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Balla v. Idaho State Bd. of Corr.

United States District Court, D. Idaho

August 11, 2015

WALTER D. BALLA, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
IDAHO STATE BOARD OF CORRECTION, et al., Defendants

Page 1272

For Walter D Balla, Plaintiff: Bradley J Dixon, LEAD ATTORNEY, Stoel Rives LLP, Boise, ID; George C Patterson, LEAD ATTORNEY, Patterson Law Offices, P.A., Boise, ID; Jason Emerson Prince, LEAD ATTORNEY, Holland & Hart LLP, Boise, ID; William C Pooser, LEAD ATTORNEY, STOEL RIVES, Boise, ID; Elijah Martin Watkins, STOEL RIVES, LLP, Boise, ID.

For Idaho, State of, Defendant: Colleen D Zahn, LEAD ATTORNEY, Office of the Attorney General, Civil Litigation Division, Boise, ID; Mark Alan Kubinski, Paul R Panther, LEAD ATTORNEYS, IDAHO DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION, Boise, ID; Michaelina Brady Murphy, LEAD ATTORNEY, Murphy Law Office, Meridian, ID; Fred C Goodenough, Michael S Gilmore, William Michael Loomis, OFFICE OF ATTORNEY GENERAL, Boise, ID.

For Barry Searcy, Keith A Brown, John Maynard, David Johnson, Kenneth Workman, Personal Representatives: Bradley J Dixon, LEAD ATTORNEY, Stoel Rives LLP, Boise, ID; Elijah Martin Watkins, STOEL RIVES, LLP, Boise, ID; Jason Emerson Prince, LEAD ATTORNEY, Holland & Hart LLP, Boise, ID; William C Pooser, LEAD ATTORNEY, STOEL RIVES, Boise, ID.

For Lance Conway Wood, Personal Representative: Bradley J Dixon, LEAD ATTORNEY, Stoel Rives LLP, Boise, ID; ason Emerson Prince, LEAD ATTORNEY, Holland & Hart LLP, Boise, ID.

For Kent Ellis, Personal Representative: Elijah Martin Watkins, STOEL RIVES, LLP, Boise, ID; William C Pooser, LEAD ATTORNEY, STOEL RIVES, Boise, ID.

Page 1273

ORDER GRANTING IN PART MOTION FOR SANCTIONS [956]

DAVID O. CARTER, United States District Judge.

Before the Court is Plaintiffs' Motion for Sanctions or, in the Alternative, Contempt (Dkt. 956). At issue is whether Defendant, the Idaho State Board of Correction, should be sanctioned for destroying or altering documents or otherwise presenting misleading information to the Court's appointed special master Dr. Marc Stern when he visited the Idaho State Correctional Institution (" ISCI" ) in September 2011 and January 2012. The parties briefed the issues and an evidentiary hearing was held on July 22 and 23, 2015.

I. Factual Findings

Having considered the evidence presented to the Court, the Court finds the following facts have been established by clear and convincing evidence:

A. Appointment of Dr. Marc Stern as Special Master
1. This case was initially filed in 1981.
2. On November 1, 1984, in Balla v. Idaho State Bd. of Corr., 595 F.Supp. 1558, 1583 (D. Idaho 1984) (" Balla I" ), Judge Ryan ordered Defendant to do the following: (1) adopt a special dietary program for medically infirm inmates; (2) provide adequate clothing for inmates in protective custody; (3) create 24-hour emergency medical care for inmates and hire a full-time physician; (4) provide a properly staffed medical delivery system; (5) establish a psychiatric care program; (6) provide adequate security staff for double-celled units; (7) report to the Court on Defendant's progress; (8) establish an inmate classification system to protect younger inmates; and (9) implement a disciplinary procedure ensuring due process protection.
3. On July 11, 1985, Judge Ryan approved certain compliance plans that Defendant submitted in response to the Balla I order.
4. On January 6, 2011, Judge Winmill issued an order stating his intent to appoint a special master in order to move the then-30-year-old case forward toward closure.
5. On June 1, 2011, Judge Winmill gave notice of his intent to appoint Dr. Marc Stern as special master.
6. On July 20, 2011, Judge Winmill appointed Dr. Stern as a special master to evaluate the medical and mental health care delivery system at ISCI and determine whether ISCI was in compliance with the 1985 Balla

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I compliance plans (if the plans were still workable) and whether ISCI inmates were being deprived of their Eighth Amendment rights through deliberate indifference to their medical needs.

