United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, New Albany Division
TABITHA GENTRY, VINCENT MINTON, MICHAEL HERRON, ADAM WALKER, BRIAN BURGESS, ANNA CHASTAIN, and JANELLE SOUTH, on their own behalf and on behalf of those similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
FLOYD COUNTY, INDIANA, DARRELL MILLS, Individually and in his capacity as Floyd County Sheriff, TIFFANY FRANS, Individually, OFFICER ATHERTON, Individually, RYAN RAINEY, Individually, and OFFICERS JOHN/JANE DOE, Individually, Defendants
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
TABITHA GENTRY, VINCENT MINTON, MICHAEL HERRON, ADAM WALKER,
BRIAN BURGESS, ANNA CHASTAIN, JANELLE SOUTH, Plaintiffs:
Daniel J. Canon, CLAY DANIEL WALTON & ADAMS, Louisville, KY;
Theodore Wendover Walton, CLAY FREDERICK ADAMS PLLC,
Louisville, KY; Laura Elizabeth Landenwich, CLAY DANIEL
WALTON & ADAMS PLC, Louisville, KY.
FLOYD COUNTY, INDIANA, Defendant: R. Jeffrey Lowe,
KIGHTLINGER & GRAY, LLP-New Albany, New Albany, IN; Richard
R. Fox, LAW OFFICES OF RICHARD R. FOX, New Albany, IN.
DARRELL MILLS, Individually, and in his capacity as Floyd
County Sheriff, TIFFANY FRANS, Individually, OFFICER
ATHERTON, Individualy, RYAN RAINEY, Individually, JOHN/JANE
DOE, Individually, Defendants: R. Jeffrey Lowe, KIGHTLINGER &
GRAY, LLP-New Albany, New Albany, IN.
ON PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO CERTIFY CLASS
L. YOUNG, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Tabitha Gentry, Vincent Minton, Michael Herron, Adam Walker,
Brian Burgess, Anna Chastain, and Janelle South, are a group
of detainees who were housed in padded isolation cells of the
Floyd County Jail in conditions they claim were
unconstitutional. Before the court is Plaintiffs' Motion
for Class Certification. For the reasons that follow,
Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification is GRANTED.
2010, the Floyd County Sheriff's Department issued a
policy statement entitled " Combative Subjects
Practices." (Filing No. 49-3, Combative Subjects
Policy). As the name of the Policy suggests, the Policy
covers the best practices for Floyd County Jail Personnel to
deal with " combative and potentially suicidal
subjects" entering the Jail. ( Id. ). The
Policy leaves the determination of who falls within the
Policy to the discretion of Jail Personnel, and grants them
the authority to take unruly detainees to a padded cell,
strip them of their clothes, and replace their clothes with a
" protective smock." ( Id. ). In
determining whether a subject is unruly, the Policy instructs
staff to use a " temperature test" :
Supervisors or medical staff that deem a subject unstable by
means of intoxications [sic], general threating [sic]
behavior, have the ability to take each incident and conduct
a " temperature" test to decided [sic] what the
best course of action is to protect all parties. This "
temperature" test to decided [sic] what the best course
of action is to protect all parties. This "
temperature" test includes the subject's demeanor,
attitude, actions, intoxication, and a number of other
officer observations that would allow him to make this
( Id. ).
who fail the temperature test are placed into one of two
padded isolation cells, referred to as " PD-1" and
" PD-2." (Filing No. 44-1, Deposition of Lt. Andrew
Sands at 90-92). These cells consist of four
walls; there is no bench on which to sit. ( See
Filing No. 52, Plaintiffs' Ex. 5 (videotape of Plaintiffs
in one of the cells)). Once inside a padded cell, detainees
are stripped of their clothing (sometimes forcibly) and given
a one-size-fits-all protective (i.e., suicide prevention)
smock. In addition, they are deprived of mattresses,
blankets, and personal hygiene products because, according to
Lt. Andrew Sands, such items can be used as weapons. (Sands
Dep. at 125-29; see also id. at 230 ("
Q: So anytime someone refuses orders, you view them as a
threat to use their clothing as a weapon against officers? A:
Among other reasons, yes." )). Detainees remain in the
padded cell until Jail Personnel determine, in their
judgment, that the detainees will behave. ( Id. at
103-04 (testifying that " if an inmate was a behavioral
problem, we may tell them, " Okay. Let's reevaluate
this in a couple hours [until] you can prove to us that
you're going to follow our rules and be respectful . . .
Plaintiffs herein were not placed in a padded cell because of
a risk of suicide. Instead, Plaintiffs were placed (sometimes
forcibly carried) in a padded cell because they failed the
temperature test by engaging in bad behavior during the
booking process, such as engaging in verbal arguments with
Jail Personnel. ( See, e.g., Filing No. 1, Compl.
¶ 47). In addition to being stripped of their clothing,
Plaintiffs allege they were treated without dignity or
respect. Some had to urinate in a floor drain ( Id.
¶ ¶ 62, 75, 84, 106, 122, 136); some were denied
their medications ( id. ¶ ¶ 110, 132);
some were pepper sprayed ( id. ¶ ¶ 56,
115); and some were hit with a taser ( id. ¶
¶ 72, 101).
Plaintiffs allege that the Jail's Policy and unwritten
practice of " stripping out"  unruly subjects
violates the Fourth Amendment's right to privacy and
prohibition against excessive force; the Eighth
Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual
punishment; and the Fourteenth Amendment's right to
substantive and procedural due process. Plaintiffs seek to
certify the following class for liability issues only
pursuant to Rule 23(c)(4):
All inmates confined from June 12, 2013 to present in the
Floyd County Jail who were not on a suicide watch, but were
housed in a padded cell where they were deprived of clothing,
bedding, and hygiene products.
addition, Plaintiff's propose the following subclass:
Those class members who were subjected to weapons deployment
while confined and secured in the padded cells.
Rule 23 Requirements
action suits are governed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
23. A party seeking class certification bears the burden of
establishing that certification is appropriate. Retired
Chicago Police Ass'n v. City of Chicago, 7 F.3d 584,
596 (7th Cir. 1993). The decision whether to grant or deny a
motion for class certification lies within the broad
discretion of the trial court. Id.
prescribes a two-step analysis to determine whether class
certification is appropriate. First, a plaintiff must satisfy
all four requirements of Rule 23(a): (1) numerosity; (2)
commonality; (3) typicality; and (4) adequacy of
representation. Clark v. Experian Info. Sols., Inc.,
256 Fed.Appx. 818, 821 (7th Cir. 2007); Williams v.
Chartwell Fin. Servs., Ltd., 204 F.3d 748, 760 (7th Cir.
2000). The failure to meet any one of these requirements
precludes certification of a class. Retired Chicago
Police Ass'n, 7 F.3d at 596. Second, the action must
also satisfy one of the conditions of Rule 23(b).
Clark, 256 Fed.Appx. at 821; Williams, 204
F.3d at 760. Plaintiffs seek certification under Rule
23(b)(3), which permits class certification if "
questions of law or fact common to class ...