896 F.Supp. 697 (E.D.Mich. 1995), 80-73581, Hadix v. Johnson

Docket Nº:80-73581.
Citation:896 F.Supp. 697
Party Name:Everett HADIX, et al., Plaintiffs, v. Perry JOHNSON, et al., Defendants.
Case Date:March 14, 1995
Court:United States District Courts, 6th Circuit, Eastern District of Michigan
 
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Page 697

896 F.Supp. 697 (E.D.Mich. 1995)

Everett HADIX, et al., Plaintiffs,

v.

Perry JOHNSON, et al., Defendants.

No. 80-73581.

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division.

March 14, 1995

Page 698

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 699

Michael J. Barnhart, Detroit, MI, for plaintiffs.

David G. Edick, Kim G. Harris, Asst. Mich. Attys. Gen., Lansing, MI, for defendants.

OPINION

FEIKENS, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

The case of Mary Glover, et al. v. Perry Johnson, et al., Civil Action No. 77-71229 (ultimately a class action), began on May 19, 1977. The case of Everett Hadix, et al. v. Perry Johnson, et al., as captioned above (ultimately a class action), began on September 18, 1980.

In all of the years since these cases were filed until now, the parties have sought this court's active involvement. See Glover v. Johnson, 478 F.Supp. 1075 (E.D.Mich.1979); 510 F.Supp. 1019 (E.D.Mich.1981); 855 F.2d 277 (6th Cir. 1988); 721 F.Supp. 808 (E.D.Mich.1989); and 934 F.2d 703 (6th Cir. 1991). See Hadix v. Johnson, 694 F.Supp. 259 (E.D.Mich.1988); aff'd, 871 F.2d 1087, 1989 WL 27984 (6th Cir. 1989); 712 F.Supp. 550 (E.D.Mich.1989); aff'd in part and rev'd in part, vacated, in part, remanded, sub nom., Knop v. Johnson, 977 F.2d 996 (6th Cir. 1992); cert. denied, Knop v. McGinnis, 507 U.S. 973, 113 S.Ct. 1415, 122 L.Ed.2d 786 (1993).

The key result of the several actions in Glover, both at the level of this court's involvement and in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, was a 1981 Final Order stemming from a negotiated settlement between the parties and a resultant Remedial Plan dated December 6, 1991. See Glover, 934 F.2d at 708. On a parallel track, the various actions outlined in Hadix culminated in an Order, filed May 13, 1985, accepting the Consent Judgment (the " Hadix Consent Decree" or the "Decree," filed February 13, 1985). An Out-of-Cell Activity Plan (or the "plan"), dated November 9, 1985, was submitted to the court as required under the Consent Decree.

This common introduction to these two cases results from parallel actions initiated by defendant Michigan Department of Corrections (or "Department of Corrections") to modify the Remedial Plan and the Plan for Vocational Programs and Work Pass, in Glover, and the 1985 Out-of-Cell Activity Plan mandated by the Hadix Consent Decree, in Hadix.

While in their motion to modify the Out-of-Cell Activity Provision of the Consent Decree in Hadix, defendants rely on Rufo v. Inmates of Suffolk County Jail, 502 U.S. 367, 112 S.Ct. 748, 116 L.Ed.2d 867 (1992), defendants in Glover apply the Rufo principles in seeking modification of the Remedial Plan. Before discussing and deciding the respective motions filed in these two cases, it is important to point out the lengthy and arduous work which these cases have required in

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order to secure compliance with the Consent Decree and the Out-of-Cell Activity Plan in Hadix, and the negotiated settlement and Remedial Plan in Glover. Even now, after years of attempted compliance, the parties are at odds as to whether the goals have been achieved.

