreement; notice of the provision for attorneys’ fees to the plaintiffs’ counsel; directions for providing questions or comments on the agreement and the revised involuntary-medication regulation; an announcement of the fairness hearings; and instructions for prisoners to exercise their right to object to or comment form about allowed the proposed respondents to settlement. select The from a comment list of general topics at issue, and to indicate whether they wished to testify about the agreement at a fairness hearing. The notice form was posted in the law library, dining areas, and mental-health office waiting areas of each ADOC or work-release facility. placed next treatment to unit the shower (RTU) or area in prisoners housed in those units. 18 Notice forms were in the each residential infirmaries for In addition, notice forms were hand delivered to prisoners on the mental-health caseload in those units. The notice form was also placed in each living unit in the open RTUs at Tutwiler, Bullock, and Donaldson correctional facilities. the comment provided form, and hand A copy of the notice form, to by a pre-addressed prisoners in envelope the were Intensive Stabilization Units, closed RTUs, semi-open RTUs, or crisis cells. Finally, copies of the agreement were provided upon request to any prisoner lacking access to those areas where notices were located. The notice proposed and agreement comment were forms made and available Spanish, Braille, and in large print. prisoners were to receive copies assistance in of the English, Upon request, in reading the documents and in writing comments. A copy of a comment form was to be provided along with a copy of the notice form. The Department was required to keep a roster, by name and AIS number, of all prisoners who had received notice of the agreement. 19 After distributing the notice and comment forms, the Department collected prisoner comments. also given the option to submit Prisoners were comments by mail directly to the clerk of court. Notice of the proposed agreement was posted by June 2, 2017, and prisoners were given until July 17, 2017, to submit comments. prisoner comments The court received more than 200 by mail or from the facilities themselves, which were thereafter docketed for review. 2. Objections and Comments a. Prisoner Comments Prisoners raised a variety of issues relating to the proposed submitted to settlement the agreement court.2 in Moreover, their based comments on the 2. To the extent possible, the court construed prisoners’ comments as referencing the agreement. However, the court found that only 23 prisoners provided objections or comments that were directly relevant to the agreement or revised involuntary-medication regulation. The court had to disregard 197 comment forms because they were either incomplete or blank, provided no reason for circling a particular (pre-identified) comment topic, were 20 suggestions of counsel and the court’s own review of the relevant prisoner comments, the court selected 12 prisoners to testify during fairness hearings conducted on August 23, 2017. The hearing were conducted by videoconference due to the impracticability of visiting a large number of prisons or having prisoners appear in-person in court . The relevant comments and testimony fell into five loosely defined categories: (1) concerns about the Department using coercion to obtain consent to medicate prisoners; (2) suggested involuntary-medication revisions regulation; to (3) the revised doubts about ADAP’s role in monitoring the Department; (4) requests related to procedures order. attorneys’ for fees; terminating and an (5) concerns about involuntary-medication Each of these categories is discussed below. Coercion: Five prisoners expressed concerns that the Department might use the revised involuntary-medication regulation to coerce prisoners: indecipherable, or were agreement, as a whole. otherwise 21 irrelevant to the either that the Department might coerce prisoners to take their medication involuntarily by means other than the involuntary-medication Department might use procedure; the or that the involuntary-medication procedure as a punitive measure to get prisoners to conform to certain behavior. The revised involuntary-medication regulation directly addresses these concerns, and in several ways. On the first page of the revised regulation, it states: “In no instance shall an inmate be threatened ... with the use of force or a threat of disciplinary actions such as segregation, loss of privileges, or loss of good time, as a means to coerce the inmate to accept psychotropic medications ....” Proposed Phase 2A Involuntary Medication Settlement Agreement (doc. no. 1248-1) at 44. It further, unequivocally, states: “The use of involuntary-medication as a punitive measure is strictly prohibited.” found these Id. at 47. prisoners’ concerns 22 Therefore, the court to be groundless in light of the terms of the revised involuntary-medication regulation. Revision prisoners to made the Administrative suggested Regulation: revisions to the revised involuntary-medication regulation. remarked involuntary-medication should that not (some) automatically expire after Three One prisoner six orders months or that (some) prisoners should not automatically be taken off of their involuntary-medication regimen, if they still need suggested their that medications. the Two revised other prisoners involuntary-medication regulation should not require prisoners to be taken off of their involuntary-medication orders “cold turkey” in all cases. These concerns, however, are addressed in the revised involuntary-medication regulation. First, the revised involuntary-medication regulation does not mandate that all prisoners be taken off of their involuntary-medication circumstances, after six regimens, months. regardless Instead, the regulation provides, in Section O, that: “Continuation 23 of the authorization for involuntary-medication will be re-evaluated after the initial 180-day order to continue to involuntarily medicate the inmate .... An inmate will be given a thirty (30) day respite at the completion of the initial involuntarily medicate.” Second, the 180 day order to Id. at 49. revised involuntary-medication regulation does not require prisoners to be taken off their medication ‘cold turkey.’ The regulation provides, in relevant part, that during the period of respite between involuntary-medication orders, “Should an inmate ... show signs of deterioration in his/her mental health, the treating psychiatrist may order a continuation of the authorization for involuntary medication for a second 180-day interval.” Id. at 50. And, as is the case for any prisoner, the decision to involuntarily medicate a prisoner must be accompanied by a “[s]tatement that the administration of the contemplated psychotropic medication is in the inmate’s best medical interest.” Id. at 46. 24 Accordingly, the revised involuntary-medication regulation already addresses these proposed revisions, and the objections on those bases were not well founded. Monitoring: Monitoring was the most frequent topic of the relevant comments about the agreement: eight prisoners commented about ADAP’s ability to monitor the Department’s compliance with their own administrative regulation effectively and made suggestions for improving the monitoring services provided for in the agreement. One comment, characteristic of the requests for improved monitoring, states, “ADOC does not go by polic[ies] already implemented and will not go by this Administrative Regulation.” Others state that monitoring should use an “element of surprise,” or that monitoring services independent should third-party be provided monitoring by group. an The agreement addresses each of these concerns. As the Regarding provides parties Inmate for note in Comments, extensive their the Submission settlement monitoring 25 Joint for a agreement two-year period. As a part of the arrangement, ADAP is permitted to review four prisoners’ records that are subject to involuntary-medication month of the agreement. report to ADOC orders during each ADAP can also submit a monthly regarding ADOC’s compliance, and the court retains jurisdiction to enforce the agreement. See Joint Submission Regarding Inmate Comments (doc. no. 1317) at arrangement, 2. the In court light of found the that monitoring the agreement sufficiently addresses the prisoners’ concerns. Attorneys’ specifically agreement. are the Fees: to the Two prisoners attorneys’ fee objected provision of the Both prisoners claimed that, because they “victims” of the alleged deficient involuntary-medication procedures, they constitutionally compensation are for the also policies entitled pain and to and monetary suffering they experienced under the former regulation. However, comments for as the both court the has Phase 26 remarked 1 and on Phase similar 2A ADA settlements, although the court understands that commenters alleging past harms may feel that they are entitled to damages, the plaintiffs here have sought only injunctive relief for their claims. Moreover, an unnamed class member cannot be precluded from bringing a claim for monetary damages stemming from the same policies or procedures challenged in this class action, since the class representatives sought only injunctive or declaratory relief. 1024, 1031 Therefore, (11th See Fortner v. Thomas, 983 F.2d Cir. prisoners 1993) who wish (collecting to seek cases). monetary compensation for violations of due process under the former involuntary-medication policies or procedures are not foreclosed from doing so by the agreement. Terminating an Involuntary-Medication Order: Finally, four prisoners complained generally that they had been on involuntary-medication orders for prolonged periods of time. on an another One prisoner claimed that he has been involuntary-medication claimed that he 27 order has for six been years; on an involuntary-medication almost 20 years. order, without reprieve, for Construed as a complaint that the revised involuntary-medication regulation should allow prisoners to come off their involuntary-medication order, under certain circumstances, after the initial involuntary-medication that the revised order lapses, the court involuntary-medication found regulation addresses this concern as well. Section regulation P of the addresses revised the involuntary-medication concerns raised in these comments, as it provides that the procedures set in place before by the the new regulation continuation of must an be complied with involuntary-medication order that has been in place for at least 365 days of the past 16 months. Proposed Phase 2A Involuntary Medication Settlement Agreement (doc. no. 1248-1) at 50. Those procedures documentation involuntarily; of the require, among need medicate evidence to that 28 other a alternatives things: prisoner to or attempts at treatment other than involuntary-medication are or would Involuntary be futile; Medication an Review evaluation Committee to by the determine whether involuntarily medicating a prisoner is in the prisoner’s best medical interest; an opportunity for the prisoner to present