Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Davis v. Abercrombie

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

May 22, 2017

RICHARD KAPELA DAVIS, MICHAEL HUGHES, DAMIEN KAAHU, ROBERT A. HOLBRON, JAMES KANE, III, ELLINGTON KEAWE, KALAI POAHA, TYRONE KAWAELANILUA`OLE NA`OKI GALDONES, Plaintiffs,
v.
NEIL ABERCROMBIE, in his official capacity as the Governor of the State of Hawaii; Director of Public Safety of the State of Hawai`i NOLAN ESPINDA; CORECIVIC, Defendants.

          AMENDED ORDER GRANTING FINAL APPROVAL OF CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT

          LESLIE E. KOBAYASHI UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         On February 24, 2016, Ted Sakai, in his official capacity as Director of the Hawai`i Department of Public Safety, and Corrections Corporation of America (“CCA”) filed their Motion for Preliminary Approval of Class Settlement Agreement Reached by Counsel on May 14, 2015 and Request to Set Fairness Hearing (“Preliminary Approval Motion”).[1] [Dkt. no. 778.] This Court granted the Preliminary Approval Motion at a hearing on August 8, 2016. [Dkt. no. 800 (Minutes).] On February 6, 2017, this matter came before the Court for a final fairness hearing. For the reasons set forth below, and after due consideration of the evidence and arguments presented by the parties and the record in this case, the Court CONCLUDES that good cause exists to GRANT final approval of the settlement in this action pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(e).

         BACKGROUND

         I. Procedural History

         Plaintiffs Richard Kapela Davis, Michael Hughes, Damien Kaahu, Robert A. Holbron, James Kane, III, Ellington Keawe, and Kalai Poaha filed the Second Amended Complaint for Damages and for Classwide Declaratory and Injunctive Relief (“Second Amended Complaint”) on August 22, 2012. [Dkt. no. 145.] Plaintiff Tyrone Galdones also filed his Supplemental Complaint for Damages and for Classwide Declaratory and Injunctive Relief (“Supplemental Complaint”) on August 22, 2012. [Dkt. no. 146.]

         Plaintiffs are all Hawai`i residents who were convicted and sentenced for committing criminal violations of Hawai`i law. The Second Amended Complaint alleges that, during all periods relevant to the instant case, they were incarcerated at either Saguaro Correctional Center (“Saguaro”) or Red Rock Correctional Center (“Red Rock”).[2] Each Plaintiff is of Native Hawaiian ancestry and is a practitioner of the Native Hawaiian religion. Saguaro and Red Rock are private prisons in Arizona, operated by CoreCivic. The State of Hawai`i houses inmates at CoreCivic's facilities pursuant to various contracts. [Second Amended Complaint at ¶¶ 7-10, 12(c), 17-18; Supplemental Complaint at ¶¶ 7-10, 12(c), 17-18.] In the instant case, Plaintiffs allege that Defendants have prohibited them from exercising their constitutional and statutory right to practice their faith.

         The Second Amended Complaint alleges the following claims:

-Violation of Plaintiffs' right to the free exercise of their religion pursuant to the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution as to daily worship practices (“Count I”), the observance of Makahiki[3] (“Count II”), access to sacred items (“Count III”), access to sacred space (“Count IV”), and access to a spiritual advisor (“Count V”);
-Violation of Plaintiffs' equal protection rights pursuant to the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution as to daily worship practices (“Count VI”), the observance of Makahiki (“Count VII”), access to sacred items (“Count VIII”), access to sacred space (“Count IX”), and access to a spiritual advisor (“Count X”);
-Violation of Plaintiffs' right to free exercise of their religion pursuant to Article I, § 4 of the Hawai`i State Constitution as to daily worship practices (“Count XI”), the observance of Makahiki (“Count XII”), access to sacred items (“Count XIII”), access to sacred space (“Count XIV”), and access to a spiritual advisor (“Count XV”);
-Violation of Plaintiffs' equal protection rights pursuant to Article I, § 5 of the Hawai`i State Constitution as to daily worship practices (“Count XVI”), the observance of Makahiki (“Count XVII”), access to sacred items (“Count XVIII”), access to sacred space (“Count XIX”), and access to a spiritual advisor (“Count XX”);
-Violation of Plaintiffs' rights relating to native Hawaiian customary and traditional practices pursuant to Article XII, § 7 of the Hawai`i State Constitution and Haw. Rev. Stat. § 1-1 as to the observance of Makahiki (“Count XXI”);
-Violation of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc, et seq. (“RLUIPA”), as to daily worship practices (“Count XXII”), the observance of Makahiki (“Count XXIII”), access to sacred items (“Count XXIV”), access to sacred space (“Count XXV”), and access to a spiritual advisor (“Count XXVI”).

         The Supplemental Complaint states that Plaintiff Galdones “hereby joins in and asserts COUNTS I through XXVI of the Amended Complaint[4] on his own behalf and on behalf of all those similarly situated.” [Supplemental Complaint at ¶ 124.] The Supplemental Complaint also asserted an additional claim alleging that Defendants retaliated against him, in violation of both federal law and state law. [Id. at ¶¶ 125-37.] This Court dismissed Galdones's retaliation claim under federal law for failure to exhaust his administrative remedies. [Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part Defendants' Motion to Dismiss for Failure to Exhaust, filed 4/11/13 (dkt. no. 286) (“4/11/13 Order”), at 28-29.[5] Plaintiff Galdones's state law retaliation claim and the claims that are asserted in the Second Amended Complaint remained.