It may be indigenous to the nature of this litigation that it is seemingly endless. For example, with the exception of Michael Barnhart, counsel now for both plaintiff classes, all of the numerous attorneys who have represented the plaintiff classes or have been on the staff of the Attorney General are no longer in the cases. The office of Director of the Department of Corrections has had a number of individuals, beginning with Perry Johnson, and now Kenneth McGinnis. The population of the prisons is under constant change and, thus, the inmates who arrive at the prison facilities and are represented in both class actions are unacquainted with the past history of these cases, and see their confinement problems as new matters. Finality, in these cases is, accordingly, elusive--even though it is highly desired.

What is striking, too, is the argument that is now marshalled in favor of modification. Curiously, defendant Department of Corrections has argued that public opinion with regard to the "rights" of prisoners has changed.

This court is necessarily concerned with the status of compliance with the various orders, plans, the negotiated settlement and Consent Decree mandates, should this court's involvement be terminated.

These are matters that are at the nerve center of these motions seeking modifications and termination; and they must be dealt with, if possible, in each of the respective opinions and decisions.

Before me is Defendants' Motion Seeking Modification of the 1985 Out-of-Cell Activity Provision of the Hadix Consent Decree pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(5) and (6). 1

II. BACKGROUND

In 1980, a class of inmates housed at the State Prison of Southern Michigan-Central Complex ("SPSM-CC" or Central Complex) filed a complaint, under 42 U.S.C.A. § 1983, alleging that their constitutional rights had been violated. Five years after the complaint was filed, the parties agreed to the entry of a Consent Decree. The scope of the Decree was defined in one of the introductory paragraphs: "The provisions contained herein are intended by the parties to assure the constitutionality of the conditions under which prisoners are incarcerated at SPSM-CC." (Hadix Consent Decree at ¶ 3.) Section IV.H.2 of the Decree required the development and implementation of a plan concerning out-of-cell activity for prisoners. Specifically, the provision required:

Within 180 days from the entry of the Judgment in this matter, the Department will submit a plan which will provide for meaningful out-of-cell activity. It is recognized that no particular activity is itself required. The objective of the plan is to provide meaningful activity outside of cells including access to general and law libraries, education, industrial or other work activity, religious activity, other group activities, etc. For the activities to be provided, there shall be reasonably adequate staffing, facilities, and equipment. The plan shall provide access to these various activities such that at the facility 75% of all inmates may be active out of their cells, including exercise, meal, shower, and

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law library time no fewer than seven hours daily on weekdays and five hours daily on weekends. The plan shall provide for full and continuing implementation within an additional 180 days after its approval or adoption.

(Hadix Consent Decree at 26.) (Emphasis added.) In November 1985, defendants submitted an Out-of-Cell Activity Plan to which plaintiffs did not object. Defendants now seek to modify that plan by substitution of an alternative plan. 2 Because I conclude that there has been no significant factual or legal change to warrant modification, defendants' motion is denied.

III. RUFO ANALYSIS

A. In General.

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(5) provides that a party may obtain relief from a court order when "it is no longer equitable that the judgment should have prospective application." Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(6) provides that a party may obtain relief from a court order for "any other reason justifying relief from the operation of judgment." In Rufo v. Inmates of Suffolk County Jail, 502 U.S. 367, 112 S.Ct. 748, 116 L.Ed.2d 867 (1992), the Supreme Court adopted a test for district courts to utilize when considering requests to modify, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b), consent decrees stemming from institutional reform litigation. Under the Rufo test, defendants, as the party seeking modification of the Consent Decree, bear the burden of establishing that a significant change in circumstances warrants revision of the Decree. If defendants meet this standard, the court will consider whether defendants' proposed modification is suitably tailored to the changed circumstances. Id. at 383, 112 S.Ct. at 759-60.

Defendants may meet their initial burden by showing a significant change in either factual conditions or in the law which makes compliance with the Decree substantially more onerous. Id. at 384, 112 S.Ct. at 760. Modification of the Decree is also appropriate if defendants show that the Decree is unworkable because of unforeseen obstacles or when...

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