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Prisoner Education Guide

PLN v. Co. of Los Angeles, et al., CA, Settlement, censorship, 2018

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SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT
1.

PARTIES. The parties to this Settlement Agreement (the "Agreement") are

1.1
Human Rights Defense Center ("HRDC"), a not-for-profit charitable corporation
recognized under section 501 (c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code with its principal offices in
Lake Worth, Florida; and
1.2

The County of Los Angeles (the "County"), California.

Each of the foregoing may be individually referred to herein as a "Party". All are collectively
referred to herein as "the Parties".

2.

RECITALS. This Agreement is made with reference to the following facts:

2.1
HRDC is the publisher of Prison Legal News ("PLN'), a publication that contains
information about the operation of prison facilities, prison conditions, prisoner health and safety,
and prisoners' rights, among other topics.
2.2
The County is a governmental municipality and, among other things, operates the
Men's Central Jail ("MCJ") in Los Angeles, California.
2.3
HRDC contends that from August 2015 through at least June 2017, the County
and certain Los Angeles Sheriff's Department officials improperly withheld from certain inmates
at M CJ PLN and other materials mailed by HRDC to those inmates, and then returned that mail
to HRDC. HRDC also asserts that the County failed to provide HRDC with sufficient notice and
an opportunity to be heard in connection with the withholding of that mail from those inmates.
2.4
HRDC is the plaintiff and the County and unnamed Sheriff's Department officials
(sued as Does 1 through 10) are the defendants in a lawsuit (the "Lawsuit") captioned Human
Rights Defense Center v. County ofLos Angeles, et al., Case No. 2:17-cv-04883-R-AS, filed on
July 3, 2017 in the United States District Court for the Central District of California. Among the
claims asserted by HRDC in the Lawsuit is a claim for violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
2.5
The purpose of this Agreement is to resolve all differences and disputes between
the Parties that existed on or prior to the effective date of this Agreement, including, but not
limited to, all differences and disputes arising from the claims and defenses asserted by the
Parties in the Lawsuit. This Agreement effects a settlement of claims, present and possible, that
are denied and contested. By entering into this Agreement, it is agreed and understood that no
Party is in any way admitting liability or wrongdoing of any sort.

3.
SETTLEMENT. In consideration of the mutual promises of the Parties to this
Agreement and the settlement contained herein, and for other good and valuable consideration,
the receipt and legal sufficiency of which are hereby acknowledged, the Parties to this

Agreement agree as follows:
3.1
Payment To HRDC. The County shall pay HRDC a total sum of two hundred
and fifty-three thousand dollars ($253,000.00) (the "Settlement Payment") as follows. Within

- 1SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT

60 calendar days following final approval by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors of
this Agreement, the County shall tender to Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld LLP, counsel for
HRDC, a check in the amount of the Settlement Payment, payable to "Human Rights Defense
Center." This Settlement Payment compensates HRDC for any and all claims asserted in the
Lawsuit, including all claims for attorneys' fees, costs, and/or expenses incurred as a result of the
Lawsuit and the dispute leading up to the Lawsuit. HRDC, and not the County, is responsible for
any and all tax liability that might be incurred by HRDC as a result of receipt of the Settlement
Payment.

3.2

Mutual General Releases.

(A)
Except as to such rights or claims as might be created by this Agreement,
HRDC hereby releases, acquits and forever discharges the County and all present and former
officials, commissioners, directors, officers, employees, deputies, agents, representatives,
attorneys, servants, affiliates, departments, divisions, branches, and commissions of the County
of and from any and all past, present, and future rights, actions, causes of actions, claims,
allegations, demands, damages, costs, expenses, attorneys' fees (alleged or incurred), penalties,
liens, and liabilities relating in any way to or arising out of the Lawsuit that existed on or prior to
the effective date of this Agreement, including but not limited to, those specifically alleged by
HRDC in the Lawsuit.
(B)
Except as to such rights or claims as might be created by this Agreement,
the County hereby releases, acquits and forever discharges HRDC and all present and former
directors, officers, employees, agents, representatives, attorneys, and servants of and from any
and all past, present, and future rights, actions, causes of actions, claims, allegations, demands,
damages, costs, expenses, attorneys' fees (alleged or incurred), penalties, liens, and liabilities
relating in any way to or arising out of the Lawsuit, that existed on or prior to the effective date
of this Agreement.

