538 F.3d 229 (3rd Cir. 2008), 06-4627, Hubbard v. Taylor

Docket Nº:06-4627.
Citation:538 F.3d 229
Party Name:Gregory HUBBARD; Alvin Phillips; Julian Payne; Curtis Gibbs; Gregory J. Bolling; Leonard Garner; Gregorio Tomas; Desmond Brown; Thellie Chamblee; Spud M. Burns, Jr.; Robert Ward; Christopher Vavala; Kristofer Jackson; Timothy Thomas; Paul C. Woodward; Joseph Michael Creegan, Jr.; Javari Williams; Floyd Hunt; Bryant Charles; Claude Jones; Eddie A. C
Case Date:August 05, 2008
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

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538 F.3d 229 (3rd Cir. 2008)

Gregory HUBBARD; Alvin Phillips; Julian Payne; Curtis Gibbs; Gregory J. Bolling; Leonard Garner; Gregorio Tomas; Desmond Brown; Thellie Chamblee; Spud M. Burns, Jr.; Robert Ward; Christopher Vavala; Kristofer Jackson; Timothy Thomas; Paul C. Woodward; Joseph Michael Creegan, Jr.; Javari Williams; Floyd Hunt; Bryant Charles; Claude Jones; Eddie A. Carter; Theodore Jackson; Andre Murray; Atif Mohammad; Pedro Rivera, Jr.; Andrew P. Blake; Linwood Wilson; William T. Davis; Will T. Graham; Kevin M. Agnew; Noel Santiago; Walter Krause, III; Barry J. Green; Wedus Maddox; Raymond Stevens; James A. Wilson; Matthew Major, Jr.; Percy Osborne; Kevin Ketchum; Samuel Turner Poole, Appellants,


Commissioner Stanley TAYLOR; Warden Raphael Williams; Attorney General M. Jane Brady.

No. 06-4627.

United States Court of Appeals, Third Circuit.

August 5, 2008

Argued Oct. 24, 2007.

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Paul E. Crawford (Argued), Helena C. Rychlicki, Connolly, Bove, Lodge & Hutz, Wilmington, DE, Attorneys for Appellants.

Richard W. Hubbard (Argued), Department of Justice, Wilmington, DE, Attorney for Appellees.

Before: SLOVITER, CHAGARES and HARDIMAN, Circuit Judges.


HARDIMAN, Circuit Judge.

This case comes to us for the second time. In Hubbard v. Taylor, 399 F.3d 150 (3d Cir.2005)(Hubbard I), we held that when pretrial detainees challenge conditions of confinement, their claims must be analyzed under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Because the District Court initially evaluated Plaintiffs' claims under the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, we vacated the order granting summary judgment to Defendants and remanded to the District Court for analysis under the Fourteenth Amendment. Furthermore,

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as the District Court had addressed the merits of Plaintiffs' claims without reaching Defendants' assertions of qualified immunity, we instructed the District Court to resolve the qualified immunity issue first. Hubbard I, 399 F.3d at 167.

On remand, the District Court found that Defendants were entitled to qualified immunity under either prong of the familiar two-step analysis established by the Supreme Court in Saucier v. Katz, 533 U.S. 194, 121 S.Ct. 2151, 150 L.Ed.2d 272 (2001). See Hubbard v. Taylor, 452 F.Supp.2d 533 (D.Del.2006). Plaintiffs filed this timely appeal and jurisdiction lies under 28 U.S.C. § 1291.1


Plaintiffs claim that they were punished in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment when they were “triple-celled," or housed three-to-a-cell, in the West Wing of the Multi-Purpose Criminal Justice Facility in Wilmington, Delaware (commonly known as “Gander Hill" ). The facts of this case are set forth in Judge McKee's comprehensive opinion for the Court in Hubbard I. We assume familiarity with those facts and will not restate them here.

Pursuant to the Supreme Court's decision in Saucier, we must first resolve a “threshold question: Taken in the light most favorable to the party asserting the injury, do the facts alleged show the officer's conduct violated a constitutional right?" 533 U.S. at 201, 121 S.Ct. 2151. If there has been a violation, we proceed to the second step of Saucier, which asks “whether the right was clearly established." 2 Id.


In Hubbard I, we noted that when pretrial detainees challenge their conditions of confinement, we must consider whether there has been a violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. As the Supreme Court stated in Bell v. Wolfish:

In evaluating the constitutionality of conditions or restrictions of pretrial detention that implicate only the protection against deprivation of liberty without due process of law, we think that the proper inquiry is whether those conditions amount to punishment of the detainee. For under the Due Process Clause, a detainee may not be punished prior to an adjudication of guilt in accordance with due process of law.

