Bacote et al v. Federal Bureau of Prisons et al
ORDER ON CLA STANDING The CLA has established standing to pursue claims for declaratory and injunctive relief for prisoners with mental illness housed at ADX, by Judge Richard P. Matsch on 11/3/15. (ktera)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLORADO
Civil Action No. 12-cv-01570-RPM
JOHN W. NARDUCCI, JR.,
JOHN J. POWERS,
ERNEST NORMAN SHAIFER, and
each individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated,
CENTER FOR LEGAL ADVOCACY,
D.B.A. THE LEGAL CENTER FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES AND OLDER
PEOPLE, COLORADO’S PROTECTION AND ADVOCACY SYSTEM,
FEDERAL BUREAU OF PRISONS,
ORDER ON CLA STANDING
The Center for Legal Advocacy, d.b.a The Legal Center for People with
Disabilities and Older People (“CLA”) is one of the plaintiffs in the Second Amended
Complaint, filed on June 15, 2015 (Doc. 274). It sues as an association on behalf of
prisoners with mental illness housed in the United States Penitentiary Administrative
Maximum facility in Florence, Colorado, (“ADX”) operated by the defendant Bureau of
Prisons (“BOP”). The defendant has challenged CLA’s standing to pursue the claims
for declaratory and injunctive relief sought by it and the individual plaintiffs. That
challenge has been briefed and argued as a motion for partial summary judgment.
The CLA is a non-profit corporation designated by the State of Colorado to
receive allotments pursuant to the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental
Illness Act (“PAIMI”). The relevant allegations of the Second Amended Complaint are
set out in the attached Appendix.
The purposes of the PAMII are set out in 42 U.S.C. § 10801(b) as follows:
(1) to ensure that the rights of individuals with mental illness are protected;
(2) to assist States to establish and operate a protection and advocacy
system for individuals with mental illness which will–
(A) protect and advocate the rights of such individuals through
activities to ensure the enforcement of the Constitution and Federal
and State statutes; and
(B) investigate incidents of abuse and neglect of mentally ill
individuals if the incidents are reported to the system or if there is
probable cause to believe that the incidents occurred.
The allegations about the creation, structure, operations and actions of the CLA
relevant to its joinder in this lawsuit are not disputed.
Prisons are included in the definition of “facilities” in § 10802(3), as one rendering
care or treatment of mentally ill persons subject to the protections of the statute. The
CLA meets the eligible system requirements in § 10805 and therefore has authority to
pursue legal remedies “to ensure the protection of individuals with mental illness who
are receiving care or treatment in the State,” § 10805(1)(B).
The Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects inmates at
ADX from injury caused by deliberate indifference to the need for treatment of their
mental health needs. This civil action seeks to ensure that protection.
The BOP asserts that the CLA does not have Article III standing for a case or
controversy because it has not shown that its litigating position is supported by the
inmates it seeks to represent, and it does not show that it has its own injury in fact. The
defendant also claims that there is no associational standing because the CLA may not
represent inmates who have not requested representation as required by § 10804(c).
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has definitively decided that a PAMII
organization has both Constitutional and prudential standing to seek declaratory and
injunctive relief for mentally incapacitated persons being held without treatment in
county jails. The opinion deciding that appeal is adopted as decisional for this case.
Oregon Advocacy Center v. Mink, 322 F.3d 1101 (9th Cir. 2003).
The BOP rejects its applicability to this action against a federal facility because of
the language in § 10804(c). That is a subsection of § 10804, which is entitled “Use of
Allotments.” Read in context, the requirement of a request for representation is only a
restriction on the use of allotted federal funds. Because the CLA is not using federal
funds to support this litigation, this subsection is not a limitation on its capacity to
represent all inmates with mental illness at the ADX affected by the alleged
unconstitutional practices of the BOP.1
The defendant claims that in this case the requested equitable relief requires the
participation of individual inmates, contrary to the third prong of Hunt v. Wash. State
Apple Adver. Comm’n, 432 U.S. 333, 334 (1977). The Ninth Circuit rejected that
The fact that no federally allotted funds have been or are being used is attested
by the Declaration of CLA’s Director of Administrative Services, William J. McBride. He
declared that CLA receives non-Federal funds including charitable contributions,
workshop and training income, client fees and court awards. (Doc. 108-1).
argument for the same reason it must be rejected here. The CLA and the individual
plaintiffs are claiming systemic violations of the Eighth Amendment. Proof of those
claims may make some testimony from individual inmates necessary but it does not
require the participation of all inmates affected by those practices.
The CLA has established standing to pursue claims for declaratory and injunctive
relief for prisoners with mental illness housed at ADX.
It is SO ORDERED.
November 3rd, 2015.