3.3
Release Of Unknown Claims. In giving the mutual general releases in
Paragraph 3 .2, supra, which include claims that might be unknown or unsuspected at present, the
Parties represent, warrant, and agree that they have been fully advised by their attorneys of the
contents of Section 1542 of the CIVIL CODE of the State of California. The Parties expressly
waive and relinquish all rights and benefits under that section and any similar statute or common
law principle of similar effect of any state or territory of the United States with respect to the
Released Claims. Section 1542 reads as follows:
"A GENERAL RELEASE DOES NOT EXTEND TO CLAIMS WHICH THE
CREDITOR DOES NOT KNOW OR SUSPECT TO EXIST IN HIS OR HER
FAVOR AT THE TIME OF EXECUTING THE RELEASE, WHICH IF
KNOWN BY HIM OR HER MUST HAVE MATERIALLY AFFECTED HIS
OR HER SETTLEMENT WITH THE DEBTOR."

3.4

Waiver. The Parties acknowledge that they are aware that they or their attorneys

might discover facts in addition to or different from those that they now know or believe to be
true with respect to the subject matter of this Agreement and assume the risks associated
therewith. It is the Parties' intention to settle and release fully, finally and forever, any and all
-2SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT

disputes, claims, causes of action and differences, known and unknown, suspected and
unsuspected, that now exist, may exist, have existed, or hereafter might exist in the future against
the County relating to the subject matter of the Lawsuit. Each Party hereby further
acknowledges that it understands the significance and the consequences of such a general release
of unknown claims and hereby assumes full responsibility for any injuries, damages, lawsuits or
liabilities that it might incur, both now and hereafter, from the waiver of said unknown claims.
Each Party acknowledges and represents that it has undertaken its own independent investigation
of all of the facts relating to the matters being released herein and this Agreement, and in entering
into this Agreement and granting the releases contained herein, is not relying on any
representation, warranty, or statement of any other Party except as expressly set forth herein.
Each Party acknowledges that this waiver is an essential and material term of this Agreement.
3.5
Settlement Of Equitable Claims. As part of this Agreement, the Parties shall
jointly file within ten (10) court days of the full execution of this Agreement by both Parties (1) a
motion to dismiss the claims for damages remaining in the Lawsuit, (2) a motion to dismiss the
pending Ninth Circuit appeal, and (3) consent to the continued jurisdiction of a Magistrate Judge
for purposes of enforcing the Settlement Of Equitable Claims ("Settlement'). The Settlement is
attached hereto as Exhibit A and shall be filed publicly with the motion to dismiss. The terms of
the Settlement are incorporated as if fully set forth herein.
3.6
Requirement Of Approval By County Authorities. This Agreement shall not
be binding on the Parties unless and until the Los Angeles County Claims Board and the Los
Angeles County Board of Supervisors have formally approved this Agreement and such formal
approval has been communicated to counsel for HRDC. HRDC's counsel shall provide the
County with the appropriate tax identification number and completed IRS Form W-9 federal tax
form prior to their receipt of the Settlement Payment. Any IRS Form 1099 and/or other tax
reporting forms issued by the County shall be issued using the provided tax identification
number.
4.
REPRESENTATIONS AND WARRANTIES. Each Party to this Agreement
acknowledges and agrees that the representations contained in this Paragraph 4 are essential and
material to this Agreement.

4.1
Each person signing this Agreement on behalf of an entity warrants and represents
that she or he is competent and authorized to enter into this Agreement on behalf of the entity
Party for which she or he purports to sign. Each Party that is an entity has all requisite corporate
or governmental power and authority, and has taken all corporate action necessary, to execute
and deliver this Agreement and to perform its obligations hereunder.
4.2

Each Party to this Agreement represents, warrants, and agrees as follows:

(A)
It has received legal advice from its attorneys with respect to the
advisability of making the settlement provided for in this Agreement.
(B)

It has read this Agreement and understands its contents.

(C)
It is the sole owner and holder of the claims, demands, defenses, or causes
of action covered by this Agreement, and it has not assigned, transferred, granted, conveyed or
-3SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT

otherwise disposed of, or purported to assign, transfer, or grant, convey or otherwise dispose of,
any of such claims, demands, defenses, or causes of action.

5.

MISCELLANEOUS.

