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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
FORT LAUDERDALE DIVISION
__________________________________________
)
D.L., by and through his next friend, )
Lisa Lampkin; on behalf of himself and )
all persons similarly situated; and D.B., by and )
through his next friend, Tara Bostick, )
)
Plaintiffs, )
)
v. ) Case No.______________________
)
JAMES SLATTERY, President of Youth Services )
International; FRANK PETERMAN, JR., in his )
official capacity as Secretary of the Florida )
Department of Juvenile Justice; CRAIG )
FERGUSON, in his official and individual )
capacities as Facility Administrator of YSI )
Thompson Academy; Mr. AUGUSTINE in his )
official and individual capacities as a youth )
counselor at Thompson Academy; and Mr. )
PRESLEY in his official and individual capacities )
as a youth counselor at Thompson Academy, )
)
Defendants. )
__________________________________________)
COMPLAINT
1. This is a civil rights class action filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 to protect the rights of
children imprisoned at Thompson Academy, a private, for-profit juvenile prison owned by Youth
Services International (“YSI”) and operated on behalf of the Florida Department of Juvenile
Justice (“DJJ”). Youth confined at Thompson Academy describe the facility as a frightening and
violent place where they are subject to abusive and unconstitutional conditions, including
repeated physical and sexual abuse perpetrated by guards, which is ignored and encouraged
through the negligence of staff, supervisors, the facility administrator, and officials at DJJ. YSI
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ensures its ability to abuse children with impunity by denying youth access to lawyers who could
help protect them.
2. YSI facilities are operated at a high cost to Florida taxpayers, who pay over $74 million
for these institutions. Despite this price tag, Florida’s children regularly endure unspeakable
abuses at the hands of YSI staff and the state officials who allow YSI to operate in violation of
state and federal law.
3. Plaintiff D.L. and the class he seeks to represent languish in hot and moldy living units
that lack air conditioning; and children with asthma are forced to evacuate to other living units
where they must sleep on the floor. YSI staff at Thompson Academy subject youth to brutal and
excessive physical force on a regular basis to intimidate and terrorize youth: children are choked
and slammed head first into concrete walls, their arms and fingers are bent back and twisted to
inflict pain for infractions as minor as failing to follow an order to stand up. Plaintiff D.B.
endured two harrowing sexual assaults at the hands of a YSI employee. The Facility
Administrator ignored his plea for assistance and exposed D.B. and possibly other youth at
Thompson to further sexual abuse by the same staff person. This abuse flourishes against the
backdrop of YSI and DJJ’s policy and practice barring children from accessing both the courts
and lawyers who could help them challenge their conditions of confinement.
4. Youth Services International’s reputation is marred by egregious conditions in its
facilities in other states. Children have reported repeated sexual abuse and exploitation by staff,
appalling physical and emotional abuse, and a shocking failure by YSI to respond to these
allegations and protect the children entrusted to their care. One child even died while in the
custody of a YSI facility in Iowa. See Pipe vs. Hubbard, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 55772 (2010)
(Plaintiff detainee claimed he was sexually assaulted by a correctional officer employed by YSI
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and YSI failed to take any action); Brown v. Youth Services International, 89 F. Supp. 2d 1095
(2000) (Youth incarcerated at a YSI detention facility sued for repeated sexual abuse,
molestation and exploitation committed by a YSI counselor); Burton v. Youth Services
International, 176 F.R.D. 517 (1997) (Plaintiff detainee alleged that Defendant YSI failed to
address his concerns about his assigned roommate, who later raped him). Similarly, a counselor
at Forest Ridge Youth Services, a YSI operated facility in Iowa, plead guilty to charges of
sexually exploiting a female resident of the facility. See http://sparkaction.org/node/32921.
Forest Ridge Youth Services was subject to additional scrutiny when the Department of Health
Services began an investigation into charges that youth were frequently physically and
emotionally abused by inexperienced staff. Id. The investigation found “appalling” conditions
suffered by youth detainees. Id. In 1995, a female detainee at Forest Ridge Youth Services, died
in route to the hospital after complaining to staff about repeated chest and leg pain. Id. Her
initial weight, 145 pounds, dropped to less than 100 pounds and despite requests from her mother
to hospitalize her, she remained at the detention facility until she collapsed and was transported
to a nearby emergency room. Id. There, her injuries were deemed too severe to be treated
locally and she died during helicopter transport to a larger hospital. Id. In spite of this
reputation, Florida’s Department of Juvenile Justice has chosen to contract with YSI to provide
care and supervision to hundreds of vulnerable youth.
5. Plaintiff D.L., individually and on behalf of the Plaintiff class, a class composed of all
youth who are now confined or who will in the future be confined at Thompson Academy, seeks
declaratory, preliminary, and permanent injunctive relief requiring that the Defendants cease
their unlawful policies and practices. On behalf of himself, Plaintiff D.B. seeks declaratory
relief, compensatory, and punitive damages.
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PARTIES
6. Plaintiff D.L. is a 16-year-old boy currently incarcerated in the Falcon Unit at Thompson
Academy. On behalf of himself and all similarly situated children, he brings this action by and
through his next friend and mother, Lisa Lampkin. D.L. has been confined at Thompson
Academy since February 16, 2010, where he has endured brutal physical assaults from adult staff
members, intimidation, harassment and retaliation for speaking with his attorneys, and has been
denied his right to see his attorneys. The abuse D.L. has suffered at the hands of YSI staff is
typical of the experiences of many children confined to the facility who similarly describe
Thompson Academy as violent and abusive.
