On August 7, 2014, Judge Lawrence Karlton of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California granted preliminary approval of a settlement of the Hecker v. CDCR complex class action . The settlement was the result of years of litigation and negotiations that began in late 2012 that were led by Michael Bien and Blake Thompson of RBGG and co-counsel Claudia Center of the ACLU Foundation.
The case involves a large class of tens of thousands of individuals, and complex issues regarding the overlap between this case and the parallel class action of Coleman v. Brown. The settlement agreement offers a successful resolution to the substantive issues raised in the case while avoiding the substantial costs that future litigation in this case would have entailed for all parties.
The case was originally brought in 2005 by seventeen prisoners with psychiatric disabilities on behalf of a class of similarly situated prisoners, alleging violations of their rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
Under the Settlement Agreement filed with the Court on August 5, 2014, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has agreed to implement revised policies to ensure that prisoners with psychiatric disabilities will not be unlawfully excluded from prison programs and services or be discriminated against because of their disabilities. The Settlement Agreement also provides that the implementation of these revised policies will be monitored by the Special Master appointed by the Court in Coleman v. Brown.
Notice of the settlement will be posted for potential class members within 30 days of the Court’s Order. Prisoners will then have 60 days to provide the Court with any comments about the settlement. The Court has scheduled a final approval hearing for the settlement on December 5, 2014.
Below are links to the relevant Court documents:
Court’s August 7, 2014 Order in Hecker
Joint Motion for Preliminary Approval of Settlement
Brief in Support of Joint Motion