United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division
Jauston Huerta, Thomas Bolton, Jr., Curtis Gillie, Carl Sherb, Derek Hicks, and Durand Randle, Plaintiffs,
Greg Ewing, et al., Defendants.
Jane Magnus-Stinson, United States District Court Chief Judge
17, 2017, the Court held a hearing on the parties' Joint
Motion to Approve Joint Stipulation and Class Certification,
[Filing No. 37]. Plaintiffs were present by counsel
Michael Sutherlin. Defendant Sheriff Greg Ewing was present
in person and by counsel Craig McKee, David Friedrich, and
Michael Wright. The remaining Defendants were present by
counsel David Friedrich and Michael Wright. The court
reporter was Jean Knepley.
Court outlined its continuing concerns with the Joint Motion
to Approve Joint Stipulation and Class Certification, and
counsel discussed those concerns. Based on that discussion
and on the parties' filings, the Court makes the
Court DENIES IN PART WITH EXPLANATION the Joint Motion to
Approve Stipulation and Class Certification to the extent it
requests approval of the Joint Stipulation. [Filing No.
37.] The parties' statements at the hearing
clarified that they have differing opinions regarding whether
the Joint Stipulation is a consent decree, a private
settlement agreement, or something else altogether. If it
were the former, it must comply with the provisions of the
Prison Litigation Reform Act and it does not. If it were the
latter, then the Court's approval is not necessary or
appropriate. As the parties could not agree on how it should
be treated, the Court will treat it as a reflection of the
parties' agreement as to certain facts, and future plans
with respect to resolution of the issues in this litigation.
The Court, therefore, ACCEPTS the Proposed Joint Stipulation,
[Filing No. 44],  save for the following language:
Plaintiffs' counsel will petition the Court for fees from
time to time, in the course of monitoring the progress of
construction and compliance with the time line. The County
reserves the right to object to any fee applications for any
reason and the Court retains its discretion regarding
approval of fees. The County agrees to pay any fees ordered
by the Court within 30 days of the order. When counsel's
fees exceed the Cap, the County is free to argue that [the]
PLRA rate (or a lower hourly rate) should apply to an award
of plaintiffs' attorney fees.
[Filing No. 44 at 3.] As the Court stated at the
hearing, the parties may privately agree to whatever
arrangement they would like regarding attorneys' fees.
But the Court will not entertain interim fee petitions, nor
order payment of such fees on an interim basis, pursuant to
anything short of a merits adjudication, which has not been
language of the Proposed Joint Stipulation that the Court has
accepted may be used to support Plaintiffs' Motion for
Preliminary Injunction, [Filing No. 12], a future
dispositive motion, or for any other purpose for which a
stipulation may legally be used.
Court GRANTS IN PART the Joint Motion to Approve Joint
Stipulation and Class Certification, [Filing No.
37], to the extent that it seeks class certification,
and likewise GRANTS Plaintiffs' Motion for Class
Certification, [Filing No. 10]. The Court has
reviewed Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification,
[Filing No. 10], along with Defendants' Notice
of Consent to Class Action Certification, [Filing No.
19], and finds that the requirements of Fed. R. Civ.
P. 23 are satisfied here. Specifically, the Court must
find that the putative class satisfies the four prerequisite
set forth in Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(a). If the putative class does
satisfy these prerequisites, the Court must additionally find
that it satisfies the requirements set forth in Fed. R.
Civ. P. 23(b), which vary depending on which of three
different types of class is proposed.
the plaintiffs' burden to prove first that an
identifiable class exists that merits certification under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(a). Oshana v.
Coca-Cola Co., 472 F.3d 506, 513 (7th Cir. 2006). The
four prerequisites under Rule 23(a) are: “(1) [that]
the class is so numerous that joinder of all its members is
impracticable; (2) [that] there are questions of law or fact
common to the class; (3) [that] the claims or defenses of the
representative parties are typical of the claims or defenses
of the class; and (4) [that] the representative parties will
fairly and adequately protect the interests of the
class.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(a). Class
certification is not appropriate unless the named plaintiff
establishes all four prerequisites. Gen. Tel. Co. of the
Southwest v. Falcon, 457 U.S. 147, 156, 102 S.Ct. 2364,
72 L.Ed.2d 740 (1982).
their Motion to Certify, Plaintiffs define the putative class
All individuals in the care and custody of Vigo County,
Indiana, including the current and future inmates who are or
will be incarcerated in the Vigo County Jail and all current
and future individuals who were transported to other county
jails as a result of the overcrowding in the Vigo County
[Filing No. 11 at 1.] The Court finds that
Plaintiffs have met their burden of showing that class