7. Plaintiff D.B. is a 15-year-old boy who was incarcerated in the Eagle Unit at Thompson
Academy until Friday, October 1, 2010. D.B. endured two sexual assaults by a YSI employee
during his incarceration at Thompson Academy. D.B. brings this action by and through his next
friend and mother, Tara Bostick.
8. Defendant James Slattery is the President of Youth Services International, a private, forprofit
corporation that contracts with DJJ to operate nine juvenile correctional facilities,
including Thompson Academy. Under the terms of the contract executed by DJJ and YSI, YSI is
responsible for overseeing the daily operations at Thompson Academy and operating the facility
in compliance with state and federal law.
9. Defendant Frank Peterman, Jr. is Secretary of the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice
and as such is responsible for “planning, coordinating, and managing the delivery of all programs
and services within the juvenile justice continuum,” including “detention centers and related
programs and facilities” and “delinquency institutions provided or funded by the department.”
Fla. Stat. § 20.316(1)(b) (2010). Further, the Secretary of DJJ shall “ensure that juvenile justice
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continuum programs and services are implemented according to legislative intent, state and
federal laws, rules, and regulations…” and “coordinate staff development and training.” Fla.
Stat. § 20.316(1)(c)(1),(4) (2010). Frank Peterman, Jr. is sued in his official capacity as
Secretary of DJJ.
10. Defendant Dr. Craig Ferguson is the Facility Administrator of Thompson Academy and
is employed by YSI. As Director of Thompson Academy, Defendant Ferguson exercises
administrative control of and has responsibility for Thompson Academy. He is responsible for
the day-to-day operations of the facility and supervises all conditions and practices therein.
Defendant Ferguson directly supervises Thompson Academy staff and is responsible for the
implementation of policy and procedure at Thompson Academy. Dr. Ferguson is sued in his
individual and official capacities.
11. Defendant Augustine is an employee of YSI and a youth counselor at Thompson
Academy. In that capacity, he is directly responsible for the safety and care of children,
maintaining order and security, providing secure transportation, assisting in therapy treatments,
and maintaining required logs, records and reports. Defendant Augustine is sued in his
individual and official capacities. Defendant Augustine’s first name is unknown to Plaintiffs at
this time.
12. Defendant Presley is an employee of YSI and a youth counselor at Thompson Academy.
In that capacity, he is directly responsible for the safety and care of children, maintaining order
and security, providing secure transportation, assisting in therapy treatments, and maintaining
required logs, records and reports. Defendant Presley is sued in his individual and official
capacities. Defendant Presley’s first name is unknown to Plaintiffs at this time.
JURISDICTION AND VENUE
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13. The Plaintiffs’ cause of action arises under the First, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments
to the United States Constitution and 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
14. Jurisdiction is invoked pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and § 1343(a). This Court has
jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1367 over Plaintiff D.B.’s state law claims, as they are so related
to the federal claims in this action that they form a part of the same case or controversy under the
Constitution and laws of the United States.
15. Venue is proper under 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b)(2) because a “substantial part of the events or
omissions giving rise to the claims[s] occurred” in this district.
CLASS ACTION ALLEGATIONS
16. Plaintiff D.L. brings this suit on his own behalf and on behalf of all children who are, or
will in the future be, confined at Thompson Academy.
17. The class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impractical. Thompson Academy
can house over 150 youth, and over 180 male youth were released from Thompson Academy in
fiscal year 2008. Youth remain in Thompson Academy for varying lengths of time and the
population changes on a daily basis. The class also includes future members whose names are
not known pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(a)(1).
18. There are questions of law and fact common to all class members, including but not
limited to the Defendants’ failure to provide class members with constitutionally safe and
humane conditions of confinement, protect class members from harm and excessive force,
Defendants’ deprivation of class members’ right to meaningful, effective and adequate access to
the courts, and Defendants’ retaliation against class members for exercising their First
Amendment rights. Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(a)(2).
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19. The claims of D.L. are typical of the claims of the class because the policies, practices
and customs challenged in this Complaint apply with equal force to Plaintiff D.L. and the other
youth confined at Thompson Academy at this time and in the future. Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(a)(3).
20. Plaintiff D.L. will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class. He possesses a
strong personal interest in the subject matter of the lawsuit and is represented by experienced
counsel with expertise in class action litigation on behalf of children in federal court. Counsel
has the legal knowledge and resources to fairly and adequately represent the interests of all class
members in this action. Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(a)(4).
21. The Defendants have acted and refused to act on grounds generally applicable to the class
in that Defendants’ policies and practices of violating Plaintiff D.L.’s constitutional rights have
affected all class members. Accordingly, final injunctive and declaratory relief is appropriate to
the class as a whole. Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(b)(2).
STATEMENT OF FACTS
22. Thompson Academy is a “non-secure” 154-bed, “moderate risk” residential facility for
male youth from ages 13 to 18 years-old. “Moderate risk” facilities are generally for those youth
who have committed property offenses and their “offending is characterized by frequent and
repeated law violations” as opposed to public safety concerns. See
http://www.djj.state.fl.us/Residential/restrictiveness.html#Moderate. Program models for
moderate risk youth include “halfway houses, wilderness camps and youth academies.” Id.
23. Thompson Academy is operated by YSI, a for-profit, correctional corporation. YSI is
under contract with DJJ to operate Thompson Academy. DJJ and YSI are responsible for
ensuring that Thompson Academy operates its program in compliance with state and federal law.
Despite this requirement, Defendant DJJ has allowed, and in some cases instructed YSI and
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Thompson Academy to violate the rights of children by subjecting them to harmful and
unconstitutional conditions and denying children their right to access the courts to challenge their
conditions of confinement.
