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Fatir v. Redman

United States District Court, D. Delaware

February 3, 2015

AMIR FATIR, Plaintiff,
v.
WALTER REDMAN, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM

GREGORY M. SLEET, District Judge.

On September 22, 2014, the plaintiff Amir Fatir ("Fatir"), an inmate at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center ("VCC") filed a motion to enforce the judgment. (D.I. 152.)

I. BACKGROUND

On October 29, 1976, convicted State inmates and pre-trial detainees held at the Delaware Correctional Center ("DCC") (now known as the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center) in Smyrna, Delaware, filed a lawsuit seeking injunctive relief to alleviate the overcrowded living conditions at the DCC. In the complaint, the plaintiffs invoked the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and several State laws governing corrections. (D.I. 124); See Anderson v. Redman, 474 F.Supp. 511, 513 (D. Del. 1979). The defendants were sued only in their official capacities. See Anderson v. Redman, 429 F.Supp. 1105 (D. Del. 1977) ( "Anderson I" ). The matter proceeds as a class action.

On December 6, 1976, the court found that conditions in the receiving room cells could not pass constitutional muster and constituted cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment of the Federal Constitution as incorporated in the Fourteenth Amendment of the Federal Constitution, and that the conditions worked a denial of due process under the Fourteenth Amendment as to individuals charged, but not convicted of any criminal offense...." (D.I. 20.); see also Anderson v. Redman, 474 F.Supp. at 513 n.2; Anderson I, 429 F.Supp. at 1121. It granted immediate relief to alleviate overcrowding in the receiving room cells at the DCC. Id. On February 16, 1977, the court entered a final order that granted the plaintiffs permanent injunctive relief. (D.I. 41, 42.) The court expressly recognized the existence of a substantial federal constitutional question, exercised pendent jurisdiction over the plaintiffs' state-law claims and granted relief, solely on the basis of those state-law violations, with one exception (the receiving room cells as discussed in the December 6, 1976 order). See Anderson, 474 F.Supp. at 513. The order was modified on May 17, 1978 (D.I. 84) and September 22, 1978 (D.I. 102). The September 22, 1978 order amended the February 16, 1977 order as follows: "Notwithstanding any provision of this Order prohibiting double celling or requiring single cells, defendants are permitted to house two inmates in cells... in the 120 bed facility currently being constructed at the [DCC]." (D.I. 102.) The February 16, 1977 order, as amended, required that the defendants limit the inmate population of the DCC to the design capacity of that institution. See Anderson v. Redman, 480 F.Supp. 830, 831 (D. Del. 1979) ( "Anderson II." )

In the meantime, on March 17, 1977, the court entered an order denying the defendants' application for a partial stay. (D.I. 53.) The order noted that the defendants had conceded they were in violation of Delaware statutes. ( Id. ) In an apparent response to the order, on June 8, 1979, the Governor of Delaware signed into law House Bill 495 ("H.B. 495") (codified at 11 Del. C. § 6502). See http://delcode.delaware.gov/sessionlaws/gal30/chp061.shtml (Jan. 29, 2015). The law expressly referred to this court's March 1977 order and was designed to prevent the court from enforcing limits on the inmate population in the State of Delaware based upon violations of Delaware statutory law. See Anderson II, 480 F.Supp. at 831.

Following the enactment of H.B. 495, the defendants moved to vacate the modified February 17, 1977 order, on the grounds that H.B. 495 had undercut the basis of that order. (D.I. 123.) The plaintiffs, on the other hand, sought to challenge the constitutionality of H.B. 495 under the Delaware Constitution, and sought a stay of the court's order pending resolution of a State court action to challenge the constitutionality of H.B. 495. See id. On November 28, 1979, the court denied the motion to vacate. As noted by the court, the order at issue was based solely on the finding that the conditions of confinement at DCC violated State statutory law and, although the conditions were also challenged on state and federal constitutional grounds, the court found it unnecessary to reach these issues. See id. The court ordered the plaintiffs to litigate all bases for their Delaware State constitutional challenge to H.B. 495 in the Delaware courts and stayed the February 17, 1977 order, as amended, until 90 days after the ultimate resolution of the State court action. (D.I. 141, 142); see Anderson II, 480 F.Supp. at 833.