BY THE COURT:
s/Richard P. Matsch
Richard P. Matsch, Senior District Judge
IX. ALLEGATIONS RELATING TO THE CENTER FOR LEGAL ADVOCACY
489. The Center for Legal Advocacy d.b.a. Disability Law Colorado (“CLA”), is a
non-profit corporation headquartered in Denver, Colorado. Plaintiff was designated in
1977 by Governor Richard Lamm as Colorado’s protection and advocacy system (P&A
System) to protect and advocate for the rights of persons with developmental disabilities
under subtitle C of the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of
2000, 42 U.S.C. §§ 15041 et seq. Since 1986, CLA has received federal allotmentsgrants on an annual basis, and has established and administered a P &A System in
Colorado for individuals with mental illness pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 10803 and 10805
of the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness Act, (PAIMI Act).
Since 1986, CLA has been and is currently the eligible P&A System for individuals with
mental illness in Colorado as defined at 42 U.S.C. § 10802(2).
490. CLA has associational standing to bring this lawsuit. CLA is the functional
equivalent of a voluntary membership organization that was created by Congress to
protect and advocate for its Colorado Constituents, which include ADX prisoners with
significant mental illness or emotional impairment who are being abused, neglected and
subject to civil rights violations by being denied Constitutionally guaranteed necessary
and appropriate mental health treatment. CLA’s Colorado Constituents possess many
indicia of membership, to include influencing what issues CLA takes on in the
performance of its federal mandate, some of which are alleged in the following
491. CLA publishes the annual PAIMI Program Priorities and Objectives on its
website inviting Constituents to comment on their relative importance to CLA’s statutory
charge to protect and advocate for individuals with mental illness.
492. CLA has a governing board of directors, which is composed of members
who broadly represent and who are knowledgeable about the needs of individuals with
mental illness. CLA’s board of directors includes members who have received or are
receiving mental health services or family members of directors who have received or
are receiving mental health services.
493. CLA has established a PAIMI Advisory Council which advises the P&A
System on the policies, priorities and objectives designed to protect and advocate for
the rights of CLA’s Constituents - individuals with a significant mental illness or
494. The PAIMI Advisory Council includes attorneys, mental health
professionals, members of the public who are knowledgeable about mental illness, a
provider of mental health services, and individuals who have received or are receiving
mental health services or who have family members who have received or are receiving
mental health services. Over sixty percent (60%) of CLA’s PAIMI Advisory Council
consists of members who have received or are receiving mental health services or who
have family members who have received or are receiving mental health services.
495. CLA’s PAIMI Advisory Council is chaired by an individual who themselves or
a family member has received or is receiving mental health services. CLA’s PAIMI
Advisory Council chairperson and one council member are also members of CLA’s
governing board of directors. Together, CLA’s board of directors and CLA’s PAIMI
Advisory Council with assistance of PAIMI Program staff develop the annual priorities
and objectives of the P&A System.
496. CLA’s PAIMI Advisory Council meets six times per year. At these meetings,
the Advisory Council discusses issues that concern abuse, neglect and rights violations,
as well as the delivery of mental health treatment, to CLA’s Constituents throughout
Colorado. These meetings are attended by members of the public who are interested in
mental health issues, CLA’s PAIMI program staff, its Legal Director and Executive
Director. At these meetings PAIMI program staff report on priority casework and recent
developments concerning abuse, neglect and rights violations involving CLA’s
497. Prior to the April 2013 PAIMI Advisory Council meeting, a meeting reminder
notice was sent to interested members of the public and all council members that
included links to the “SuperMax ADX” litigation. Everyone who received the notice was
encouraged to read the information provided at these websites to facilitate discussions
at the Council meeting.
498. At the April 2013, PAIMI Advisory Council meeting PAIMI staff reported on
the lack of mental health treatment for prisoners at the U.S. Bureau of Prison’s ADX
facility in Florence, Colorado. It was reported to attendees and the PAIMI Advisory
Council that the denial of necessary mental health treatment to a federal prisoner,
diagnosed with a significant mental illness or emotional impairment can be a violation of
the Eighth Amendment’s cruel and unusual punishment clause, a serious matter that
CLA needed to address. The council members and attendees were also informed by
PAIMI staff that reports had been received about prisoners with mental illness who had
committed suicide, engaged in self-harming behaviors, were catatonic in their cell, were
smearing feces about themselves and their cells and some were screaming out at all
hours of the day and night. The PAIMI Advisory Council was shocked by these
revelations and thought that something should be done to remedy the situation.
499. Following the April PAIMI Council meeting a new PAIMI Program Priority
was circulated to and adopted by both the PAIMI Advisory Council and CLA’s governing
board. Program Priority 4 directs CLA to investigate and monitor complaints and reports
of abuse, neglect and rights violations from PAIMI eligible individuals confined in the
ADX facility. Program Priority 4 further directs CLA to take appropriate action, including
litigation, to correct any abuse, neglect, or rights violations involving ADX prisoners.