involuntary-medication majority Committee, of the evidence regimen; a Involuntary including the vote against decision Medication of the by an a Review psychiatrist; documentation explaining the reasons for the decision to initiate the involuntary-medication order; and an opportunity for the prisoner, with the assistance of an independent advisor, to appeal an adverse involuntarymedication order. Id. at 46–49. Therefore, because of the safeguards set in place by the new policies, the prisoners’ concerns are unfounded. Conclusion: After a careful review of all the comments and objections filed by class members and the testimony of prisoners at the fairness hearings, the court found that none of 29 the prisoners’ comments seriously called into question the fairness of the agreement, in whole or in part. b. Views of Class Counsel In members, counsel. addition the to court considering considered the the views of class opinion of class Pettway v. American Cast Iron Pipe Co., 576 F.2d 1157, 1215 (5th Cir. 1978); Gaddis v. Campbell, 301 F. Supp. 2d 1310, 1315 (M.D. Ala. 2004) (Thompson, J.). Class counsel contended that the proposed agreement was a fair, adequate, and reasonable resolution of the plaintiffs’ Phase 2A involuntary-medication claims. At the fairness hearing on August 24, 2017, counsel argued that the agreement was “rigorously negotiated” and was “reached through a great deal of hard work on a variety of disputed issues.” Counsel firmly believed this settlement was advantageous to the certified class and complied with the requirements of Washington v. Harper, 494 U.S. 210, 235 (1990). 30 Additionally, before the fairness hearing, the court requested supplemental briefing on “whether the revised Administrative Regulation 621 creates an avenue for judicial review of an adverse involuntary medication order” and “if the regulation does create an avenue for judicial review, how it does so.” Phase 2A Involuntary Medication Settlement Agreement Preliminary Approval Order (doc. no. 1253) at 10–11. In the parties’ parties’ stated joint that brief the in response, “Revised the Administrative Regulation 621 (the ‘Regulation’) contains an avenue for judicial review of involuntary-medication order. an adverse Specifically, Section J of the ‘Procedures’ section of the Regulation provides that ‘[t]he inmate shall be informed of the right to appeal any decision to a court of appropriate jurisdiction.’ An adverse involuntary medication order falls squarely within ‘any decision’ that appealed to a court of competent jurisdiction.” Brief Regarding Judicial 31 Review of an may be Joint Adverse Involuntary Medication Order (doc. no. 1318) at 1–2 (internal citations omitted). The parties further stated that a prisoner may seek judicial review in state court through a petition for a writ of habeas corpus or in federal court by asserting a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, noting that the internal administrative appeal process for appealing an adverse involuntary-medication order constitutes the administrative remedy that must be exhausted under the PLRA in order to pursue a § 1983 claim. Accordingly, contained an consistent the court avenue with the for found that judicial requirements Id. at 2–3. the agreement review of that Harper. is See Harper, 494 U.S. at 216 (noting that an “inmate may seek judicial review of a committee decision in state court by means of a personal restraint petition or extraordinary writ”). As provides to an the second avenue for question--how judicial the regulation review--the parties stated that, “A prisoner will be informed of the right 32 to judicial review in the Notice of Medication Hearing (ADOC Form MH-029).” Regarding Judicial Review of an Involuntary Joint Brief Adverse Involuntary Medication Order (doc. no. 1318) at 3, which “informs a prisoner subject to an adverse involuntary medication order of the right ‘[t]o seek judicial review in a court of appropriate jurisdiction if the administrative appeal is denied.’” Id. This, too, is sufficient and consistent with the requirements of Harper. Upon consideration of the views of class counsel, the court found that nothing addressed by the parties seriously called into question the fairness, adequacy, or reasonableness of the agreement. 3. Court's Assessment Based on the evidence and argument presented by the parties and class members, the court determined that the proposed settlement agreement is fair, adequate, and reasonable. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(e). In making that determination, the court considered a variety of 33 “[r]elevant factors”, including “the stage in the proceedings; the plaintiffs’ likelihood of success at trial [on the remaining issues]; the complexity, expense, and likely duration of the lawsuit; and the range of possible recovery.” Laube, 333 F. Supp. 2d at 1246. The substantive provisions of the agreement represent a highly favorable result for the plaintiff class. The plaintiffs in this case alleged that the Department’s procedures requires.” 3. involuntary-medication “f[e]ll far short of policies what due and process Fifth Amended Complaint (doc. no. 805) at The agreement essentially gives the class all of the remedies the plaintiffs sought at the outset of this litigation. Notably, even if the plaintiffs had proceeded to and prevailed at trial on their Phase 2A involuntary-medication claims, the parties would have still been confronted with the task of fashioning a revised Administrative Regulation. 