United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division
THOMAS HALE, and JUSTIN WALLS, for themselves and on behalf of themselves and other similarly situated persons, Plaintiffs,
TERRY STOFFEL, in his official capacity, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
THERESA L. SPRINGMANN CHIEF JUDGE
Thomas Hale and Justin Walls, on behalf of themselves and
others similarly situated, bring this class action against
Defendant Terry Stoffel in his official capacity as the
Huntington County Sheriff. The Plaintiffs assert that they
have been denied access to the courts in violation of their
Fourteenth Amendment right to due process and in violation of
Section 12 of Article 1 of the Indiana State Constitution.
(See generally Compl., ECF No. 1.) This matter is
before the Court on the Plaintiffs' Motion to Certify
Class [ECF No. 2], filed on March 21, 2017. The Defendant
responded on May 22, 2017 [ECF No. 23], and the Plaintiffs
replied on October 20, 2017 [ECF No. 32]. For the reasons
stated herein, the Court denies class certification.
time they filed their Complaint, the Plaintiffs were housed
in the Huntington County Jail in Huntington, Indiana. (Compl.
¶ 8.) The Plaintiffs allege that they “have been
unable to pursue or even bring their civil rights,
post-conviction, and habeas corpus claims in court due to the
Huntington County Jail's total lack of available law
library, legal research materials, or professional legal
assistance.” (Id. at ¶ 19.) Specifically,
Plaintiff Walls asserts that he has been unable “to
file and pursue (a) civil rights claims for alleged
unconstitutional conditions of confinement including lack of
hygiene and toiletry items, (b) habeas corpus claims over
unlawful revocation of good time credit and unlawful
disciplinary segregation, and (c) post-conviction claims to
challenge his criminal sentence.” (Id. at
¶ 20.) Plaintiff Hale asserts that he has been unable to
“file and pursue civil rights claims for alleged
unconstitutional conditions of confinement including the lack
of adequate toilet paper and hygiene supplies and the threat
to health and safety presented by mold, poor ventilation,
improper classification of inmates, and overcrowding in the
jail.” (Id. at ¶ 21.) Both Plaintiffs
assert that they requested access to the jail's law
library and resources several times but were denied each
the Plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief and
reasonable attorneys' fees and costs available under 42
U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1988. At issue here, the
Plaintiffs also seek certification of a class related to the
claims set forth in the Complaint.
of a class is proper only if the class meets all of the
requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(a) and one
of the requirements of Rule 23(b). See Fed. R. Civ.
P. 23; Rosario v. Livaditis, 963 F.2d 1013, 1017
(7th Cir. 1992). Rule 23(a) is satisfied if:
(1) the class is so numerous that joinder of all members is
(2) there are questions of law or fact common to the class;
(3) the claims or defenses of the representative parties are
typical of the claims or defenses of the class; and
(4) the representative parties will fairly and adequately
protect the interests of the class.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(a)(1)-(4); Kress v. CCA of Tenn.,
LLC, 694 F.3d 890, 892-93 (7th Cir. 2012). Additionally,
the Seventh Circuit has held that a class must be
sufficiently defined so that the class is identifiable.
All. to End Repression v. Rochford, 565 F.2d 975,
977 (7th Cir. 1977); see also Simer v.
Rios, 661 F.2d 655, 669 (7th Cir. 1981) (“It is
axiomatic that for a class action to be certified, a
‘class' must exist.”); Oshana v.
Coca-Cola Co., 472 F.3d 506, 513 (7th Cir. 2006). If all
of these prerequisites are met, the Court must also find that
at least one of the subsections of Rule 23(b) is satisfied.
As relevant here, Rule 23(b)(2) is satisfied if:
the party opposing the class has acted or refused to act on
grounds that apply generally to the class, so that final
injunctive relief or corresponding declaratory relief is