109 F.R.D. 609 (S.D.N.Y. 1986), 85 Civ. 5237 (LLS), Alston v. Coughlin

Docket Nº85 Civ. 5237 (LLS).
Citation109 F.R.D. 609
Opinion JudgeSTANTON, District Judge.
Party NameOtis ALSTON, Ernest Icesom and James McGourty, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs, v. Thomas A. COUGHLIN, III, Commissioner of the New York State Department of Correctional Services, and Theodore Reid, Superintendent of Fishkill Correctional Facility, in their official capacities, Defendants.
AttorneyPrisoners' Legal Services of N.Y., Poughkeepsie, N.Y., for plaintiffs; Stephen M. Latimer, David C. Leven, of counsel. Robert Abrams, Atty. Gen. of N.Y., New York City, for defendants; Barbara B. Butler, Tarquin J. Bromley, Frank J. Wenick, Asst. Attys. Gen., of counsel. Rowley, Forrest and O'Don...
Case DateFebruary 27, 1986
CourtUnited States District Courts, 2nd Circuit, Southern District of New York

Page 609

109 F.R.D. 609 (S.D.N.Y. 1986)

Otis ALSTON, Ernest Icesom and James McGourty, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,

v.

Thomas A. COUGHLIN, III, Commissioner of the New York State Department of Correctional Services, and Theodore Reid, Superintendent of Fishkill Correctional Facility, in their official capacities, Defendants.

No. 85 Civ. 5237 (LLS).

United States District Court, S.D. New York.

February 27, 1986

Prison inmates brought action claiming violations of constitutional rights due to chronic overcrowding. Inmates moved for class certification and union of security and law enforcement employees moved to intervene. The District Court, Stanton, J., held that: (1) certification of class was justified, and (2) union was not entitled to intervene.

Ordered accordingly.

Page 610

Prisoners' Legal Services of N.Y., Poughkeepsie, N.Y., for plaintiffs; Stephen M. Latimer, David C. Leven, of counsel.

Robert Abrams, Atty. Gen. of N.Y., New York City, for defendants; Barbara B. Butler, Tarquin J. Bromley, Frank J. Wenick, Asst. Attys. Gen., of counsel.

Rowley, Forrest and O'Donnell, P.C., Albany, N.Y., for proposed intervenors; Mark T. Walsh, Jr., of counsel.

STANTON, District Judge.

The plaintiffs in this action, all of the inmates at Fishkill Correctional Facility (" Fishkill" ), sue on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claiming violations of their rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. They allege that chronic overcrowding at Fishkill results in, among other things, regular assaults and thefts; an undue risk of injury from fire; and inadequate food service, sanitary facilities, educational activities, legal resources, recreation facilities, and visitation privileges. The plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief.

The case is before the court on plaintiffs' motion pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 23 for an order certifying a class of " all inmates who presently are or will in the future be incarcerated in Fishkill Correctional Facility," and on the motion of the New York State Inspection, Security and Law Enforcement

Page 611

Employees, District 82, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO (" District 82" ) pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 24 for an order allowing it to intervene in the action. For the reasons set forth below the plaintiffs' motion for class certification is granted, and District 82's motion to intervene is denied.

Class Certification

A suit must meet the four requirements set forth in Rule 23(a) and must also fall within one of the subsections of Rule 23(b) to be maintainable as a class action. Eisen v. Carlisle & Jacqueline, 417 U.S. 156, 163, 94 S.Ct. 2140, 2145-46, 40 L.Ed.2d 732 (1974); Gianna Enterprises v. Miss World (Jersey) Ltd., 551 F.Supp. 1348, 1355 (S.D.N.Y.1982). The plaintiffs correctly contend that their action meets the numerosity, commonality, typicality and adequate representation prerequisites of Rule 23(a) and the Rule 23(b) requirement that " the party opposing the class has acted or refused to act on grounds generally applicable to the class."

The defendants do not contest that the plaintiffs' suit meets the requirements of Rule 23. Rather they argue that plaintiffs' proposed class should not be certified because of the asserted " judicial policy" of denying class certification when " plaintiffs seek to enjoin the administrative practices or policies of a public agency." (Defendants' Memorandum at 2-3.) They contend that under such circumstances certification is unnecessary. ( Id. at 7.)