24. Defendant Peterman and the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice are charged under
Florida statute with monitoring privately contracted facilities such as Thompson Academy, to
ensure compliance with state and federal laws, state administrative policies, DJJ policies and
procedures, and contract terms and conditions. DJJ’s monitors are required to review all of YSI
and Thompson Academy’s records, conduct announced and unannounced visits, observe the
facility’s daily operations, and conduct detailed private interviews with youth. See CONTRACT
MANAGEMENT AND PROGRAM MONITORING GUIDELINES, FLA. DEPT. OF JUV. JUSTICE (2009),
available at
http://www.djj.state.fl.us/policies_procedures/General_Counsel/Contracts/Contract_Monitoring_
Guidelines_Res-Prob-Dec09.pdf.
25. Defendant YSI is required to report any incident that “has the potential to disrupt the
normal operations of the facility or program [or] may bring public attention to the department.”
See Fla. Dept. of Juv. Justice Policy § 8000, available at
http://www.djj.state.fl.us/policies_procedures/Inspector_General/CCC_Policy_rev12-06.pdf.
26. DJJ’s oversight and monitoring responsibilities, combined with YSI and Thompson
Academy’s reporting requirements ensures that Defendants Peterman and Slattery have direct
and substantial knowledge of the unconstitutional and unlawful policies, practices, and
conditions that harm youth confined at Thompson Academy. Despite this knowledge,
Defendants Peterman and Slattery have failed to take action to prevent the violation of Plaintiff’s
constitutional rights.
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Violation of Plaintiff D.L.’s Right to Protection from Harm and Access to Courts
27. Through the Broward County Public Defender, several parents requested that SPLC staff
visit their children because they were concerned about conditions at Thompson Academy.
Beginning on or about September 8, 2010, staff from the Southern Poverty Law Center
(“SPLC”), in association with Florida attorney Matthew Farmer, began conducting legal visits at
Thompson Academy. During these visits, several youth, including both named Plaintiffs, signed
attorney representation notices with SPLC, and requested additional meetings with SPLC to
discuss conditions at Thompson Academy.
28. Shortly after SPLC started visiting clients at Thompson Academy, some of the staff,
including Defendant Ferguson, began questioning youth about their confidential meetings with
SPLC. Staff, including Defendant Ferguson, discouraged youth from meeting with SPLC and
told youth that SPLC just wanted to “shut down the program” and would not be able to help
youth with their problems.
29. Defendant Ferguson pressured a number of youth to sign or write statements saying that
they no longer wanted to meet with SPLC. On or about September 20, 2010, Dr. Ferguson met
with Plaintiff D.L. and asked him to sign a statement saying that he was not interested in meeting
with David Utter from SPLC. Defendant Ferguson offered to take Plaintiff D.L. out of his
“jumper” and put him in a regular uniform if he signed the form. Youth at Thompson Academy
are put in a jumpsuit or “jumper” as a form of punishment, and each day they spend in a jumpsuit
adds additional days to their confinement at Thompson. Plaintiff D.L. refused to sign the form,
and Defendant Ferguson did not take D.L. out of his jumpsuit that day, which added time to
D.L.’s commitment at Thompson Academy.
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30. On or about September 27, 2010, Defendant Augustine physically assaulted Plaintiff D.L.
in the Falcon Unit dayroom at Thompson Academy without provocation. Defendant Augustine
instructed D.L. to stand up and then called D.L. a “fuck nigger.” When D.L. responded that
Defendant Augustine could not call him that, Defendant Augustine continued to direct abusive,
racial epithets toward D.L.
31. Upon information and belief, YSI policy requires staff to give youth seven verbal
warnings or commands before using physical force. Defendant Augustine told D.L. to “get up”
several times in quick succession, and then immediately grabbed D.L. by his collar, picked him
up and pressed him against the wall. Defendant Augustine proceeded to choke D.L. while
pressing him against the wall, which prevented D.L. from breathing. D.L. tried to push
Defendant Augustine’s arms away and told Defendant Augustine to let him go, to which
Defendant Augustine replied, “no, fuck nigger you let me go.”
32. Other guards intervened and Defendant Augustine initially let D.L. go. D.L. tried to sit
down but Defendant Augustine approached him again and said, “I know you scared now.”
Defendant Augustine then “chicken winged” D.L. by twisting D.L.’s arms behind his back,
which caused D.L. to experience extreme pain and discomfort. Defendant Augustine then
slammed D.L.’s head into the metal door outside the day room and yelled to D.L., “tighten up
you pussy ass jit.”
33. Other staff intervened again and Defendant Augustine let D.L. go but only to move D.L.
to the hallway, away from the other youth. Defendant Augustine then grabbed D.L. by the top of
his jumper and tried to slam D.L., head first, into the concrete wall. D.L. had to reach out with
his hands to prevent his head from smashing against the concrete wall. Defendant Augustine
then dragged D.L. by his jumper down the hall, throwing him at the wall as he went.
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34. Staff intervened again and Defendant Augustine released D.L. D.L. went back to the day
room and told other staff that he wanted to call the central child abuse hotline to report
Defendant Augustine’s excessive and abusive use of force. The staff replied, “just calm down,
we’re gonna talk this through, just calm down.”
35. The supervisor on duty, Ms. Smith, took D.L. into an office and told D.L. that it was
unnecessary to call the abuse hotline because the incident would be written up no matter what
and calling the hotline would be redundant.
