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Nevada Prisoner Receives $500, Other Considerations, in Settlement of Complaint Asserting Numerous Civil Rights Violations

On April 18, 2016, the Nevada Department of' Corrections (NDOC) agreed to pay a state prisoner $500 and make other policy changes' as part of a settlement agreement resolving the federal civil rights action which alleged, among other things, free speech, due process, equal protection, and freedom of religion violations.             

John Quintero, a prisoner at the Northern Nevada Correctional Center (NNCC) in Carson City, Nevada, filed a 42 U.S.C. Sect 1983 civil rights complaint in the United States District Court in Nevada in March 2015.  In his fourth amended complaint, Quintero charged NNCC officials with 12 counts of various civil rights violations. Among those were the following:

Religious discrimination for allowing other religious groups to utilize the chapel while not allowing his Catholic group the same access; restricting his right to write letters to his Catholic sponsor; refusing to allow delivery of foreign language CD's and textbooks; refusing to deliver mail with return address stickers on them; refusing to allow Quintero to receive a Catholic magazine called "Dappled Things"; and other various claims relating to law library access and grievance procedures.

Quintero also asked the court for protection from retaliation by NNCC officials because of, as he described it, his "reasonable litigious predisposition." Quintero said he anticipated that he would end up in the prison's "lock-down units” as retaliation for his lawsuit and asked the court to prevent it.

Acting pro se, Quintero entered into a settlement agreement with NDOC attorneys, which, in addition to the $500 payment, also included several remedial considerations. NDOC agreed to allow Catholics to hold rosary service in areas outside the chapel when the chapel was not open or available. Quintero also won the right to write to clergy of his choice without interference. Other changes agreed to by NDOC include increased law library access, reinstatement of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and dissemination of binders containing prison policies in each living unit.

The NDOC agreed to pay Quintero within 30 days of the agreement and to make the other changes within 30-45 days. The settlement agreement was silent on the issue relating Quintero’s retaliation concerns. NDOC admitted to no wrongdoing or liability and each party was responsible for its own costs. See: Quintero v. Palmer, at al., Case No. 3:15-cv-00160-MMD-WCG (U.S.D.C. NV).

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Related legal case

Quintero v. Palmer, at al.