The opinion of the court was delivered by: Richard M. Borchers Special Master
Claim Number: 03-489 Category III Claimant: Donnie E. Russell, #63377 Address of Claimant: CTCF, P.O. Box 1010, Canon City, CO 80215-1010
FINAL ORDER OF SPECIAL MASTER
THIS MATTER came before the Special Master for hearing on February 22, 2011. The hearing was held at the Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility(CTCF) in Canon City, Colorado. Present were the following: Donnie E. Russell (Claimant) and Deann Conroy, attorney for Defendants.
Claimant testified in support of his claim. Defendants called as a witness Dr. Thomas Fisher, M.D. Defendants offered into evidence Exhibits A through J, and all were admitted. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Special Master took the case under advisement. Further argument will be waived.
This litigation was commenced in 1992 against then-Governor Roy Romer and various officials of the Colorado Department of Corrections (DOC). The case was brought under the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §12101, and Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. §794. During the summer of 2003, the parties began the process of trying to reach a settlement of all issues. The Remedial Plan was the end result of negotiations between counsel for the Class and counsel for Defendants. Then-Judge Nottingham was not involved in the negotiation of the provisions of the settlement document.*fn1 Once the provisions and terms of the settlement were agreed upon by counsel for the Class and counsel for Defendants, the Court was notified that a settlement had been reached between members of the class and Defendants. Judge Nottingham set the case for a fairness hearing.
On August 27, 2003, the Remedial Plan (Settlement Agreement) was presented to Judge Nottingham. After consideration of objections that had been filed by various individuals, Judge Nottingham determined that the Settlement Agreement should be approved. That approval established the class and did not provide for an opt out provision for any individual. The Settlement Agreement also set up a mechanism for individual inmates, former inmates, or their representatives to file a claim seeking damages or some other remedy available in court.
Section XXXII of the Settlement Agreement provides the basis for the filing of claims for damages and/or for other relief. This section states, in part, as follows:
Claim forms will then be sent to the Special Master. The Special Master shall then determine which of the following five categories of damages shall apply to each class member:
I. General inconvenience or nominal damages;
II. Damages due to loss of good time, earned time, access to programs or services that have not resulted in physical injury;
III. Damages due to actual non-severe physical injuries or non-nominal emotional injuries (such as the fear of death);
IV. Damages due to severe physical injuries; and
Only one of the above categories may be applied to each class member. For instance, a class member with both inconvenience damages and non-severe physical injuries will be designated as a Category 3.
Settlement Agreement, pp.28-29. Pursuant to this provision, Claimant filed his claim and requested that the Special Master award appropriate damages or relief.
The Settlement Agreement in Section III provides the ...