5.1
Except for claims resulting from alleged breach of this Agreement, or any
provision herein, each Party covenants and agrees not to file or prosecute any legal action or
proceeding based on or arising out of any claim released herein. Nothing stated herein shall
affect the rights of HRDC to seek enforcement and/or compliance with the Settlement pursuant to
the terms of that Settlement, nor shall it affect the rights of HRDC to file a new legal action or
proceeding based on alleged censorship or denial of due process by the County that occurs after
the effective date of this Agreement.
5.2
If any provision of this Agreement is held to be invalid or unenforceable, the
remaining terms and conditions hereof shall not be affected thereby and shall remain in full force
and effect.

5.3
Each Party has cooperated in the drafting and preparation of this Agreement.
Therefore, in any construction to be made of the Agreement, the same shall not be construed
against any Party.
5.4
This Agreement is the entire agreement between the Parties with respect to the
subject matter hereof and supersedes all prior and contemporaneous oral and written agreements,
understandings, negotiations and discussions, whether oral or written, of the Parties, and there
are no warranties, representations, or other agreements between the Parties in connection with
the subject matter hereof other than as set forth herein. This Agreement may be amended only by
an agreement in writing signed by the Party sought to be bound.

5.5
Notice And Cure In The Event Of A Claimed Breach. In the event a Party
discovers or believes that another Party is not in compliance with any of the terms of this
Agreement, the Party making such discovery or having such belief shall notify the potentially
breaching Party in writing of such breach or claimed breach, specifying the applicable
provisions, and thereafter the potentially breaching Party shall have fifteen (15) calendar days
from receipt of the notice within which to cure such breach or claimed breach, if such breach or
claimed breach is curable, before any dispute resolution proceeding, as described in Paragraph
5.6, infra, can be initiated based on such breach or claimed breach. All notices, requests,
consents, and other communications required or permitted pursuant to this Agreement shall be in
writing and shall be (a) hand-delivered or mailed by registered or certified mail with postage
prepaid, and (b) delivered by e-mail, as follows:
(A)

Ifto HRDC, to:
Sabarish Neelakanta, General Counsel
HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENSE CENTER
P.O. Box 1151
Lake Worth, Florida 33460
Telephone: (561) 360-2523

-4SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT

Email: sneelakanta@hrdc-law.org
With a copy to:
Jeffrey L. Bornstein
ROSEN BIEN GALVAN & GRUNFELD LLP
50 Fremont Street, 19th Floor
San Francisco, California 94105-2235
Telephone: (415) 433-6830
Facsimile: (415) 433-7104
Email: jbornstein@rbgg.com

(B)

If to the County, to:

With a copy to:
Kent R. Raygor, Esq.
SHEPPARD MULLIN RICHTER & HAMPTON LLP
1901 A venue of the Stars, l 61h Floor
Los Angeles, California 90067
Telephone:
(310) 228-3700
Facsimile:
(310) 228-3701
E-mail:
kraygor@sheppardmullin.com

5.6
Dispute Resolution. In the event a controversy or claim arises out of or relating
to this Agreement, including the Settlement, the Parties shall work in good faith to resolve that
dispute themselves. If the Parties are unable to resolve the dispute through negotiation, the
Parties shall refer such dispute to mediation before an independent mediator jointly selected
through JAMS. In the event of such mediation, the Parties shall split the mediator's fees equally.
If the Parties are unable to resolve their dispute through mediation, either Party may initiate a
lawsuit before a Court of appropriate subject matter jurisdiction in federal court in the Central
District of California, or, if the dispute arises out of the Settlement, the Parties may seek
enforcement of the Settlement by the Court. Once the Parties have conducted one mediation
session, either Party may declare the mediation at an impasse and either initiate a lawsuit or seek
Court enforcement of the Settlement, depending on the nature of the dispute. California law
(without giving effect to California's choice or conflict oflaw principles) shall govern the
enforceability of this Agreement and any controversy or claim arising out of or relating to this
Agreement.

5. 7
This Agreement may be executed in separate counterparts, each of which shall be
considered an original but all of which shall constitute one Agreement.

-5SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT

5.8

No supplement, modification, waiver, or amendment with respect to this
Agreement shall be binding unless executed in writing and signed by the Party against whom
enforcement of such supplement, modification, waiver, or amendment is sought.