In accordance with the order to litigate in State court, a class action was filed in the Court of Chancery of Delaware, New Castle County, in March 1980, Dickerson v. DuPont, Civ. A. No. 10256 (Del. Ch.).[1] ( See D.I. 150, ex.) The original complaint alleged that conditions of overcrowding at the DCC were violative of article I, § 11 of the Delaware Constitution of 1987. See Dickerson v. Castle, 1991 WL 208467 (Del. Ch. 1991) ( "Dickerson I" ). The parties reach a settlement agreement and the Court of Chancery entered an order approving the agreement on November 28, 1988. See Dickerson v. Carper, 1995 WL 606316, at *1 (Del. Ch. 1995) ( "Dickerson II" ). The agreement went far afield from the original complaint, covering conditions at all four major prison operated by the Delaware Department of Correction ("DOC"). Dickerson II at 1. The agreement contemplated implementation of its provisions over three years ending in 1991. Dickerson II at *1. Approximately one year after entry of the order approving the settlement between the parties, the plaintiffs filed a motion to show cause why the defendants should not be held in contempt for alleged violations of the agreement. See Dickerson I. When the Chancery Court heard the motion, it found that the defendants were in compliance with the agreement. See Dickerson II at *1. The Dickerson class action was dismissed on September 7, 1995 with each party to bear its own coasts. Id. at *6.

During the pendency of Dickerson, a motion to lift the stay was filed in the instant action in 1983 on behalf of one inmate who was a member of the original class certified. By this time, "there were unresolved questions as to both representation and tactics with respect to the plaintiffs' class."[2] (D.I. 150.) On April 23, 1984, the court entered an order and declined to lift the stay but noted that the denial was without prejudice to the BCRP or its prisoner clients to file a fresh lawsuit reflecting current conditions of alleged overcrowding in the Delaware correctional system. ( Id. )

No further action in this case took place until September 22, 2014, when Fatir filed the instant motion to enforce judgment (D.I. 152), pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 70 and 71 and the All Writs Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1651(a), [3] some thirty years after entry of the last order in this case. Fatir seeks an order for the defendants to cease double-celling, reduce the inmate capacity to the design capacity and reduce the classification capacity to 8% below design capacity to comply with the court's definition of classification capacity. ( Id. ) The defendant Warden Pierce opposes the motion.[4]

II. STANDARDS OF LAW

Fatir moves for enforcement pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 70 and 71, as well as the All Writs Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1651(a). Rule 70 states in pertinent part: "If a judgment directs a party to... perform any... specific act and the party fails to comply within the time specified, the court may direct the act to be done at the cost of the disobedient party by some other person... The court may also in proper cases adjudge the party in contempt." Fed.R.Civ.P. 70. Rule 70 provides that "when an order grants relief for a nonparty or may be enforced against a nonparty, the procedure for enforcing the order is the same as for a party." Fed.R.Civ.P. 71. The All Writs Act, in relevant part, provides that "all courts established by Act of Congress may issue all writs necessary or appropriate in aid of their respective jurisdictions and agreeable to the usages and principles of law." 28 U.S.C. § 1651(a). "[C]ourts have interpreted [the All Writs Statute] as authorizing injunctions to protect and effectuate their judgments." In Reliance Securities Litig., 2003 WL 1943320 (D. Del. 2003) (citing Baker v. Gatz, 415 F.Supp. 1243, 1247 (D. Del. 1976) (collecting cases)).

III. DISCUSSION

As an initial matter, the court notes that this matter proceeds as a class action. Fatir, proceeds pro se. He is not an attorney and may not represent the interests of the class. See Sinclair v. Citi Mortg., Inc., 519 F.App'x 737, 739 (3d Cir. 2014) (unpublished) ("one pro se litigant cannot represent another") (citing Oxendine v. Williams, 509 F.2d 1405, 1407 (4th Cir. 1975) (noting that "it is plain error to ...


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