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Braggs v. Dunn

United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division

September 6, 2017

EDWARD BRAGGS, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
JEFFERSON S. DUNN, in his official capacity as Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Corrections,, Defendants.

          PHASE 2A INVOLUNTARY MEDICATION CONSENT DECREE

          MYRON H. THOMPSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter having come before the court on the Joint Motion for Approval of the Parties' Settlement Agreement and Entry of Stipulated Order; the court having ordered the provision of adequate notice to members of the plaintiff class of the terms of this order, having received and considered the written objections from members of the plaintiff class related to the contents of this order, having held a fairness hearing on August 23, 2017, having reviewed the filings, documents, orders and/or admissible evidence which are currently filed of record with the court, and having considered the arguments of counsel for the parties and the other premises herein; and for the reasons to be set forth in a separate opinion, it is ORDERED, ADJUDGED, and DECREED as follows:

         1. Notice Pursuant to Rule 23(e)(1).

         Reasonable notice of the proposed settlement was provided to the plaintiff class in the manner directed by the court by separate order. Members of the plaintiff class were then afforded an opportunity to submit comments and objections to the court concerning the proposed settlement. A fairness hearing pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(e)(2) was held on August 23, 2017, at which the court heard arguments and testimony.

         2. Rule 23(e)(2) Findings.

         The court, having considered the arguments and testimony at the hearing, the comments submitted by class members, and the entire record in this case, concludes that the settlement is fair, reasonable, and adequate.

         3. Revised Involuntary Medication Policy.

         Pursuant to the terms and conditions of this order and the process identified herein, the Alabama Department of Corrections ("ADOC") will implement a revised policy and practice regarding the involuntary medication of inmates with mental illnesses. The court finds the revisions in the applicable Administrative Regulation (“AR”) No. 621, if fully implemented, extend no further than necessary to resolve the violations of federal due process rights alleged by Quang Bui, the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program (“ADAP”), and the plaintiff class in the third cause of action in the fifth amended complaint, including, but not limited to, plaintiffs' allegations that:

a. The ADOC failed to afford due process to those inmates who were subject to involuntary medication proceedings while in ADOC custody. (See Fifth Amended Complaint (doc. no. 805));
b. The ADOC's prior involuntary medication process “f[e]ll far short of what due process requires” (doc. no. 805, ¶ 4);
c. The ADOC and its mental health vendor allegedly maintained a “policy and practice of medicating mentally ill prisoners against their will without providing due process to determine whether the individuals can be forced to take medication” (doc. no. 805, ¶ 190);
d. “The widespread and pervasive practice is that many prisoners in ADOC custody are denied due process” (doc. no. 805, ¶ 453);
e. The ADOC allegedly violated the “due process rights [of prisoners in its custody] by involuntarily medicating prisoners in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution” (doc. no. 805, ¶ 453);
f. The ADOC's involuntary medication process failed to include the necessary due process protections found to be constitutional in Washington v. Harper, 494 U.S. 210 (1999) (doc. no. 888, at 162-163); and
g. “Plaintiffs Bui, Hartley, Dillard, Terrell, and McCoy's due process rights have been violated by Defendants' policies and practices of providing either constitutionally inadequate due process or no process at all with regard to involuntary medication” (doc. no. 888, p. 164).

         A true and correct copy of the revised Involuntary Medication policy, AR 621, is attached as Exhibit 1 hereto.

         4. Dismissal of Bui's Involuntary Medication Claim.

         Pursuant to the provision in the parties' settlement agreement (doc. no. 1248-1) for the dismissal with prejudice of any and all claims asserted by Bui regarding the involuntary medication policies ...


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