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Coleman v. Brown

United States District Court, E.D. California

July 3, 2019

RALPH COLEMAN, et al., Plaintiffs,
EDMUND G. BROWN, JR., et al., Defendants.


         On November 5, 2018, the Special Master filed his report based on the third re-audit and update on suicide prevention practices in the prisons of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) prepared by the Special Master's expert Lindsay M. Hayes, M.S. See ECF No. 5993. The Special Master also provided a copy of Mr. Hayes' report. ECF No. 5993-1. On November 15, 2018, defendants filed objections to the recommendations contained in the Special Master's report. ECF No. 6007. On November 26, 2018, plaintiffs filed a response to defendants' objections. ECF No. 6014. This order addresses both reports and resolves the defense objections.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The report and recommendations before the court are the fourth in a series of reports filed by the Special Master and his suicide prevention expert, Mr. Hayes. The first report was filed January 14, 2015, ECF Nos. 5258, 5259. It contained a “comprehensive” set of recommendations for action by defendants to enhance their suicide prevention policies and practices. Order filed Feb. 3, 2015, ECF No. 5271 at 2. On February 3, 2015, this court ordered defendants to adopt those recommendations. Id. at 3. There were a total of thirty-two recommendations in the initial report. See ECF No. 5396 at 4. After Mr. Hayes' second re-audit, he and the Special Master recommended withdrawal of three of those recommendations. ECF Nos. 5671, 5672. On January 25, 2018, the court adopted, inter alia, the latter recommendation, ECF No. 5762 at 3, leaving twenty-nine recommendations to be completed.

         A. Special Master's Current Recommendations

         In the report now before the court, the Special Master recommends the following:

(1) That the Court reject defendants' proposal to activate a temporary unlicensed 20-bed MHCB [mental health crisis bed] unit at RJD [Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility];
(2) That the Court order defendants to continue to implement the remaining 29 initial recommendations and develop corrective action plans based upon deficiencies found in Mr. Hayes' most recent assessment; and
(3) That the Court order the Special Master to provide an update report to the Court on the status of defendants' continued implementation of the initial recommendations and the development of related corrective action plans.

ECF No. 5993 at 10.[1]

         B. Defendants' Objections and Plaintiffs' Response

         Defendants raise two objections to the report and its recommendation. First, defendants object on several grounds to the Special Master's recommendation that the court reject the proposal to activate a temporary unlicensed MHCB at RJD. Second, defendants request clarification of the expert's report “with respect to a Quality Improvement Plan [(QIP)] that issued following a suicide at San Quentin State Prison (SQ).” ECF No. 6007 at 7. Plaintiffs oppose defendants' objection to the recommendation concerning the unlicensed MHCBs at RJD, on several grounds, and they contend defendants have waived their request for clarification of the expert's report with respect to the QIP that issued at SQ by not raising it with the Special Master previously. ECF No. 6014, passim.


         The court will not consider defendants' request for clarification of the finding concerning the QIP issued after a suicide at SQ. Defendants had an opportunity to submit to the Special Master objections to the expert's draft third re-audit report, and they did so. ECF No. 5993 at 31-41. Nowhere in those objections did defendants request clarification of the expert's report concerning the QIP they now raise. See id., passim. As a result defendants have waived this objection, given the ground rules established for this case long ago. See Order of Reference, ECF No. 640 at 8 (“The court will entertain no objection to the report unless an identical objection was previously submitted to the special master in the form of a specific written objection. . .”).


         A. Background

         Defendants propose converting twenty cells in an administrative segregation unit at RJD to unlicensed MHCB beds and closing a temporary unlicensed 20-bed Mental Health Outpatient Housing Unit (MHOHU) at California State Prison-Sacramento (CSP-Sac). The Special Master recommends rejection of this proposal, which he represents has been extensively discussed and has received “careful consideration” through the All Parties Workgroup Process. The Special Master shares Mr. Hayes' concerns that “activation of the unit would result in deplorable conditions unacceptable for class members needing an MHCB level of care.” ECF No. 5993 at 8. Mr. Hayes' concerns, which are elaborated in his report, can be summarized as follows:

(1) While the proposal includes retrofitting the cells at RJD to make them suicide-resistant, the cells could not be enlarged and would remain dark: “the 20 cells that comprise this proposed MHCB unit would simply resemble retrofitted new intake cells commonly found in administrative segregation units.” ECF No. 5993-1 at 34.
(2) As retrofitted administrative segregation unit cells, the floor size of each cell would be “dramatically less than the traditional MHCB room found in licensed facilities” and “MHCB suicide-resistant beds regularly found in licensed MHCB units would not fit in these cells.” Id. (emphasis in original).
(3) Proposed locations for clinical offices and interview rooms risk compromising privacy and confidentiality of patient communications. Id.
(4) The inmate-patients in the proposed converted unit would compete for yard time with administrative segregation inmates, making it “very challenging” to schedule adequate yard time and, in any event, “all MHCB patients (regardless of security classification level) would be required to be placed in the special management ‘walk-alone' yards because it is the only option available in the administrative segregation unit yard.” Id. (emphasis in original).
(5) Defendants have no plans to install fencing or netting to prevent suicidal MHCB patients from jumping from the second tier where some proposed converted ...

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