         On September 30, 2014, this Court issued its Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part Plaintiffs' Amended Second Motion for Class Certification (“9/30/14 Certification Order”). [Dkt. no. 644.[6] This Court certified:

-“a class, seeking prospective declaratory and injunctive relief, as to Plaintiffs' remaining claims regarding daily, outdoor, group worship and the remaining claims regarding access to sacred items (‘the Prospective Relief Class')”; 9/30/14 Certification Order, 2014 WL 4956454, at *28;
-“a subclass, seeking prospective declaratory and injunctive relief, with regard to: 1) the same claims described supra as to the Prospective Relief Class; and 2) the remaining state and federal claims regarding lack of access to communal sacred items in protective custody (‘the Prospective Relief Subclass')”; id. at *29;[7]
-“a class, seeking nominal damages and other retrospective relief, as to Counts I through X, and XXII through XXVI (‘the Damages Class')”; id.;
-“a subclass, seeking nominal damages and other retrospective relief, as to Counts I, II, III, V, VI, VII, VIII, X, XXII, XXIII, XXIV, and XXVI (‘the SHIP Damages Subclass')”;[8] id.; and
-“a subclass, seeking nominal damages and other retrospective relief, as to Counts I through X, and XXII through XXVI (‘the Protective Custody Damages Subclass')”; id.

         A. Remaining Claims

         By the time of trial, which was scheduled for June 5, 2015, the following claims remained:

         1. Class Claims

-Counts I (federal free exercise), VI (federal equal protection), XI (state free exercise), XVI (state equal protection), and XXII (RLUIPA) regarding daily, outdoor, group worship by the Prospective Relief Class and the Protective Custody Prospective Relief Subclass;
-Counts III (federal free exercise), XIII (state free exercise), and XXIV (RLUIPA) regarding lack of daily access to personal amulets and `ohe hano ihu (bamboo nose flute) by the Prospective Relief Class and the Protective Custody Prospective Relief Subclass;
-Counts VIII (federal equal protection) and XVIII (state equal protection) regarding lack of daily access to personal amulets, `ohe hano ihu, coconut oil, and malo, kihei, and pau (native garments) by the Prospective Relief Class and the Protective Custody Prospective Relief Subclass;
-Counts III, VIII, XIII, XVIII, and XXIV regarding lack of access to communal sacred items in protective custody by the Protective Custody Prospective Relief Subclass;
-Counts I through V (federal free exercise), VI through X (federal equal protection), and XXII through XXVI (RLUIPA) by the Damages Class and the Protective Custody Damages Subclass; and
-Counts I, II, III, V, VI, VII, VIII, X, XXII, XXIII, XXIV, and XXVI by the SHIP Damages Subclass.

         2. Individual Claims

         The individual Plaintiffs had the following claims, in addition to the claims they were pursuing as class representatives.

-Plaintiff Galdones's state law retaliation claim, set forth in his Supplemental Complaint.
-Plaintiffs Kane and Keawe's federal claims for compensatory damages, nominal damages, and retrospective equitable relief based on alleged violations that occurred while they were in protective custody at Red Rock. See Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part Defs.' Motion for Summary Judgment Re: Sovereign Immunity/Damages, filed 7/31/14 (dkt. no. 596) (“7/31/14 Summary Judgment Order”), at 37, available at 2014 WL 3809499, at *11 (ruling that Plaintiffs' remaining claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and RLUIPA claims for damages are limited to compensatory and nominal damages). These were the claims regarding: the observance of Makahiki (Counts II, VII, and XXII); access to sacred items (Counts III, VIII, and XXIV); and access to a spiritual advisor (Counts V, X, and XXVI).
-Plaintiffs Kane and Keawe's claims for prospective equitable relief regarding the observance of Makahiki in protective custody at Saguaro (Counts II, VII, XII, XVII, and XXII).
-Plaintiff Davis's federal claims for compensatory damages, nominal damages, and retrospective equitable relief based on the exclusion from certain Makahiki ceremonies (Counts II, VII, and XXII) on the ground that he allegedly had insufficient attendance at the Native Hawaiian religion classes that were a prerequisite to participation.
-Plaintiff Holbron's claims for prospective equitable relief regarding the practice of the Native Hawaiian religion in administrative segregation and SHIP. These are: the observance of Makahiki (Counts II, VII, XII, XVII, and XXII); access to sacred items (Counts III, VIII, XIII, XVIII, and XXIV); and access to a spiritual advisor (Counts V, X, XV, XX, and XXVI). However, his claims were subject to him establishing that there is a reasonable expectation that he may be placed in administrative segregation and/or SHIP in the future. See Amended Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment; Granting in Part and Denying in Part Plaintiff Robert Holbron's Counter-motion for Summary Judgment on His Claims; and Granting in Part and Denying in Part Plaintiffs' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment Against Defendants as to Their Claims under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, filed June 13, 2014 (“6/13/14 Summary Judgment Order”) (dkt. no. 544), available at 2014 WL 2716856, at *5.

         B. Settlement

         On May 14, 2015, the magistrate judge held a settlement conference. The case settled and the terms of the settlement were placed on the record (“Settlement on the Record”). [Minutes, filed 5/14/15 (dkt. no. 745).] The magistrate judge stated:

I understand we have now reached an agreement. This, of course, will be subject to the consent of members of the class, the plaintiffs. We've discussed this at length during our settlement conference this afternoon, but perhaps this would be a good opportunity to put the material terms of the agreement on the record.
I know that some work will be required to finalize a number of the details, but we should put the parameters of this on the record at this time, so that we can be set in place, and then, of course, call off the dogs ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.