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Carl A. Barnes, et al v. District of Columbia

December 7, 2011

CARL A. BARNES, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Signed by Royce C. Lamberth, Chief Judge,

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER (TRIAL PLAN)

Before the Court are the District's Proposal for Proceeding [317], Oct. 25, 2011, and plaintiffs' Proposed Trial Plan [319], Oct. 26, 2011, as amended by an altered trial plan submitted in November 2011. See Pls.' Am. Proposed Trial Plan [326], Nov. 29, 2011. In these submissions, the parties present a number of proposals for going forward with what remains of the liability phase of this case, as well as the subsequent damages phase. Upon consideration of the parties' proposals, their objections and responses, the entire record in this case, and the applicable law, the Court has determined a plan for proceeding while also resolving certain preliminary issues in a manner that will expedite resolution of this litigation.

I.BACKGROUND

As is more fully explained in this Court's earlier opinions, see, e.g., Barnes v. District of Columbia, 793 F. Supp. 2d 260, 265 (D.D.C. 2011), this case involves overdetentions and strip searches at the District's jail facilities. This is the second of two virtually identical class actions filed against the District in the past ten years involving overdetentions and strip searches at its jails. The first one, Bynum v. District of Columbia, Civil Action No. 02-956 (RCL), settled in January 2006 pursuant to an agreement containing terms designed to remedy the overdetention and strip-search problems. Bynum, 412 F. Supp. 2d 73 (D.D.C. 2006). Among these terms was a requirement that the District set aside $3 million from the $12 million settlement amount to build a new inmate processing center. Id. at 83.

This Court was initially hopeful that the Bynum settlement would produce "significant policy changes in the operation of the Department of Corrections." Id. at 85. But, as it turns out, the overdetention and strip-search problems continued unabated for well over a year, precipitating the filing of the instant lawsuit. Barnes, 793 F. Supp. 2d at 267--68. In February 2006, Carl Barnes and several other named plaintiffs brought suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that their overdetentions and strip searches violated various amendments to the Constitution and the District was liable. Pls.' Second Am. Compl. [12] ¶¶43, 44. The Court later certified the case as a class action. Barnes v. District of Columbia, 242 F.R.D. 113, 120 (D.D.C. 2007). Specifically, the Court certified the case as a hybrid class action, with plaintiffs' claims for injunctive and declaratory relief certified under Rule 23(b)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and plaintiffs' claims for "monetary damages" certified under Rule 23(b)(3). Id. at 124. The Court defined both an "overdetention" and "strip search" class, id. at 120--21, and later ordered that the case be bifurcated into liability and damages phases. Order [65], Aug. 31, 2009.

After discovery as to liability concluded, the parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment, and the Court ruled on those motions in June 2011. Barnes, 793 F. Supp. 2d at 273-- 91. The Court held, inter alia, that the District was liable for overdetentions that occurred at its jail facilities from September 1, 2005 up to and including December 31, 2006. Id. at 285. The Court determined that genuine issues of material fact precluded a finding of summary judgment for plaintiffs or the District as to the District's liability for overdetentions that occurred from January 1, 2007 to February 25, 2008. Id. at 286. As to overdetentions that occurred from February 26, 2008 to the present, the Court found that the District was not liable as a matter of law. Id. However, as to any overdetentions caused by the DOC's enforcement of an ordinance dubbed the "10 p.m. cut-off rule," the Court found the District liable during all parts of the class period. Id. at 283. As to the DOC's policy of strip searching court returns entitled to release, the Court found that such class members' Fourth Amendment rights were violated and that the District was liable. Id. at 291.

Following the Court's issuance of this ruling, and upon the request of the parties, the case was stayed for sixty days and referred to a magistrate judge for mediation. Order [311] Aug. 9, 2011. The parties, however, were apparently too far apart and settlement discussions failed. This brings us to the present moment, where a trial of the remaining issue of liability has yet to be scheduled and significant questions remain regarding how the damages phase of the litigation should proceed. The parties' inability to reach a settlement in this case may be due, at least in part, to lingering uncertainty about these issues.

II.STANDARD OF REVIEW

Federal trial courts have broad discretion to manage the conduct of litigation and to structure trials in a manner that expedites the proceedings while achieving the core purposes of a trial and protecting litigants' rights. As to class actions, which present unique problems of management, Rule 23(d)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure states that in conducting a class action, the court may issue orders that "determine the course of proceedings or prescribe measures to prevent undue repetition in presenting evidence or argument." Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(d)(1). Trial courts have "both the duty and the broad authority to exercise control over a class action and to enter appropriate orders governing the conduct of counsel and the parties." Hoffmann-La Roche Inc. v. Sperling, 493 U.S. 165, 171 (1989).

III.ANALYSIS

A.Preliminary Issues

As an initial matter, plaintiffs have indicated their intent to seek leave to amend their complaint "to clarify their theories of liability[] and the damages flowing from them" and to also file another motion for summary judgment as to the District's liability for overdetentions during the disputed period-i.e., January 1, 2007 to February 25, 2008. Pls.' Proposed Trial Plan [319]

3. The Court hereby advises plaintiffs, however, that it will not grant a motion for leave to amend the complaint and will not entertain further motions for summary judgment.

Plaintiffs filed their original Complaint in February 2006, amending it a day later (mostly to add an additional named plaintiff). See Compl. [1], Feb. 23, 2006; Am. Compl. [3] Feb. 24, 2006. The case then proceeded through a motion-to-dismiss stage, class certification, a round of mediation, a protracted and cantankerous period of fact and expert discovery, motions for summary judgment, and another round of mediation, and only now-six years into the case-do plaintiffs propose to re-amend their Complaint. While leave to amend pleadings should be freely granted "when justice so requires," Fed. R. Civ. P. 15(a), a court may deny a motion for leave to amend if it finds "undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive on the part of the movant, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed, [or] undue prejudice to the opposing party." In re Papst Licensing GmbH & Co. KG Litigation, 762 F. Supp. 2d 56, 59 (D.D.C. 2011) (quoting Forman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962)). Plaintiffs provide no justification for why these additional theories of liability and "clarification" of their ...


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