36. Later that day, Ms. Smith called D.L. out of class to meet with Mr. Emmanuel, the
Director of Operations for Thompson Academy. Mr. Emmanuel had a document acknowledging
that D.L. waived his right to call the abuse hotline, and that the facility had not dissuaded D.L.
from calling. D.L. asked Mr. Emmanuel whether he would be “written up” if he called the abuse
hotline, because getting “written up” would extend his commitment to Thompson Academy.
Afraid of what would happen to him if he called the abuse hotline, D.L. signed the waiver.
37. On or about September 29, 2010, D.L. was told to come to the “DCS” room by YSI staff
members Mr. Clark and Mr. Rogers. D.L. was promised that the incident with Defendant
Augustine would be overlooked, he would be taken out of his jumpsuit, have his privilege of
working in the cafeteria and getting extra food restored, and Thompson Academy would send his
pre-release notification1 (“PRN”) to the juvenile court if and only if D.L. signed a document
stating that he no longer wanted to speak to or be represented by David Utter and SPLC. Despite
being fearful that he would have his time at Thompson extended and be blamed for Defendant
Augustine’s violent actions if he refused, D.L. declined to do so. Upon information and belief,
Defendant Ferguson allowed Plaintiff D.L. to change into his regular uniform, but did not restore
1 The pre-release notification, or PRN, must be sent to the juvenile court in order for a youth to be
released from
Thompson Academy.
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his cafeteria privilege or send his PRN to the juvenile court that day. Defendant Ferguson’s
actions and inactions were direct retaliation for D.L. exercising his First Amendment rights.
38. On or about September 30, 2010, staff member Ms. Jackson (who is referred to as “02”
because she is second in command at the facility), told D.L. that D.L.’s lawyers are “trying to get
this program shut down” and asked if D.L. was going to sign the document waiving access to his
attorneys and SPLC. Ms. Jackson told D.L. that she noticed that he was not in his jumper and
then told D.L. that he would not have to worry about any consequences for the incident with
Augustine if he wrote a statement refusing to speak with SPLC. D.L. refused to write such a
statement. As a result, Defendant Ferguson did not restore D.L.’s cafeteria privilege, nor did he
send D.L.’s PRN to the juvenile court, which deprived D.L. of the opportunity for release and
prolonged his confinement at Thompson Academy. Defendant Ferguson’s actions and inactions
were direct retaliation for D.L. exercising his First Amendment rights.
39. On or about September 30, 2010, Plaintiff’s counsel arrived at Thompson Academy to
visit with clients. Thompson Academy staff presented SPLC with documents on Thompson
letterhead from five clients declaring that they are “not interested in speaking with David Utter
or his staff about legal issues and do not want legal representation.” An additional four
handwritten statements from clients were presented by Thompson staff. One of these statements
was written by Plaintiff D.B. D.B. wrote this statement in Dr. Ferguson’s office on or around
September 21, 2010 after Dr. Ferguson told D.B. and another youth that SPLC was messing up
their future and could not help them with their cases. Dr. Ferguson provided D.B. and the other
youth with a can of soda during this meeting. Upon information and belief, youth at Thompson
Academy do not have regular access to soda without special permission.
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40. When Plaintiff’s counsel asked for permission to discuss these statements directly with
clients, Thompson Academy staff denied such access. Upon information and belief, Defendant
Ferguson directed other YSI staff to deny SPLC access to their clients.
41. Plaintiff D.L. never signed a statement refusing to meet with SPLC. On or about
September 30, 2010, Plaintiff’s counsel was able to visit with Plaintiff D.L. During this meeting,
Plaintiff D.L. requested that SPLC file two grievances on his behalf alleging excessive use of
force by Defendant Augustine and denial of access to courts. Plaintiff D.L. complained that he
could not make phone calls to his attorney without his counselor’s permission and that he could
not make these phone calls in private. D.L. also complained that YSI refused to allow him to
make phone calls to his attorney.
42. After leaving Thompson Academy on September 30, 2010, Plaintiff’s counsel sent a
demand letter to Defendant Peterman describing the inability of youth to make confidential
phone calls to attorneys, Defendant Ferguson’s unlawful interference with youths’ right to access
the courts, and Defendant Ferguson’s attempt to procure statements from youth waiving their
right to speak with an attorney.
43. On or about September 27, 2010, Plaintiff D.B.’s mother informed SPLC that Plaintiff
D.B. wished to retract his statement waiving his right to speak with an attorney. When D.B. met
with SPLC on the morning of Friday, October 1, SPLC staff learned for the first time that the
youth had been sexually assaulted by Defendant Presley, a YSI employee, on two separate
occasions. D.B. also stated that he had reported this abuse to Defendant Ferguson a number of
months ago, but Dr. Ferguson had done nothing to remove Defendant Presley from his
employment at Thompson Academy or to protect D.B. and other youth from Defendant Presley’s
abusive behavior.
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44. Plaintiff’s counsel attempted to meet with Plaintiff D.B. a second time on October 1,
2010 to monitor D.B.’s safety and well-being. When SPLC staff arrived at Thompson Academy,
they were informed that they could not meet with any youth. Plaintiff’s counsel, David Utter,
then checked his voicemail and received a message from Jennifer Parker, General Counsel at
DJJ, stating that youth in the custody of DJJ may only communicate with lawyers who are
“counsel of record.” DJJ regulations state that youth in residential programs may only meet and
communicate with their “counsel or record,” which excludes attorneys who are not currently
representing youth in their delinquency proceeding or another legal matter. See Dept. of Juv.