34 Any such regulation would likely have closely resembled the revised regulation attached to the settlement agreement. Accordingly, upon an independent review of prisoner comments and the views of class counsel, the court found the agreement to represent a fair, adequate, and reasonable settlement of the plaintiffs’ involuntary-medication claims. B. Attorneys’ Fees: Rule 23(h) Rule 23(h) provides that, “In a class action, the court may award reasonable attorney’s fees and nontaxable costs that are authorized by law or by the parties’ agreement.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(h). To award attorneys’ fees, however, a court must ensure that the parties have complied with the following procedures: (1) the parties filed a motion for attorneys’ fees; (2) the class members must be given notice and an opportunity to object to the motion; and (3) the court must find that the award sought is reasonable. 35 See id. The settlement Department will agreement pay the provides that plaintiffs’ the counsel $ 230,000.00 in fees and costs, which include any and all costs associated with or generated by class counsel in initiating and litigating the plaintiffs’ involuntary-medication claims and fees associated with ADAP’s role in monitoring the Department’s compliance with the agreement. See Proposed Phase 2A Involuntary Medication Settlement Agreement (doc. no. 1248-1) at 28–29. Because the provision the proposed included in received notice of the of attorneys’ settlement, plaintiffs’ fees class class was members attorneys’ request for attorneys’ fees during the comment period. Two prisoners objected to the fee provision; however, as mentioned previously, these prisoners merely argued that the provision of fees to class counsel was unfair, given the fact that they were not also being awarded monetary damages. But again, because the agreement does not foreclose the opportunity for class members to 36 seek monetary because the damages for plaintiffs individual have sought claims, only and injunctive relief and not damages in this case, this concern is unfounded. Nevertheless, even when both sides agree to an award of attorneys’ fees, the court has an independent obligation to assess its reasonableness, in order to guard against the risk that class counsel might agree to enter into a settlement less favorable to their clients in exchange for inappropriately high fees. Piambino v. Bailey, 757 F.2d 1112, 1144 (11th See Cir. 1985) (“When the class attorneys succeed in reaping a golden harvest of fees in a case involving a relatively small recovery, profession are the judicial disparaged. system ... and The the legal practice of awarding attorneys' fees is one that has been delicate, embarrassing and disturbing for the courts. ... This embarrassment is rooted in the fact that the bitterest complaints [about the legal profession] from laymen [are directed at] the windfall fees and featherbedding 37 that lawyers have managed to perpetuate their influence with the judiciary. their own integrity, profession, important and that the integrity the courts ... For the sake of integrity the through of of Rule should the 23, avoid legal it is awarding windfall fees and that they should likewise avoid every appearance of having done so.”) (citations and internal quotations omitted). To determine whether an attorneys’ fee award is reasonable, the court uses the lodestar method. It does so by multiplying the number of hours reasonably expended by a reasonable hourly rate, see Norman v. Hous. Auth. of Montgomery, 836 F.2d 1292, 1299 (11th Cir. 1988), and then considering whether an upward or downward adjustment is warranted in light of the factors set out in Johnson v. Georgia Highway Express, Inc., 488 F.2d 714, 717–19 (5th Cir. 1974). Those factors are: (1) the time and labor required; (2) the novelty and difficulty of the questions; (3) the skill required to perform the legal 38 services properly; (4) the preclusion of other employment by the attorney due to acceptance of the case; (5) the customary fee in the community; (6) whether the fee is fixed or contingent; (7) time limitations imposed by the client or circumstances; (8) the amount involved and the results obtained; (9) the experience, reputation, and ability of the attorneys; (10) the “undesirability” of the case; professional (11) the nature relationship and with length the of the client; and request, the (12) awards in similar cases. In support of the attorneys’ fee plaintiffs’ counsel submitted evidence that they have incurred, or will incur, approximately $ 230,000.00 in litigation expenses on the Phase 2A involuntary-medication claims and fees associated with ADAP’s role in monitoring the Department’s compliance with the agreement and revised involuntary-medication regulation. See Plaintiffs’ Motion for Attorneys’ Fees (doc. no. 1346). The plaintiffs’ counsel expended over 476.3 total hours of billable time on this portion of 39 the case as of the date of signing the settlement and “significant time for almost signing the agreement. determine the exact four Id. at 3. number of (4) months” after It is impossible to hours that ADAP will spend monitoring the implementation of the new policies under the settlement agreement after final settlement approval parties and jointly represents kind. during during a agree the fairness settlement that reasonable Moreover, the the the fee hearings but $ 230,000.00 for parties term, request litigation agreed that on the the of the this record request for attorneys’ fees was reasonable. After considering the Johnson factors, the court found that the fee was reasonable and no adjustment of the lodestar claims, figure