5.9
Effective Date. The effective date of this Agreement and the Settlement attached
hereto as Exhibit A is the date on which this Agreement has been fully executed by both Parties,
signed counterparts have been exchanged, and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has
approved the Agreement.
DATED: _ _ _ _ _ _, 2018

HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENSE CENTER

DATED: _ _ _ _ _ _, 2018

COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES

By~------------~

-6SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT

EXHIBIT A: SETTLEMENT OF EQUITABLE CLAIMS
I.

DURATION AND TEMPORAL LIMITATIONS OF SETTLEMENT

A.
This Settlement Of Equitable Claims (the "Settlement") between Human Rights
Defense Center ("HRDC") and the County of Los Angeles (the "County") (hereinafter
collectively referred to as "the Parties") shall remain enforceable by the Court upon approval of
the Court and until January 1 , 2022. After that date, enforcement by the Court shall terminate
upon the filing of a successful motion by the County demonstrating that further Court oversight
is not warranted.
B.
The County agrees to implement the terms of this Settlement within thirty (30)
days of the date of the entry of an Order from the United States District Court for the Central
District of California approving this Settlement.
C.
The Parties agree that during the term of this Settlement, the County may adopt
policies and procedures that are consistent with statutory or case law that becomes controlling
after the signing of this Settlement. The County agrees to provide HRDC's counsel with notice
of such changes in policies and procedures 90 days before their intended effective date during
the term of this Settlement.
D.
Notwithstanding Sections (l)(B) and (C), supra, the Parties agree that any time
limits for the County to complete certain matters as set forth in this Settlement may be extended
upon mutual consent of the Parties and the Parties shall endeavor in good faith to agree upon a
reasonable extension of the particular deadline in question.

II.

TERMS OF SETTLEMENT

A.
The County represents and warrants that it does not presently have a policy in its
jails pursuant to which it rejects periodicals that are not the "current issue". The County agrees
not to implement such a policy in the future, subject to Section l(C), supra.
B.
The County represents and warrants that it does not presently have a policy
pursuant to which it rejects magazines sent to inmates classified as "K-1 O" in its jails. The
County agrees not to implement such policy in the future, unless such policy satisfies the test set
forth in Turner v. Safley, 482 U.S. 78 (1987), and particularly that any such policy must have a
valid, rational, connection to safety in the jail system, subject to Section I(C), supra.
C.
The County represents and warrants that it has implemented an appeals process
for withheld mail consistent with Procunier v. Martinez, 416 U.S. 396 (1974). The County
agrees that it will maintain such a policy, subject to Section I(C), supra.
D.
The County agrees to provide training to its personnel on the policies described in
Sections (II)(A)-(C), supra.
E.
The County agrees to post its most current mail policy on its website within thirty
(30) days of the effective date of this Settlement.
-1SETTLEMENT OF EQUITABLE CLAIMS

F.
The parties agree that this Settlement shall be submitted to the Court for entry of
an order by the Court to retain jurisdiction for purposes of enforcement.
III.

DISPUTE RESOLUTION

In the event a controversy or claim arises out of or relating to this Settlement, the Parties
shall work in good faith to resolve that dispute themselves. As part of the dispute resolution
process, the County agrees to provide HRDC with reasonable access to information related to
any decision by the County to withhold mail sent by HRDC to inmates in the County's custody.
If the Parties are unable to resolve the dispute through negotiation, the Parties shall refer such
dispute to mediation before an independent mediator jointly selected through JAMS. In the
event of such mediation, the Parties shall split the mediator's fees equally. If the Parties are
unable to resolve their dispute through mediation, either Party may bring the matter to the Court
for resolution. Once the Parties have conducted one mediation session, either Party may declare
the mediation at an impasse and seek enforcement by the Court.
IV.

MISCELLANEOUS

A.
Nothing contained herein shall be deemed to be an admission by the Defendants
of liability or of the truth of any of the allegations set forth in HRDC 's Complaint, or that they
have in any manner violated the rights of HRDC or any person.
B.
This Settlement may be executed in counterparts or by facsimile and/or by
attachment to an email.
C.
This Settlement constitutes the entire agreement as to the equitable claims
between the Parties and supersedes all prior understandings, whether oral or written, between the
parties. The Parties have resolved all matters involving monetary payment (including the matters
of damages, costs, and attorneys' fees) by separate agreement.
DATED:

'2..<;-ft, ~~~~ri

HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENSE CENTER

wlli

DATED: _ _ _ _ _ _, 2018

COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES

-2SETTLEMENT OF EQUITABLE CLAIMS
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