Justice Reg. 63E-7. DJJ has also taken the position that a youth’s defense attorney may not
speak to youth in DJJ custody if the juvenile court has already rendered a final disposition in the
youth’s case. Youth in DJJ custody therefore have no ability to speak to an attorney about their
conditions of confinement.
45. On or about Tuesday, October 5, 2010, Plaintiff’s counsel sent a confirmation letter to
Ms. Parker regarding her voicemail on October 1, 2010. On the same day, Ms. Parker sent a
letter stating that Thompson Academy’s “operating procedures allow for confidential meetings
and phone calls between youth in the Academy and their attorneys.” She further stated that the
“staff [would] be reminded that communications between a youth and his counsel are
confidential.” On the morning of October 6, 2010, SPLC attorney, Mr. Utter, was finally
permitted to visit with D.L.
46. Youth at Thompson Academy are still unable to access phones for confidential calls with
attorneys. Youth are barred from making any phone contact with their attorneys—with the
exception of the rare occasion when a case manager allows youth to make a phone call. Even
when youth contact their attorneys from their case manager’s office, youth are prohibited from
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conducting confidential conversations with their attorneys because case mangers and other staff
are present. Defendants Peterman, Slattery, and Ferguson are responsible for establishing
policies and procedures to enable youth to access the courts and communicate with their
attorneys through confidential phone calls, as required by the U.S. Constitution and Constitution
of the State of Florida, but have failed to do so. Defendants Slattery, and Ferguson have instead
implemented policies and practices that restrict Plaintiff D.L. and the proposed class from
contacting an attorney and accessing the courts to challenge conditions of confinement.
Defendants Slattery and Ferguson have also implemented, enforced, and or sanctioned a policy
and practice of retaliating against D.L. and the proposed class for exercising their First and
Fourteenth Amendment rights to access the courts to challenge their conditions of confinement.
By their failure to comply with state and federal law, Defendants Peterman, Slattery, Ferguson,
and Augustine continue to subject youth confined at Thompson Academy to an unacceptable risk
of constitutional violations which manifests in egregious abuses like those suffered by D.L.
47. Defendant Peterman monitors and receives information from YSI and Thompson
Academy on a regular basis and is aware of the policies and practices at Thompson Academy.
Defendant Peterman is aware that YSI and Thompson Academy violate state and federal law by
denying youth meaningful and adequate access to the courts and is aware that YSI and
Thompson Academy retaliate against youth for exercising their First Amendment rights.
Defendant Peterman and DJJ have failed to protect Plaintiff D.L.’s constitutional rights and have
instead formulated policy and instructed YSI and Thompson Academy to deny youth, including
Plaintiff D.L., access to phone calls and visits with attorneys to challenge unconstitutional
conditions of confinement at Thompson Academy. As a result of Defendant Peterman’s actions
and inactions, youth at Thompson Academy are denied adequate and meaningful access to the
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courts and suffer retaliation for exercising their First Amendment right to challenge their
conditions of confinement.
48. Defendants Slattery and Ferguson are aware that YSI staff regularly use excessive and
inappropriate force against youth confined at Thompson Academy, in violation of their rights
under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. By their failure to
comply with federal law, Defendants Slattery and Ferguson fail to protect youth from harm and
exhibit deliberate indifference to the constitutional rights of youth by continuing to subject youth
at Thompson Academy to an unacceptable risk of excessive and abusive force.
49. Defendant Peterman monitors Thompson Academy and is aware that youth at Thompson
Academy are subject to excessive and abusive force in violation of their constitutional rights.
Despite this knowledge, Defendant Peterman has failed to take appropriate action to ensure that
youth confined at Thompson Academy are protected from harm and are free from excessive
force, as required by the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. By his
failure to take action to reform polices and practices at Thompson Academy, Defendant
Peterman fails to protect youth from harm and exhibits deliberate indifference to the
constitutional rights of youth by continuing to subject youth at Thompson Academy to an
unacceptable risk of excessive and abusive force.
Staff-on-Youth Sexual Assault of Plaintiff D.B.
50. Defendant Presley sexually assaulted Plaintiff D.B. on two separate occasions at
Thompson Academy by forcing D.B. to perform oral sex. Plaintiff D.B. reported the first assault
to multiple YSI staff members, including Defendant Ferguson. However, Defendants never
removed Defendant Presley from his position and allowed him to have continued contact with
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youth, including Plaintiff D.B. Consequently, Defendant Presley had the opportunity to commit
a second sexual assault on D.B. in or around August, 2010.
51. In or about February or March 2010, D.B. was alone in the laundry room at Thompson
Academy on “work privilege duty” which allowed him to perform chores like doing the laundry
instead of staying in the dayroom. Defendant Presley entered the laundry room and grabbed his
own crotch and asked “are you going to suck it?” D.B. refused, but Defendant Presley continued
to demand that he perform oral sex. Eventually, Defendant Presley pulled out his penis and
forced D.B. to perform oral sex. When Defendant Presley ejaculated, D.B. spit out Defendant
Presley’s semen into a rag. Defendant Presley then left the laundry room.
52. D.B. immediately reported the sexual assault to a staff person named Treva Hutchinson, a
Thompson Academy staff member whom he trusted, and showed her the rag that contained
Defendant Presley’s semen from the incident in the laundry room. The next day Hutchinson told
D.B. he had to report the incident to Defendant Ferguson.