500. As of June 15, 2015, CLA has received requests for representation from or
on behalf of six current or former ADX prisoners. Five of those prisoners, James Cole,
William Harris, David Hearne, William Sablan, and James Van Noy have personally
requested DLC’s assistance. The mother of prisoner Jonathan Francisco requested
assistance on his behalf, as his attorney in fact.
501. Each request for representation indicates that the Constituent has a
significant mental illness or emotional impairment and calls upon CLA to take action to
ensure these prisoners receive necessary and appropriate mental health treatment.
502. CLA has established a grievance procedure for Constituents and
prospective Constituents, which allows individuals with mental illness and family
members of such individuals to assure themselves that CLA and the PAIMI Program are
operating in compliance with the provisions of the PAIMI Act. The Legal Services
Committee of CLA’s governing board makes the final decision on Constituent
503. CLA is sufficiently identified with its Constituents and subject to their
influence, which is demonstrated by CLA’s actions, after receiving reports of abuse,
neglect, and rights violations at ADX. CLA adopted a new PAIMI Program Priority by
joint action of the PAIMI Advisory Council and governing board to address the reports of
abuse, neglect, and rights violations occurring at ADX. CLA has allocated its limited
resources, both personnel and financial-using only nonfederal funds, to investigate and
file this lawsuit to stop the abuse, neglect, and rights violations experienced by all PAIMI
eligible ADX prisoners. CLA staff traveled from Denver to Florence, Colorado, spending
two days interviewing Constituents at the ADX. CLA staff have also spent numerous
hours reviewing the pleadings in the Cunningham and Vega cases; attending partner
conferences where prisoner complaints and case strategy are discussed; attending
numerous settlement conferences negotiating policy changes and settlement terms;
reviewing prisoner letters reporting or complaining about ongoing abuse, neglect, and
rights violations at ADX; reviewing media reports about ADX’s treatment of prisoners
with significant mental illness or emotional impairment; conducting legal research; and
drafting portions of the First and Second Amended Complaints.
504. When CLA’s Constituents are abused, neglected, and their Constitutional
right to receive necessary and appropriate mental health treatment is violated, CLA has
the authority to pursue administrative, legal, and other appropriate remedies to ensure
the protection of these vulnerable individuals. This lawsuit seeks to remedy the abuse,
neglect, and rights violations inflicted on CLA’s Constituents at the ADX facility and
elsewhere by agents of the U.S. Bureau of Prisons. Specifically CLA’s authority to sue
the U.S. Bureau of Prisons for the relief sought is conferred by federal law. See 42
U.S.C. §10804(c); 42 U.S.C. §10805(a)(1)(A) & (B); and 42 U.S.C. §10807.
505. CLA is not required to exhaust the Bureau of Prisons “Administrative
Remedies Program” (ARP) under the PLRA, 42 U.S.C. §1997e(a). CLA has met its
exhaustion burden concerning administrative remedies, under 42 U.S.C. §10807, based
on the following facts: (1) Administrative remedies are not appropriate in this case,
because there are no administrative remedies available. The U.S. Bureau of Prison’s
“Administrative Remedies Program” prohibits anyone from submitting a request or
appeal on a prisoners’ behalf, see 28 C.F.R § 542.16; (2) CLA is exempt from the
exhaustion requirement because this legal action is intended to prevent or eliminate
imminent serious harm to ADX prisoners with mental illness; and (3) Requiring CLA to
seek administrative remedies at this time (three years after the initial complaint was
filed), is not appropriate and would most likely be a futile exercise. The abuse, neglect,
and rights violations inflicted on ADX prisoners with mental illness has not abated since
the filing of the Cunningham and Vega complaints, some three years ago. Given the
fact that the filing of a lawsuit has not caused Defendant to correct all deficient practices
at ADX, no administrative action by CLA is likely to change this picture. Also, the current
posture of the Cunningham case leads CLA to believe there will be lengthy pretrial
delays while class certification, settlement talks, and discovery proceed. Thus CLA has
determined this lawsuit will not be resolved within a reasonable time, when the
reasonableness of delay is measured by the ongoing suffering of ADX prisoners with
mental illness. Requiring CLA to make an administrative remedies request prior to filing
this lawsuit would unnecessarily delay the ultimate disposition of this case causing ADX
prisoners with mental illness to endure more suffering.
506. CLA has the authority and standing to represent all inmates at ADX with
significant mental illness or emotional impairment, even those who have not requested
representation by CLA, since CLA is not using its federal allotment to provide
representation to any ADX constituents, in accordance with 42 U.S.C. §10804(c); 42
U.S.C. §10805(a)(1)(A) & (B); and 42 U.S.C. §10807.
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