which have extraordinarily current and large future involuntary-medication achieved a remedial was warranted. been ongoing in scope; prisoners orders; order 40 that These since they settled 2014, concern on and subject and they sought mandates a are both to and dramatic transformation in the way the Department treats such prisoners. The range of complex legal and factual questions presented by the plaintiffs’ claims, and the amount of time the plaintiffs’ attorneys reasonably spent both in preparing these claims for trial and in negotiating and securing approval of the settlement agreement, warrant the sizeable fee award. C. PLRA The PLRA provides that a “court shall not grant or approve any prospective relief unless the court finds that such relief is narrowly drawn, extends no further than necessary to correct the violation of the Federal right, and is the least intrusive means necessary to correct the the Federal 18 U.S.C. § 3626(a)(1)(A). In conducting “need-narrowness-intrusiveness” inquiry, required weight to violation “give of substantial to a right.” this court any is adverse impact on public safety or the operation of a criminal justice system caused by the relief.” 41 Id. While the requirement to engage in a need-narrowness-intrusiveness analysis must be met in some circumstances, “[t]he parties are free to make any concessions or enter into any stipulations they deem appropriate” when submitting an initial settlement to the court, and the court does not need to “conduct an evidentiary hearing about or enter particularized findings concerning any facts or factors about which there is not dispute.” Cason v. Seckinger, 231 F.3d 777, 785 n.8 (11th Cir. 2000). Here, the parties agreed that the proposed settlement satisfies the need-narrowness-intrusiveness requirements of 18 U.S.C. § 3626(a)(1)(A). Phase 2A (doc. no. Involuntary 1248-1) Medication at 12. Settlement Based on the Proposed Agreement court’s independent review of the agreement, the court agreed. The court further found--and the parties stipulated--that the settlement agreement will not have an adverse effect on public safety or the operation of the criminal justice system. 42 See 18 U.S.C. § 3626(a)(1)(A). To the contrary, once the Department implements the involuntary-medication agreed-upon regulation, revised prisoners will be afforded more notice and given an increased opportunity to challenge an adverse involuntary-medication order. Furthermore, the documentation that the Department is required to maintain involuntary-medication will ensure decisions process they are due. that afford reviews prisoners of the And, finally, the Department will retain the ability to use involuntary-medication orders to treat prisoners who truly need to be medicated without their consent. In addition, prospective years relief after court the PLRA’s order requirement must approval (or terminate one year that any within two after the court’s denial of termination of a prospective relief order) As is satisfied. explained terminate two See 18 U.S.C. § 3626(b)(1)(A). previously, years the after settlement. 43 the agreement court is set approved to the Moreover, the requirements for appointing a special master in a prison case, see 18 U.S.C. § 3626(f), are inapplicable here. The parties agreed to the appointment of United States Magistrate Judge John E. Ott to serve as a mediator, not a special master, for any “dispute related to the terms and conditions of ... this Agreement.” Proposed Phase 2A Involuntary Medication Settlement Agreement (doc. no. 1248-1) at 13. Finally, to the extent 18 U.S.C. § 3626(f) may still be applicable, the parties have expressly waived the right to challenge Judge Ott’s decision or this settlement on that basis. In sum, the court is satisfied that its entry of a consent decree is in full compliance with the PLRA. IV. In Washington recognized liberty v. CONCLUSION Harper, that prisoners interest in the possess avoiding Supreme “a the Court significant unwanted administration of anti-psychotic drugs under the Due 44 Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.” at 221–22. recognized 494 U.S. Nevertheless, the Court has consistently the need to balance its “longstanding adherence to the principle that inmates retain at least some constitutional rights despite incarceration with the recognition that prison authorities are best equipped to make difficult decisions regarding prison administration.” The Id. at 223–24. parties’ settlement reflects towards balancing those interests. a commitment It also represents years of dedication towards ensuring compliance with the dictates of the Constitution. The court understands both parties’ investment in this process to be genuine, and commends them for it. The court also, again, recognizes the important role played by prisoners, who, in this context, are subject to the Department’s involuntary-medication regime, as well as the numerous prisoners who submitted comments, for their advocacy on behalf of themselves and others. 45 Finally, the court would like to extend a special thank you for the tireless efforts of United States Magistrate Judge John E. Ott. Without his efforts, the court is convinced that this agreement would not have been possible. For all of the above reasons, the court approved and adopted, as its own partial final judgment, the parties' settlement of the plaintiffs' involuntary-medication claims. DONE, this the 27th day of November, 2017. /s/ Myron H. Thompson UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 46

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