441 U.S. 520, 535, 99 S.Ct. 1861, 60 L.Ed.2d 447 (1979).

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Accordingly, we must determine whether the conditions imposed upon Plaintiffs at Gander Hill amount to punishment. In making this determination:

A court must decide whether the disability is imposed for the purpose of punishment or whether it is but an incident of some other legitimate governmental purpose. Absent a showing of an expressed intent to punish on the part of the detention facility officials, that determination generally will turn on ‘whether [the disability has] an alternative purpose ... and whether it appears excessive in relation to [that] purpose.’ ...Thus, if a particular condition or restriction of pretrial detention is reasonably related to a legitimate governmental objective, it does not, without more, amount to ‘punishment.’ Conversely, if a restriction or condition is not reasonably related to a legitimate goal-if it is arbitrary or purposeless-a court permissibly may infer that the purpose of the governmental action is punishment that may not constitutionally be inflicted upon detainees qua detainees.

Id. at 538-39, 99 S.Ct. 1861 (citations omitted). The Supreme Court further stated that:

In determining whether restrictions or conditions are reasonably related to the Government's interest in maintaining security and order and operating the institution in a manageable fashion, courts must heed our warning that such considerations are peculiarly within the province and professional expertise of corrections officials, and, in the absence of substantial evidence in the record to indicate that the officials have exaggerated their response to these considerations, courts should ordinarily defer to their expert judgment in such matters.

Id. at 540 n. 23, 99 S.Ct. 1861 (citations omitted). See also Block v. Rutherford, 468 U.S. 576, 584, 104 S.Ct. 3227, 82 L.Ed.2d 438 (1984) (emphasizing the “very limited role that courts should play in the administration of detention facilities" ).

In Union County Jail Inmates v. Di Buono, 713 F.2d 984 (3d Cir.1983), this Court distilled the Supreme Court's teachings in Bell into a two-part test. “[W]e must ask, first, whether any legitimate purposes are served by these conditions, and second, whether these conditions are rationally related to these purposes." Id. at 992.


Before the District Court, Plaintiffs argued that they were triple-celled for the illegitimate purpose of coercing them to enter into plea bargains. Here, however, Plaintiffs rely on “[a]n elementary mathematical calculation" in challenging the legitimacy of triple-celling.

According to Plaintiffs, the East Wing of Gander Hill contains 480 cells designed for two people, which amounts to space for a total of 960 individuals. Noting that “[t]his is the approximate number of pretrial detainees housed three-to-a-cell in the 360 one-person cells of the West Wing (360 X 3 = 1080)," Plaintiffs argue that “the average number of pretrial detainees (about 1000) could have been housed two to a cell in the East Wing without overcrowding." Therefore, because “Gander Hill had ample space to comfortably house pretrial detainees two-to-a-cell in the East Wing and triple cell sentenced prisoners in the West Wing," Plaintiffs contend that they were triple-celled needlessly.

As Defendants counter-and as Plaintiffs concede in their reply brief-this argument was based on the fallacy that there are 480 cells in the East Wing when, in fact, there are only 240 cells. The East

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Wing therefore has insufficient space to house the average number of pretrial detainees at Gander Hill even if they were triple-celled rather than double-celled. In light of the true capacity of the East Wing, we summarily reject Plaintiffs' contention that there was “no need to triple cell pretrial detainees at Gander Hill because there was ample room in the East Wing for the detainees."

Rather, it is clear that Defendants' practice of triple-celling pretrial detainees was a response to the severe overcrowding at Gander Hill. Acknowledging this fact, Plaintiffs note in their Amended Complaint that prisoners and detainees were sometimes housed in the facility's gym, weight room, and booking and receiving area. Furthermore, as we noted in Hubbard I, Gander Hill receives approximately 18,000 admissions per year-a figure over which Defendants have no control. 399 F.3d at 156.

In considering the validity of the governmental interest in managing this overcrowding, we note that in Bell the Supreme Court recognized the government's “legitimate interests that stem from its need to manage the facility in which the individual is detained." 441 U.S. at 540, 99 S.Ct. 1861. Moreover, in Union County, this Court explicitly recognized a county's interest in the “management of [an] overcrowded institution." 713 F.2d at 993. Thus, the District Court correctly concluded that Defendants had a legitimate interest in trying to manage, as best they could, the overcrowded conditions at Gander Hill.3


Having rejected Plaintiffs' “elementary mathematical calculation" and having recognized the validity of Defendants' interest in managing an overcrowded prison, we now consider whether the triple-celling of pretrial detainees is rationally related to this interest. As we noted in Union County, this analysis involves a “further [ ] inquir[y] as to whether these conditions ‘cause inmates to endure such genuine privations and hardship over an extended period of time,’ that the adverse conditions become excessive in relation to the purposes assigned to them." 713 F.2d at 992 (quoting Bell, 441 U.S. at 542, 99 S.Ct. 1861) (alterations omitted).

In conducting this excessiveness analysis, “we do not assay separately...

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