United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division
BRIAN MAST, MICHAEL WOODS, EUGENE WELLS on their own behalf and on behalf of a class of those similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
J. DAVID DONAHUE in his official capacity as Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Correction, CRAIG HANKS in his official capacity as Superintendent of the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility, Defendants.
Patrick Hanlon United States District Judge
March 18, 2019, the parties filed a Stipulation to Terminate
the Private Settlement Agreement Following Notice to the
Class and Approval by the Court (“the Stipulated
Agreement”). On June 20, 2019, the Court conducted a
fairness hearing, as required under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 23(e). For the reasons that follow, the Court finds
that the Stipulated Agreement is fair, reasonable, and
adequate, and approves the termination of
the Private Settlement Agreement. Dkt. .
Facts and Background
are a class of prisoners who were housed in the Secured
Housing Unit (“SHU”) at the Wabash Valley
Correctional Facility (“Wabash Valley”). Their
complaint sought to “[e]njoin defendants from housing
mentally ill prisoners in the SHU under the conditions
described in this Complaint.” Dkt. 1 at 14.
The Mast Agreement
January 30, 2007, the parties filed their Private Settlement
Agreement (“Mast Agreement”), dkt. 75-1,
which the Court found to be fair, reasonable, and adequate
under Rule 23, dkt. 104. The Mast Agreement
prohibits, among other things, seriously mentally ill
prisoners from being housed in the SHU (now called the
Secured Confinement Unit “SCU”) at Wabash Valley.
Seedkt. 75-1 at 2-3 (¶¶ 7-9, 11).
Mast Agreement defines “seriously mentally
ill” as: (1) prisoners who have a current diagnosis, or
evidence, of any Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV
(DSM-IV) Axis I diagnosis or who are receiving treatment for
such a diagnosis; or (2) prisoners who have been diagnosed
with a mental disorder that is worsened by confinement in the
SCU. Id. at ¶ 10.
December 31, 2009, the case was dismissed without prejudice,
subject to reinstatement by Plaintiffs or class members
pursuant to the Mast Agreement. Dkt. 133. Since
being dismissed, the Mast Agreement has remained in
full force and effect.
The IPAS Agreement
2008, the Indiana Protection and Advocacy Services Commission
sued the Indiana Department of Correction (“DOC”)
alleging that the continued confinement of mentally ill
prisoners in segregation and segregation-like settings
without appropriate mental health care and treatment violated
prisoners' constitutional rights. Ind. Prot. and
Advocacy Servs. Comm'n, et al. v. Comm'r, Ind.
Dep't of Corr., 1:08-cv-1317 (S.D. Ind.)
(hereinafter “IPAS”). Following a bench trial,
the Court concluded that the “Plaintiffs have prevailed
as to their Eighth Amendment Claim.” IPAS,
dkt. 279 at 36.
Court did not enter final judgment. Rather, in 2016, the
parties in IPAS entered into a private settlement
agreement (the “IPAS Agreement”),
id., dkt. 496, which the Court found to be fair,
reasonable, and adequate, id., dkt. 508.
definition of “seriously mentally ill” in the
IPAS Agreement is different from the definition used
in the Mast Agreement as it does not include every
Axis I DMS-IV diagnosis. Id., dkt. 496.
IPAS Agreement prohibits housing seriously mentally
ill prisoners from being housed in segregation/restrictive
housing (including protective custody) if they are known to
be seriously mentally ill for more than thirty days.
Id., (¶¶ 29-30). Additionally, the IPAS
Agreement requires the DOC to remove prisoners from
segregation/restrictive housing (including protective
custody) if they are found to be or become seriously mentally
ill subsequent to such housing. Id. There are two
exceptions to this for prisoners who: (1) are deemed too
dangerous to move out of the segregation units, or (2) desire
to stay in the segregation units. Id. (¶¶
32-33). The plaintiffs can reinstate the case if they believe
that the DOC is not complying with terms in the IPAS
IPAS Agreement was scheduled to expire on March 25,
2019. Id. On March 18, 2019, the parties stipulated
to extend the IPAS Agreement to the later of: a) one
year from the date of the Mast Agreement's
termination; or b) the date this Court prevents the Mast
Agreement from terminating. IPAS, dkt. 649.