53. When D.B. arrived in Defendant Ferguson’s office, Defendant Ferguson asked D.B.
about the “rumor” about the sexual assault. D.B. denied that it was a rumor and described the
sexual assault to Defendant Ferguson. He told Defendant Ferguson about the rag containing
Defendant Presley’s semen. D.B. also told Defendant Ferguson that he gave Ms. Hutchinson the
rag. Defendant Ferguson then spoke to Ms. Hutchinson without D.B. present. Following that
conversation, Defendant Ferguson instructed D.B. not to mention the incident to anyone, and
then sent him back to his living unit.
54. A few days after D.B.’s meeting with Defendant Ferguson, an investigator spoke to D.B.
about the incident. The investigator asked D.B. if Defendant Presley was circumcised. D.B.
stated that Presley was circumcised and provided the investigator with descriptive information
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about Presley’s body. A few days later, the investigator met with D.B. again and told him that he
“passed” because Presley was in fact circumcised. Defendant Presley continued to work at
Thompson Academy and have unsupervised contact with D.B. and other youth.
55. In or about August 2010, Defendant Ferguson permitted Defendant Presley to transport
D.B. off-campus to the dentist’s office. During the visit, Defendant Presley escorted D.B. to the
bathroom, removed D.B’s handcuffs, and followed D.B. into the bathroom. Defendant Presley
stood behind D.B. and asked him “are you going to do it?” D.B. asked what he meant, and
Defendant Pressley responded: “suck it.” Defendant Presley then pulled out his penis and said
that he would not let D.B. out of the bathroom. D.B. then performed nonconsensual oral sex on
Defendant Presley for a second time.
56. Despite having knowledge that Defendant Presley sexually assaulted D.B., Defendant
Ferguson failed to take appropriate action to train, supervise, and monitor Defendant Presley to
protect D.B. from sexual abuse. As a direct and proximate cause of Defendant Ferguson’s
negligent supervision of Defendant Presley, Plaintiff D.B. endured two sexual assaults in
violation of state and federal law.
57. Defendant Peterman monitors Thompson Academy and has knowledge of the failure to
train, supervise, and monitor YSI employees. By failing to take appropriate action to ensure that
YSI employees are properly trained and supervised, Plaintiff D.B. was sexually assaulted by a
YSI employee on two separate occasions.
58. Undoubtedly, the sexual abuse D.B. suffered at the hands of YSI employees, combined
with the deliberate indifference of Defendant Ferguson, YSI, and DJJ officials to his protection
and safety, have caused D.B. to suffer extreme emotional distress, humiliation, trauma and fear.
Since the sexual assaults, D.B. has attempted suicide on three separate occasions, by drinking
19
bleach and attempting to hang himself. Although D.B. was briefly sent to a treatment facility
after his first suicide attempt, he was returned to Thompson shortly thereafter.
Necessity for Injunctive Relief
59. The Defendants have acted and continue to act in violation of the law as described above.
Plaintiff D.L. and the class he seeks to represent do not have an adequate remedy at law. As a
result of the policies, practices, acts and omissions of the Defendants, D.L. and the class of
children he seeks to represent have suffered and continue to suffer imminent, serious and
irreparable injuries.
EXHAUSTION
60. Plaintiffs have exhausted all available administrative remedies.
COMPLIANCE WITH PROCEDURAL REQUIREMENTS
61. Plaintiff D.B. timely filed notice with the DJJ and Department of Financial Services
pursuant to Fla. Stat. § 768.28(6) regarding his state tort law claims against DJJ and YSI.
CAUSES OF ACTION
Count I
Declaratory and Injunctive Relief for Eighth and
Fourteenth Amendment Violations:
Failure to Protect From Harm
62. Plaintiff D.L. incorporates by reference the foregoing paragraphs to support the claim of
failure to protect from harm.
63. By their foregoing actions and inactions, Defendants Peterman, Slattery, and Ferguson
are liable pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for failing to protect D.L. and the class he seeks to
represent from harm at Thompson Academy. Violence is so widespread and excessive force so
frequent at Thompson Academy that Defendants Peterman, Slattery, and Ferguson are or should
20
be aware of the harm inflicted upon Plaintiff D.L. but fail to take appropriate action to train,
supervise, and monitor staff in order to protect the children entrusted to their care and prevent
egregious constitutional violations. Defendants’ deliberate indifference to Plaintiffs’
constitutional right to be protected from excessive force violates the Eighth and Fourteenth
Amendments to the United States Constitution, as enforced through 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff
D.L. and the class he seeks to represent are entitled to declaratory relief and a permanent
injunction requiring Defendants Peterman, Slattery, and Ferguson to provide Plaintiff and the
proposed class with constitutionally adequate conditions of confinement by protecting Plaintiffs
from harm.
Count II
Declaratory Relief for Eighth and
Fourteenth Amendment Violations:
Failure to Protect Plaintiff D.B. From Staff-on-Youth Sexual Assault
64. Plaintiff D.B. incorporates by reference the foregoing paragraphs to support the claim of
failure to protect Plaintiff D.B. from staff-on-youth sexual assault.
65. Defendants Peterman, Slattery, and Ferguson’s refusal and failure to protect Plaintiff
D.B. from sexual abuse, despite knowledge of prior allegations of sexual abuse, violates Plaintiff
D.B.’s constitutional rights under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States
Constitution as enforced through 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff D.B. seeks declaratory relief
against these Defendants.
Count III
Declaratory and Injunctive Relief for Violation of Right to Access Courts Under First and
Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 21 of the
Constitution of the State of Florida
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66. Plaintiff D.L. incorporates by reference the foregoing paragraphs to support the claim of
denial of right to access courts.
