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Marlin Riggs, Individually, and Jose Pina, Joe Rocha, andrew v. Phillip Valdez

April 27, 2011

MARLIN RIGGS, INDIVIDUALLY, AND JOSE PINA, JOE ROCHA, ANDREW
IBARRA, JOSHUA KELLY, RAY BARRIOS, AND RANDY ENZMINGER, INDIVIDUALLY AND ON BEHALF OF A CLASS OF ALL OTHER PERSONS SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
PHILLIP VALDEZ, NORMA RODRIGUEZ, CHRISTOPHER ROSE, STEVEN DANFORTH, AND WILLIAM DEAN, INDIVIDUALLY AND IN THEIR OFFICIAL CAPACITIES, AND CORRECTIONS CORPORATION OF AMERICA, INC., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: U. S. District Judge Honorable Edward J. Lodge

MEMORANDUM ORDER

INTRODUCTION

This prisoner civil rights case has recently been reassigned, and several motions are currently pending before the Court. The parties have adequately presented the facts and legal arguments in their written briefing, and the Court finds that oral argument will not be necessary before resolving these matters. D. Idaho L. Civil R. 7.1(d).

For the reasons set forth below, the Court disposes of the pending motions as follows:

(1) Plaintiffs' Motion to Sever (Dkt. 142) and Plaintiffs' Motion to Amend (Dkt. 143) are granted. The potential class action seeking declaratory and injunctive relief will be severed from Plaintiff Riggs's claims for monetary damages and assigned a new case number. Amended complaints will be authorized in each case. Plaintiffs' Renewed Motion to Certify Class (Dkt. 93) will be denied without prejudice to refiling.

(2) The Associated Press's Motion to Intervene for the Limited Purpose of Opposing Defendants' Motion for a Restraining Order (Dkt. 137) is granted. Defendants' Amended Motion for a Restraining Order (Dkt. 119) is denied, and Plaintiff's Motion to Dismiss Defendants' Motion for a Restraining Order (Dkt. 133) is denied as moot.

(3) Plaintiffs' unopposed Motion to Unseal Documents (Dkt. 135) is granted.

(4) Defendants' Request for Relief (Dkt. 141) is deemed moot. BACKGROUND

On January 12, 2009, Marlin Riggs, then a prisoner at the Idaho Correctional Center ("ICC"), initiated this lawsuit alleging that prison employees and officials had failed to protect him from violence and were deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs, in violation of his Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. (Dkt. 3.)

Chief Judge B. Lynn Winmill consolidated Riggs's Complaint with several other prisoner complaints that raised similar claims against ICC officials. (Dkt. 5.) When it became apparent that some prisoners had not yet exhausted their administrative remedies, Judge Winmill deconsolidated Riggs's Complaint so that it could proceed under its own case number. (Dkt. 8.) Steven Pevar of the American Civil Liberties Union and James D. Huegli later agreed to enter the case as pro bono counsel. (Dkt. 11.)

With the assistance of counsel, Riggs filed an Amended Complaint, adding five new plaintiffs. (Dkt. 16.) In the amended pleading, all plaintiffs alleged that Defendants had failed to protect them from assaults at ICC, but Riggs sued on his own behalf and requested monetary damages while the new plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief on behalf of all similarly situated inmates at ICC. (Dkt. 16, pp. 78-80.) In other words, the Amended Complaint combined Rigg's individual claims for monetary damages with a potential class action seeking only equitable relief.

Defendants responded by filing a Motion to Strike and arguing that the potential class action had been misjoined with Riggs's individual claims. (Dkt. 27.) At the time, Plaintiffs objected to splitting the matter into two cases, and Judge Winmill denied Defendants' Motion. (Dkt. 36.) Plaintiffs then amended the Complaint a second time to add a new plaintiff who raised the same claims and sought the same relief as the five other purported class representatives.*fn1 (Dkt. 71.)

Defendants next filed a Motion to Dismiss the Second Amended Complaint (Dkt. 73), claiming that the new plaintiffs had not properly exhausted their administrative remedies. In an October 10, 2010 Memorandum Decision and Order, Judge Winmill concluded that, with the exception of Plaintiff Rocha, the purported class representatives had exhausted all claims in the Second Amended Complaint except a claim alleging the denial of adequate post-assault medical care. (Dkt. 92.)

In response to that decision, Plaintiffs renewed their motion seeking an order certifying a class under Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (Dkt. 93.) Judge Winmill thereafter set deadlines to complete briefing on class certification issues, allowed the parties to begin discovery, and scheduled a hearing for May 19, 2011.*fn2 (Dkt. 107.) In the interim, the parties submitted numerous motions, and Judge Winmill vacated the briefing schedule on class certification issues pending the resolution of these motions. (Dkt. ...


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