LBAC WINS CLASS ACTION TRIAL FOR ORANGE COUNTY AND ENDS 27 YEAR INJUNCTION

In November and December of 2004, David Lawrence and Christina Sprenger represented the County of Orange in a trial before the Honorable Gary L. Taylor in the consolidated actions Pierce v. County of Orange, Case No. SACV 01-981 GLT(MLGx), and Stewart v. Gates, 450 F. Supp. 583 (C.D. Cal. 1978).  The class action suit brought on behalf of all pre-trial detainees at the Orange County jail alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and its State law equivalent, Title 15 and the 1978 Stewart injunction which imposed inmate population limits on the jail and a variety of restrictions relating to outdoor exercise, seating in holding cells, time allotted to finish meals, visitation, access to legal materials, day room access, access to telephones, unsupervised visitation with minors, receipt of mail, minimum sleep times before and after going to court, access to blankets, and the right to a bed within 24 hours of arrival at the jail.  At one point in the protracted litigation, the court certified a damages class action in addition to an injunctive relief class action.  The firm successfully persuaded the court to de-certify the damages aspect of the class action before trial.  Following a bench trial, the court issued its April 27, 2005 findings of fact and conclusions of law in the Pierce matter, finding that the plaintiffs had failed to prove any pervasive violations.  In a separate 23 page order, Judge Taylor vacated the 1978 Stewart injunctions and dismissed the case, noting that “the minimum standard Stewart orders have outlived their time, and are unnecessary and no longer appropriate.”