By their failure to make reasonable accommodations to facilitate full participation by class members in educational, vocational and rehabilitative contexts such as classes and counselling sessions, Defendants have violated class members' constitutional due process rights and the ADA.
Further, by their failure to provide qualified interpreters or other needed assistive devices for medical and mental health treatment Defendants have violated class members' constitutional due process rights and, in those cases in which communication between patient and medical personnel is essential to the efficacy of treatment, violated the Eighth Amendment's proscription against cruel and unusual punishment.
By their failure to provide qualified interpreters or other needed assistive devices for disciplinary, grievance and parole proceedings, Defendants have violated class members' constitutional due process rights. Finally the Female Sub-Class has suffered an equal protection violation by virtue of Defendants' creation and maintenance of the males-only SDU, which created a classification based on gender without a strong justification.
A. Rule 56 Standards for Summary Judgment
Plaintiffs move for summary judgment in their favor pursuant to Rule 56. The Rule 56 motion for summary judgment is "an integral part" of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and facilitates the overall purpose of the Rules as stated in Rule 1, namely, "to secure the just, speedy and inexpensive determination of every action." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 327, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986). A motion for summary judgment may be granted only when there is no genuine issue of material fact remaining for trial and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c); Silver v. City Univ. of New York, 947 F.2d 1021, 1022 (2d Cir. 1991).
The Second Circuit has repeatedly noted that "as a general rule, all ambiguities and inferences to be drawn from the underlying facts should be resolved in favor of the party opposing the motion, and all doubts as to the existence of a genuine issue for trial should be resolved against the moving party." Brady v. Town of Colchester, 863 F.2d 205, 210 (2d Cir. 1988) (citing Celotex v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 330 n.2, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986) (Brennan, J., dissenting) and Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 158-59, 26 L. Ed. 2d 142, 90 S. Ct. 1598 (1970)); see United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655, 8 L. Ed. 2d 176, 82 S. Ct. 993 (1962); Cartier v. Lussier, 955 F.2d 841, 845 (2d Cir. 1992); Burtnieks v. City of New York, 716 F.2d 982, 983-84 (2d Cir. 1983). If, when "viewing the evidence produced in the light most favorable to the nonmovant . . . a rational trier could not find for the nonmovant, then there is no genuine issue of material fact and entry of summary judgment is appropriate." Binder v. Long Island Lighting Co., 933 F.2d 187, 191 (2d Cir. 1991). The nonmovant "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587, 89 L. Ed. 2d 538, 106 S. Ct. 1348 (1986).
Bare assertions cannot serve to raise genuine issues of material fact and a non-movant opposing summary judgment may not rest upon conclusory allegations or denials. See Rule 56, Fed. R. Civ. P.; Park Ave. Tower Assocs. v. City of New York, 746 F.2d 135, 141 (2d Cir. 1984); Project Release v. Prevost, 722 F.2d 960, 970 (2d Cir. 1983); In re D.D. International Discount Corp. v. Chase Manhattan Bank, 701 F.2d 1071, 1077 n. 11 (2d Cir. 1983); Quinn v. Syracuse Model Neighborhood Corp., 613 F.2d 438, 445 (2d Cir. 1980). If the movant has met its burden under Rule 56 of proffering sufficient evidence to show that there is no genuine issue of material fact present, then the opposing party must produce significant probative evidence which tends to support its position. United States v. Pent-R-Books, 538 F.2d 519, 529 (2d Cir. 1976).
A material fact is one that would "affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986); see Iacobelli Construction, Inc. v. County of Monroe, 32 F.3d 19, 23 (2d Cir. 1994). Dispute as to material fact is "genuine," and hence summary judgment is not appropriate, only if evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. See Rule 56, Fed. R. Civ. P.; Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248; Lang v. Retirement Living Publishing Co., 949 F.2d 576, 580 (2d Cir. 1991).
Summary judgment is appropriate under these standards as to Plaintiffs' claims that (i) Defendants have violated the notice, consultation, self-evaluation and grievance procedure requirements of the ADA; (ii) Defendants have violated both the Rehabilitation Act and the ADA by their failure to provide interpretive services for various aspects of reception and classification; (iii) the absence or inadequacy of assistive communications devices for telephone and television and the absence of visual safety alarms violates both the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act; (iv) Defendants' failure to make reasonable accommodations to facilitate full participation by class members in educational, vocational and rehabilitative contexts such as classes and counselling sessions violates the ADA and Plaintiffs' due process rights; (v) Defendants' failure to provide qualified interpreters and/or other assistive devices during medical and mental health treatment violates class members' constitutional due process and privacy rights, and in those cases in which communication between patient and medical personnel is essential to the efficacy of treatment, the Eighth Amendment's proscription against cruel and unusual punishment; (vi) Defendants' failure to provide qualified interpreters and/or other assistive devices in disciplinary, grievance and parole proceedings violates class members' due process rights; (vii) transfers out of, or refusals to transfer into, the SDU for disciplinary, safety, medical or mental health reasons violate the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act; and (viii) Defendants' creation and maintenance of a special prison unit at which all or most of the needs of deaf and hearing-impaired inmates are accommodated -- the SDU -- but from which women are excluded based on gender violates the equal protection rights of the Female Sub-Class, about which there are no genuine issues of material fact.
B. Declaratory Judgment
Plaintiffs seek declaratory judgment as to the rights of the Plaintiff class. This Court has authority to render a declaratory judgment pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2201(a), which states:
In a case of actual controversy within its jurisdiction . . . any court of the United States, upon the filing of an appropriate pleading, may declare the rights and other legal relations of any interested party seeking such declaration, whether or not further relief is or could be sought. Any such declaration shall have the force and effect of a final judgment or decree and shall be reviewable as such.