The Second Circuit has held that when a plaintiff seeks " declaratory or injunctive relief against state officials on the ground of unconstitutionality of a statute or administrative practice" a district court may deny class certification. Galvan v. Levine, 490 F.2d 1255, 1261 (2d Cir.1973), cert. denied, 417 U.S. 936, 94 S.Ct. 2652, 41 L.Ed.2d 240 (1974); see also McKenna v. Peekskill Housing Authority, 573 F.Supp. 976, 981 (S.D.N.Y.1983); Denenberg v. Blum, 93 F.R.D. 131, 133-134 (S.D.N.Y.1982). Such a denial is, however, by no means mandatory. Classes of prisoners alleging constitutional infirmities in prison conditions or administrative practices have often been certified in this circuit. See, e.g., Jones-Bey v. Caso, 535 F.2d 1360 (2d Cir.1976); Arrango v. Ward, 103 F.R.D. 638 (S.D.N.Y.1984); Kozlowski v. Coughlin, 539 F.Supp. 852, 854-855 (S.D.N.Y.1982); Marcera v. Chinlund, 91 F.R.D. 579, 585 (W.D.N.Y.1982); Powell v. Ward, 487 F.Supp. 917, 922 (S.D.N.Y.1980), modified on other grounds and aff'd, 643 F.2d 924 (2d Cir.1981), cert. denied, 454 U.S. 832, 102 S.Ct. 131, 70 L.Ed.2d 111 (1981); Diaz v. Ward, 437 F.Supp. 678, 691 (S.D.N.Y.1977); Forts v. Coughlin, 426 F.Supp. 464, 465 (S.D.N.Y.1977); Tunin v. Ward, 78 F.R.D. 59, 66 (S.D.N.Y.1977); Monroe v. Bombard, 422 F.Supp. 211, 218-219 (S.D.N.Y.1976); Cicero v. Olgiati, 410...

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14 practice notes
  • 193 F.R.D. 175 (S.D.N.Y. 2000), 99 CIV 11693 WHP, Hirschfeld v. Stone
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 2nd Circuit United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • May 9, 2000
    ...certification could avert the substantial possibility of the litigation becoming moot prior to the decision" ); Alston v. Coughlin, 109 F.R.D. 609, 612 (S.D.N.Y.1986) ( " [t]he plaintiff's interest in averting the possibility of the action becoming moot, with the concomitant inter......
  • 187 F.R.D. 50 (E.D.N.Y. 1999), CV-98-3386-(CPS), Monaco v. Stone
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 2nd Circuit United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • March 12, 1999
    ...practice," a district court may deny class certification. Galvan v. Levine, 490 F.2d 1255, 1261 (2d Cir.1973); Alston v. Coughlin, 109 F.R.D. 609, 610 (S.D.N.Y.1986). Where the relief sought is solely prohibitory, class certification may be an unnecessary and " empty formality&quo......
  • 210 F.R.D. 27 (E.D.N.Y. 2002), Civ. A. 99-CV-8418, Alexander A. ex rel. Barr v. Novello
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 2nd Circuit United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • September 12, 2002
    ...relief to reform a continuing policy or practice) (citing Monaco v. Stone, 187 F.R.D. 50, 63 (E.D.N.Y.1999); Alston v. Coughlin, 109 F.R.D. 609, 612 (S.D.N.Y.1986); Jane B., 117 F.R.D. at 72; Ashe v. Board of Elections, 124 F.R.D. 45, 51 Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (1) Plaintiffs ar......
  • 783 F.Supp. 789 (S.D.N.Y. 1992), 91 Civ. 1792, Clarkson v. Coughlin
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 2nd Circuit United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • February 3, 1992
    ...with the concomitant interest in judicial economy, makes class certification ... more than an empty formality." Alston v. Coughlin, 109 F.R.D. 609, 612 (S.D.N.Y.1986); see also Dean, 107 F.R.D. at 332 (noting the "fluid composition" of prison populations in granting class cer......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
14 cases
  • 193 F.R.D. 175 (S.D.N.Y. 2000), 99 CIV 11693 WHP, Hirschfeld v. Stone
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 2nd Circuit United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • May 9, 2000
    ...certification could avert the substantial possibility of the litigation becoming moot prior to the decision" ); Alston v. Coughlin, 109 F.R.D. 609, 612 (S.D.N.Y.1986) ( " [t]he plaintiff's interest in averting the possibility of the action becoming moot, with the concomitant inter......
  • 187 F.R.D. 50 (E.D.N.Y. 1999), CV-98-3386-(CPS), Monaco v. Stone
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 2nd Circuit United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • March 12, 1999
    ...practice," a district court may deny class certification. Galvan v. Levine, 490 F.2d 1255, 1261 (2d Cir.1973); Alston v. Coughlin, 109 F.R.D. 609, 610 (S.D.N.Y.1986). Where the relief sought is solely prohibitory, class certification may be an unnecessary and " empty formality&quo......
  • 210 F.R.D. 27 (E.D.N.Y. 2002), Civ. A. 99-CV-8418, Alexander A. ex rel. Barr v. Novello
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 2nd Circuit United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • September 12, 2002
    ...relief to reform a continuing policy or practice) (citing Monaco v. Stone, 187 F.R.D. 50, 63 (E.D.N.Y.1999); Alston v. Coughlin, 109 F.R.D. 609, 612 (S.D.N.Y.1986); Jane B., 117 F.R.D. at 72; Ashe v. Board of Elections, 124 F.R.D. 45, 51 Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (1) Plaintiffs ar......
  • 783 F.Supp. 789 (S.D.N.Y. 1992), 91 Civ. 1792, Clarkson v. Coughlin
    • United States
    • Federal Cases United States District Courts 2nd Circuit United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • February 3, 1992
    ...with the concomitant interest in judicial economy, makes class certification ... more than an empty formality." Alston v. Coughlin, 109 F.R.D. 609, 612 (S.D.N.Y.1986); see also Dean, 107 F.R.D. at 332 (noting the "fluid composition" of prison populations in granting class cer......
  • Request a trial to view additional results