7. The July 20, 2011 order stated: " [C]ounsel and the parties shall work with Dr. Stern to allow him reasonable access to all necessary materials, individuals, and facilities that will assist him in completing his duties."
8. On September 7, 8, and 9, 2011, Dr. Stern visited ISCI. He spoke to ISCI administrators, other staff, and inmates.
9. On September 30, 2011, Dr. Stern asked the Court to appoint psychiatrist Dr. Amanda Ruiz as a deputy special master to assist him in evaluating ISCI's mental health care delivery. Judge Winmill duly appointed Dr. Ruiz on October 17, 2011.
10. On January 2, 3, and 4, 2012, Dr. Stern visited ISCI again, this time with Dr. Ruiz. They spoke to ISCI administrators, other staff, and inmates.
11. On March 19, 2012, Dr. Stern filed his report (Dkt. 822). He stated in the executive summary of the report: " I found serious problems with the delivery of medical and mental health care. Many of these problems either have resulted or risk resulting in serious harm to inmates at ISCI. In multiple ways, these conditions violate the right of inmates at ISCI to be protected from cruel and unusual punishment. Since many of these problems are frequent, pervasive, long standing, and authorities are or should have been aware of them, it is my opinion that authorities are deliberately indifferent to the serious health care needs of their charges."
12. Following the issuance of Dr. Stern's report, the parties engaged in settlement negotiations. Using Dr. Stern's report as a guideline, the parties eventually reached an agreement whereby Defendant agreed to implement certain Modified Compliance Plans and to be subject to a two-year monitoring period during which the parties would meet every month to discuss the progress of the implementation and to address healthcare-related areas of concern raised by either party. See Stipulated Motion to Modify Injunctive Relief (Dkt. 842). The original monitoring period is set to end in June 2016.

B. ISCI's " Preparations" for Dr. Stern's Visits

1. Dry Cells

13. There are two cells each in Unit 15 and Unit 16 (also known as the Behavioral Health Unit, or BHU) at ISCI that are known as " holding cells" or " dry cells."
14. " Dry" cells are different from regular " wet" cells in that dry cells have no bed, no sink, and no toilet. There is a grate in the concrete floor where inmates can relieve themselves.
15. Inmates with mental health problems were held in the dry cells when they acted out against ISCI staff or other inmates or were a danger to themselves, for example, when they were having a psychotic episode or were on suicide watch.
16. Prior to Dr. Stern's visit, dry cells were used frequently. Former ISCI staff whose offices were located

Page 1275

close to the dry cells testified that the dry cells were used daily. Current ISCI employees admitted that the dry cells were used at least weekly.
17. Sometimes inmates were placed in the dry cell for short periods of time, ranging from a few minutes to a few hours.
18. Other times, however, inmates were placed in the dry cell for days.
19. Inmate Munk's housing record shows that he was in a dry cell between May 5 and 7 (three days), June 29 and July 2 (four days), July 26 and 30 (five days), October 21 and 24 (four days) and November 17 and 21 (five days) in 2011.
20. Inmate Brady's housing record shows that he was in a dry cell from June 30 to July 2 (three days) in 2011.
21. Inmate Wilson's housing record shows that he was in a dry cell from July 1 to 5 (five days) and July 28 to 30 (three days) in 2011.
22. Inmate Garner's housing record shows that he was in a dry cell between August 16 and 24 (nine days) and October 6 and 25 (twenty days) in 2011.
23. Inmate Hassan's housing record shows that he was in a dry cell from August 30 to September 6 (seven days) in 2011.
24. Inmate Ehrlick's housing record shows that he was in a dry cell from September 2 to September 4 (three days) in 2011.
25. Inmate Evans's housing record shows that he was in a dry cell between September 17 and 19 (three days) in 2011.
26. Inmate DeHart's housing record shows that he was in a dry cell from October 18 to 21 (four days) in 2011.
27. Inmate Robinson's housing record shows that he was in a dry cell between October 24 and 27 (four days) in 2011.
28. Inmate Hoskins's housing record shows that he was in a dry cell between November 13 and 15 (three days) and November 17 and 26 (ten days) in 2011.
29. Inmate Bright's housing record shows that he was in a dry cell between November 30 and December 3 (four days) and between December 14 and 16 (three days) in 2011.
30. Inmate Hays's housing record shows that he was in a dry cell between December 24 and ...

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