67. Defendants Peterman, Slattery, and Ferguson’s policies and practices of depriving
Plaintiffs of a means to contact attorneys and maintain confidential communications with their
attorneys violates the Plaintiffs’ First and Fourteenth Amendment rights to the United States
Constitution and to due process of law as enforced through 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and their right to
access the courts under Article I, Section 21 of the Constitution of the State of Florida.
Defendants’ practices and policies violate Plaintiffs’ constitutional right to adequate, effective
and meaningful access to the courts. Plaintiff D.L. and the class he seeks to represent are entitled
to permanent injunctive relief against these Defendants requiring them to provide Plaintiffs with
adequate, effective, and meaningful access to the courts.
Count IV
Declaratory and Injunctive Relief for First Amendment Violations: Retaliation
68. Plaintiff D.L. incorporates by reference the foregoing paragraphs to support the claim of
retaliation.
69. Defendants Peterman, Slattery, and Ferguson’s policy and practice of intimidating,
threatening, harassing, and punishing youth for exercising their right to speak to attorneys and
access the courts violates Plaintiff’s First Amendment right to free speech under the U.S.
Constitution as enforced through 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff D.L. and the class he seeks to
represent have a constitutional right to access the courts and speak with attorneys. Defendants
Peterman, Slattery, and Ferguson violated this right by pressuring D.L. to sign a form waiving
his right to speak with an attorney and then stripping D.L. of his privileges, subjecting him to
additional confinement at Thompson Academy, and denying D.L. visits and phone calls with his
22
attorneys. Plaintiff D.L. and the class he seeks to represent are entitled to permanent injunctive
relief against these Defendants requiring them to cease all retaliation against Plaintiffs for
exercising their constitutional rights.
Count V
Damages for Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment Violations:
Staff-on-Youth Sexual Assault
70. Plaintiff D.B. incorporates by reference the foregoing paragraphs to support the claim of
staff-on-youth sexual assault.
71. By taking the actions above, Defendants Presley and Ferguson intentionally and
maliciously violated Plaintiff D.B’s right to be free from substantial and excessive harm, in
violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution as
enforced through 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Because Defendants Presley and Ferguson acted in clear
violation of well-established law, of which a reasonable person would have been aware, they are
not entitled to a good faith or official immunity defense. Defendants Presley and Ferguson acted
recklessly, maliciously and with a callous disregard or indifference to the rights of Plaintiff D.B.
Plaintiff D.B. seeks declaratory judgment, compensatory and punitive damages against
Defendants Presley and Ferguson.
Count VI
Negligent Supervision in Violation of Florida Law for Sexual Assault of Plaintiff D.B.
72. Plaintiff D.B. incorporates by reference the foregoing paragraphs to support the claim of
negligent supervision against Defendants Peterman, Slattery and Ferguson.
73. Defendants Slattery and Ferguson possessed a duty pursuant to state law, the Eighth and
Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, and pursuant to the contract between YSI and
DJJ to protect youth committed to Thompson Academy from harm and abuse by staff employed
23
by YSI to work at Thompson Academy. Defendant Ferguson, as an agent and employee of YSI
at all relevant times, failed to protect Plaintiff D.B. from sexual assault by Defendant Presley by
telling Plaintiff D.B. to not report the incident, allowing Defendant Presley to continue working
at Thompson Academy, and allowing Defendant Presley to take Plaintiff D.B. to an off-campus
dental appointment where Plaintiff D.B. would be alone with Defendant Presley. Due to
Defendant Ferguson’s failure to properly supervise Defendant Presley, Plaintiff D.B. suffered a
second sexual assault by Defendant Presley, causing Plaintiff D.B. to suffer severe and
permanent traumatic injuries, including mental, emotional, and psychological damages.
Defendant Ferguson’s negligent supervision is actionable against Defendants Peterman and
Slattery, pursuant to Fla. Stat. § 768.28(9)(a), and because Defendant Ferguson was an employee
of YSI and an agent of DJJ at all relevant times.
74. D.B. seeks declaratory relief and compensatory damages against Defendant Peterman,
and compensatory and punitive damages against Defendants Slattery and Ferguson.
Count VII
Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress by Defendants Presley and Slattery in Violation
of Florida Law for Sexual Assault on Plaintiff D.B.
75. Plaintiff D.B. incorporates by reference the foregoing paragraphs to support a claim of
intentional infliction of emotional distress.
76. Defendant Presley engaged in deliberate and reckless conduct that he knew or should
have known would inflict emotional distress when he forced Plaintiff D.B., a child of fourteen
years, to perform oral sex on him on two separate occasions. Forcing a child to perform a sexual
act on an adult who exercises power and control over the child inside a juvenile correctional
facility is outrageous and exceeds all bounds of decency. Defendant Presley’s conduct caused,
and continues to cause, Plaintiff D.B. to experience severe and permanent emotional distress,
24
which is evidenced in part by D.B.’s suicide attempts at Thompson Academy. Defendant
Presley’s intentional infliction of emotional distress is actionable against Defendant Slattery and
YSI because Defendant Presley was an agent or employee of YSI at all relevant times.
77. Plaintiff D.B. seeks a declaratory judgment, compensatory, and punitive damages against
Defendants Presley and Slattery.
Count VIII
Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress by Defendants Ferguson and Slattery in
Violation of Florida Law for Sexual Battery on Plaintiff D.B.
78. Plaintiff D.B. incorporates by reference the foregoing paragraphs to support a claim of
intentional infliction of emotional distress.
