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Gillette v. Prosper

United States Court of Appeals, Third Circuit

June 2, 2017

RONALD EDWARD GILLETTE, Appellant
v.
ACTING WARDEN DIANE PROSPER; JULIUS WILSON, in his capacity as the Director of Prisons; TERRITORY OF VIRGIN ISLANDS; ATTORNEY GENERAL UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

          Argued December 12, 2016

         On Appeal from the District Court of the Virgin Islands (D.C. No. 1-14-cv-00110) District Judge: Honorable Wilma A. Lewis

          Joseph A. DiRuzzo, III (Argued) Jeffrey J. Molinaro Fuerst Ittleman David & Joseph, PL Counsel for Plaintiff-Appellant

          Kimberly L. Salisbury (Argued) Office of Attorney General of Virgin Islands Department of Justice Counsel for Defendants-Appellees

          Before: CHAGARES, JORDAN, and HARDIMAN, Circuit Judges.

          OPINION

          HARDIMAN, Circuit Judge.

         Appellant Ronald Gillette is an inmate at Golden Grove Correctional Facility on St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. Gillette filed suit in the District Court for the Virgin Islands alleging various constitutional and statutory claims. Most significant to this appeal, Gillette moved the District Court to convene a three-judge court under the Prison Litigation Reform Act. The District Court denied Gillette's motion, finding that he had not satisfied the prerequisites for convening a three-judge court. Before the District Court could adjudicate the merits of Gillette's claims, he filed this appeal. Because the District Court's order denying Gillette's motion for a three-judge court is neither a final order nor subject to any exception to the final judgment rule, we will dismiss Gillette's appeal for lack of jurisdiction.

         I

         A

         Gillette filed his initial complaint in December 2014 and amended it in March 2015. The amended complaint alleges claims under: (1) 42 U.S.C. § 1983; (2) Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971); (3) Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act; and (4) the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Gillette claims "he is being subjected to cruel and unusual punishment due to the failure to provide constitutionally mandated medical and mental health treatment, and for being subject to the deplorable conditions of Golden Grove, which also violates the ADA." Gillette v. Prosper, 2016 WL 912195, at *1 (D.V.I. Mar. 4, 2016) (quoting Amended Compl. ¶ 3).

         The amended complaint asserts that Appellees denied Gillette adequate medical care, failed to protect inmates, provided inadequate training or supervision of prison staff, failed to protect Gillette from suicidal action, and violated the ADA and Rehabilitation Act. Gillette sought from the District Court an order: (1) declaring that the conditions at Golden Grove violate the Eighth Amendment, the Virgin Islands Bill of Rights (48 U.S.C. § 1561), and the ADA; (2) awarding Gillette compensatory damages for the alleged violations of his constitutional and statutory rights; and (3) granting injunctive relief discharging Gillette from detention or, in the alternative, transferring him to another facility that comports with the Eighth Amendment, the Virgin Islands Bill of Rights, and the ADA.

         The District Court acknowledged that Gillette's "claims regarding denial of adequate medical care, failure to protect from suicidal action, and violations of the ADA and Rehabilitation Act . . . are particularized in that" they involve allegations specific to Gillette "(e.g., [Gillette] has a brain cyst, a history of suicidal ideation, and 'heat-sensitive disabilities')." Gillette, 2016 WL 912195, at *1. Nevertheless, the District Court found that Gillette's remaining claims-"failure to protect from attack" and "inadequate training or supervision"-"are inextricably intertwined with the [ongoing] litigation between the United States and the Virgin Islands regarding the conditions of Golden Grove." Id.; see United States v. Territory of Virgin Islands, No. 86-265 (D.V.I.) (the Golden Grove Litigation).

         In the Golden Grove Litigation, initiated in 1986, the United States sued "the Government of the Virgin Islands pursuant to the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act ('CRIPA'), 42 U.S.C. § 1997, alleging that the inmates at Golden Grove were being deprived of their constitutional rights under the Eighth Amendment." Gillette, 2016 WL 912195, at *1. The parties promptly entered into a consent decree in which the Virgin Islands agreed to try to remedy the conditions at Golden Grove. After the consent decree was entered, the parties continued to litigate the conditions at the prison. "The District Court entered several additional orders when the conditions at Golden Grove failed to improve according to plan, including a 1990 Plan of Compliance, a 2003 Stipulated Agreement, a 2007 Remedial Order, and three additional orders in December 2009, February 2010, and December 2010." United States v. Territory of Virgin Islands, 748 F.3d 514, 517 (3d Cir. 2014). In May 2013, the District Court approved a settlement agreement in the Golden Grove Litigation, which called for extensive systemic changes in the areas of "safety and supervision, " "medical and mental health care, " "fire and life safety, " and "environmental health" and safety. Id. at 518-19 (describing 2013 Order). In June 2013, the Court also appointed a Monitor, who "lends expertise to the reform effort and provides quarterly reports on Golden Grove's compliance with the [2013 Order]." Gillette, 2016 WL 912195, at *1.

         Many of Gillette's allegations in this case track closely those raised in the Golden Grove Litigation and the 2013 Order. His claims "are also similar to the claims he raised when he attempted to intervene in the Golden Grove Litigation." Id. at *2. In that case, he "argued that he should be permitted to intervene because, as a prisoner of Golden Grove, he has a cognizable interest in . . . the Golden Grove Litigation." Id. The District Court denied Gillette's motion, and we affirmed. We explained that Gillette's interests were adequately represented by the United States because, "as an inmate of Golden Grove, [he was] the 'exact constituent' the United States [was] attempting to protect." ...


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