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Gumm v. Ford

United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Macon Division

December 21, 2018

TIMOTHY GUMM, ROBERT WATKINS, Plaintiffs,
v.
BENJAMIN FORD, Warden, Georgia Diagnostic & Classification Prison, et al., Defendants.

          FOR PLAINTIFFS SARAH GERAGHTY, AARON LITTMAN, RYAN PRIMERANO, C. ALLEN GARRETT JR., JAMES F. BOGAN III, TAMARA SERWER CALDAS, CHRIS W. HAAF, KILPATRICK TOWNSEND & STOCKTON LLP COUNSEL FOR PLAINTIFFS

          FOR DEFENDANTS SUSAN E. TEASTER, ELIZABETH M. CROWDER COUNSEL FOR DEFENDANTS

         SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT REGARDING THE SPECIAL MANAGEMENT UNIT

         TABLE OF CONTENTS

         INTRODUCTION ........................................................................................................................... 1

         TERMS AND CONDITIONS ......................................................................................................... 4

         I. CONDITIONS OF CONFINEMENTIN THE SMU ..................................................... 4

         A. Out-of-Cell Time ............................................................................................... 4

         B. Library, Book Carts, and GOAL Devices .......................................................... 6

         C. Programming ...................................................................................................... 6

         D. Privileges ............................................................................................................ 7

         E. Food ................................................................................................................... 8

         F. Other Conditions ................................................................................................ 8

         II. DURATIONOF CONFINEMENT IN THE SMU ........................................................ 9

         III. ASSIGNMENTAND PERIODICREVIEW ............................................................... 11

         IV. MONITORING AND REPORTING REQUIREMENTS ........................................... 14

         A. Monitoring Meetings ............................................................................................. 14

         B. Access to Records and Data ................................................................................... 14

         C. On-site Visits ......................................................................................................... 16

         D. Access to Copies of This Agreement and Training of GDC Staff ......................... 17

         V. IMPLEMENTATIONANDENFORCEMENT .......................................................... 17

         A. Communications with and Responsibilities of Class Counsel ............................... 17

         B. Meet and Confer Obligations in the Event of an Alleged Breach ......................... 18

         C. Enforcement ........................................................................................................... 18

         D. Class Certification, Notice, and Joint Motion ........................................................ 18

         VI. ATTORNEY FEES AND COSTS ............................................................................... 19

         VII. CONSTRUCTION, EFFECT, AND TERMOF AGREEMENT ................................. 21

         A. Binding Effect ........................................................................................................ 21

         B. Release ................................................................................................................... 21

         C. Severability ............................................................................................................ 21

         D. Modification ........................................................................................................... 22

         E. Execution and Effective Date ................................................................................ 22

         F. Term of Agreement ................................................................................................ 22

         SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT REGARDING THE SPECIAL MANAGEMENT UNIT

         Plaintiffs Timothy Gumm and Robert Watkins, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, and Defendants Timothy Ward, Ricky Myrick, Robert Toole, Benjamin Ford, Michael Cannon, and Joseph Polite (the Plaintiffs and Defendants, collectively, are referenced herein as “the Parties”), hereby enter this Settlement Agreement as a resolution of all claims for prospective relief asserted by Plaintiffs in this action.

         INTRODUCTION

         1. This is an action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 challenging the conditions and procedures at the Special Management Unit (“SMU”) at Georgia Diagnostic & Classification Prison (“Georgia Diagnostic”).

         2. Plaintiffs in this action are Timothy Gumm and Robert Watkins, two men who are or were held in the SMU for at least seven years. Watkins remains in the SMU.

         3. For purposes of this Agreement, Defendants are Timothy Ward in his official capacity as Interim Commissioner for the Georgia Department of Corrections (“GDC” or “the Department”); Ricky Myrick in his official capacity as the Department's Assistant Commissioner of the Facilities Division; Robert Toole in his official capacity as the Department's Director of Field Operations; Benjamin Ford in his official capacity as Warden of Georgia Diagnostic; Michael Cannon in his official capacity as Superintendent of the SMU; and Joseph Polite in his official capacity as Deputy Warden of the SMU.

         4. The Parties agree that this Court has jurisdiction to enter prospective relief against Defendants under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Venue is proper in this District under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b).

         5. The Parties agree that Plaintiff Timothy Gumm faces a risk of being returned to the SMU and being subjected to the policies and practices challenged in this action absent injunctive relief. Robert Watkins is currently confined to the SMU and will continue to be subjected to the policies and practices challenged in this action absent injunctive relief. Plaintiffs therefore have standing to seek prospective relief against Defendants concerning the conditions and review procedures applicable to the SMU.

         6. The Parties agree that Plaintiffs meet the requirements under Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to certify an injunctive class defined as follows: All persons who are or in the future will be assigned to the facility currently known as the Special Management Unit at Georgia Diagnostic & Classification Prison, or who are or in the future will be assigned to the Tier III Program.

         7. The Parties agree that the prospective relief set forth in this Agreement satisfies the requirements of 18 U.S.C. § 3626(a)(1)(A) in that the relief is narrowly drawn, extends no further than necessary to correct the alleged violations of those federal rights as asserted by Plaintiffs in the Third Amended Complaint, and is the least intrusive means necessary to correct the violations of federal rights. The relief set forth in this Agreement will not have an adverse impact on public safety or the operation of the criminal justice system, nor will it require or permit government officials to exceed their authority under state or local law, or otherwise violate state or local law.

         8. The prospective relief set forth in this Agreement shall be terminated only as provided herein and shall be exempt from the termination provisions of 18 U.S.C. § 3626(b) and Rule 60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

         9. The terms of this Agreement apply to the SMU inmates assigned to the Tier III Program.[1] The Tier III Program is an incentive program based on an increased level of privileges for demonstrated appropriate behavior and program compliance. The goal is for the inmate to make the appropriate adjustments so that he or she may be returned to a general population housing assignment. A person assigned to the Tier III Program is given the opportunity to progress through the program's phases based upon his or her behavior and ability to adjust under reduced levels of supervision.

         10. In recent months, the Defendants have taken numerous remedial measures, including the adoption of a revised Standard Operating Procedure related to the Tier III Program. Plaintiffs appreciate the Defendants' efforts thus far aimed at improving conditions and processes related to the Tier III Program. Resolving this matter with this Agreement is in the best interest of the Defendants and the members of the putative plaintiff class.

         TERMS AND CONDITIONS

         I. CONDITIONS OF ...


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