79. Defendant Ferguson engaged in deliberate and reckless conduct that he knew or should
have known would inflict emotional distress when he failed to remove Defendant Presley from
having further contact with Plaintiff D.B. after he learned of Defendant Presley’s sexual assault
upon D.B. and allowed Defendant Presley to transport D.B. to an off-campus dental appointment
where he would be alone with D.B. Defendant Ferguson knew or should have known that
placing D.B. under Defendant Presley’s control after Presley sexually assaulted D.B. would
cause D.B. emotional distress. Defendant Ferguson’s actions were outrageous and exceeded all
bounds of decency and caused D.B. to experience severe emotional distress. Defendant
Ferguson’s intentional infliction of emotional distress is actionable against Defendant Slattery
and YSI because Defendant Ferguson was an employee or agent of YSI at all relevant times.
80. Plaintiff D.B. seeks a declaratory judgment, compensatory, and punitive damages against
Defendants Ferguson and Slattery.
Count IX
Sexual Battery of Plaintiff D.B. by Defendant Presley in Violation of Florida Law
25
81. Plaintiff D.B. incorporates by reference the foregoing paragraphs to support a claim of
sexual battery.
82. Defendant Presley committed a sexual battery upon Plaintiff D.B. in or around February
or March 2010 by forcing Plaintiff D.B. to perform oral sex on him in a laundry room at
Thompson Academy. Defendant Presley’s physical contact with Plaintiff D.B. was unlawful,
pursuant to Florida law, intentional, and was harmful and offensive to Plaintiff D.B. Defendant
Presley’s sexual battery is actionable against Defendant Slattery and YSI because Defendant
Presley was an agent or employee of YSI at all relevant times.
83. Plaintiff D.B. seeks a declaratory judgment, compensatory, and punitive damages against
Defendants Presley and Slattery
Count X
Sexual Battery of Plaintiff D.B. by Defendant Presley in Violation of Florida Law
84. Plaintiff D.B. incorporates by reference the foregoing paragraphs to support a claim of
sexual battery.
85. Defendant Presley committed a sexual battery upon Plaintiff D.B. in or around August
2010 by forcing Plaintiff D.B. to perform oral sex on him in a restroom at a dentist’s office
located off of Thompson Academy’s campus. Defendant Presley’s physical contact with
Plaintiff D.B. was unlawful, pursuant to Florida law, intentional, and was harmful and offensive
to Plaintiff D.B. Defendant Presley’s sexual battery is actionable against Defendant Slattery and
YSI because Defendant Presley was an agent or employee of YSI at all relevant times.
86. Plaintiff D.B. seeks a declaratory judgment, compensatory, and punitive damages against
Defendants Presley and Slattery.
PRAYER FOR RELIEF
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WHEREFORE, the Plaintiffs pray that this Court grant the following relief:
a) Assume jurisdiction over this matter;
b) Certify this matter as a class action pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. Pr. 23(a) and (b)(2)
consisting of a class of all youth who are or will be incarcerated at Thompson Academy;
c) Declare that the acts and omissions of all Defendants violate the U.S. Constitution and
Constitution of the State of Florida;
d) Declare that the acts and omissions of Defendants Slattery, Ferguson, and Presley with
regard to Plaintiff D.B. violate state law;
e) Enter a preliminary and permanent injunction requiring the Defendants, their agents,
employees and all persons acting in concert with the Defendants to cease their
unconstitutional and unlawful practices;
f) Award Plaintiff D.B. compensatory and punitive damages for the injuries he sustained as
a result of Defendants Slattery, Ferguson, and Presley’s actions and inactions;
g) Award to Plaintiffs reasonable costs and attorney’s fees under 42 U.S.C. § 1988; and
h) Grant the Plaintiffs such other relief as the Court deems just.
Dated this 8th day of October, 2010.
Respectfully submitted,
s/Matthew Farmer_________________________________
Matthew Farmer, Florida Bar Number: 0793469
Farmer & Fitzgerald, P.A.
708 East Jackson St.
Tampa, FL 33602
Telephone: 813-228-0095
Facsimile: 813-224-0269
Email: mattfarmer1@aol.com
Vanessa Carroll, Mississippi Bar Number: 102736*
Southern Poverty Law Center
27
4431 Canal St.
New Orleans, LA 70119
Phone: 504-486-8982
Facsimile: 504-486-8947
Email: vanessa.carroll@splcenter.org
* Motion to appear pro hac vice pending
David Utter, Georgia Bar Number: 723144*
Southern Poverty Law Center
3000 Biscayne Blvd., Suite #212
Miami, FL 33137
Phone: 786-347-2056
Facsimile: 334-956-8480
Email: david.utter@splcenter.org
* Motion to appear pro hac vice pending
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CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE
I hereby certify that on October 8, 2010, I electronically filed the foregoing document
with the Clerk of the Court using CM/ECF. I also certify that the foregoing document is being
served on the following parties as soon as possible in compliance with Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(e), (h),
and (j)(2):
Frank Peterman, Jr., Secretary
Florida Department of Juvenile Justice
Knight Building
2737 Centerview Dr.
Tallahassee, FL 32399-3100
James Slattery, President
Youth Services International
6000 Cattleridge Dr., Suite 200
Sarasota, FL 34232
Craig Ferguson, Facility Administrator
YSI Thompson Academy
1150 Hibiscus Dr.
Pembroke Pines, FL 33025
Youth Counselor Presley
YSI Thompson Academy
1150 Hibiscus Dr.
Pembroke Pines, FL 33025
Youth Counselor Augustine
YSI Thompson Academy
1150 Hibiscus Dr.
Pembroke Pines, FL 33025
Respectfully submitted,
s/Matthew Farmer
Matthew Farmer, Florida Bar Number: 0793469