United States District Court, D. Rhode Island
THEODORE CHAPDELAINE, FREDERICK KENNEY, and RICHARD MOREAU, Plaintiffs,
PETER NERONHA, in his official capacity as Attorney General of the State of Rhode Island, and PATRICIA A. COYNE-FAGUE, in her official capacity as Director of the Rhode Island Department of Corrections, Defendants.
J. McConnell, Jr. United States District Judge
Plaintiffs have asked this Court to revisit its denial of
their motion for class certification. ECF No. 45. The
Defendants (collectively, "the State") oppose the
renewed motion. ECF No. 51.
Plaintiffs' motion derives from a fear that the case may
become moot if named plaintiffs can no longer prosecute the
case. See ECF No. 45-1 at 16-21. They base this
concern on the fact that circumstances have forced previous
Plaintiffs to drop out of this lawsuit because they have
either died, are no longer subject to the challenged statute,
or have otherwise become unavailable. Id. The State
objects asserting that the Court should deny certification
when a class is not needed to obtain the same relief that an
injunction would provide. ECF No. 51-1 at 4 (citing
Dionne v. Bouley, 757 F.2d 1344 (1st Cir. 1985)).
This was the basis for this Court's original ruling
denying class certification. ECF No. 21. The Court cautioned
them that "[i]f the circumstances of this case change in
the future, the Plaintiffs are free to file a renewed motion
for class certification." Id., at 2.
"To obtain certification of a class, Plaintiffs must
establish the prerequisites of [Fed. R. Civ. P.] 23(a) and
fall within one of the categories of [Fed. R. Civ. P.]
23(b)." Garcia-Rubiera v. Calderon, 570 F.3d
443, 461 (1st Cir. 2009). The Court finds that the
Plaintiffs' proposed class satisfies all the
prerequisites of Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(a). With over 300
individuals meeting the description of the proposed class
(level three sex offenders currently living in Rhode Island),
numerosity is satisfied. Common questions of law or fact will
be shared among the proposed class because housing choices
for each class member are impacted by the residency
prohibitions of R.I.G.L. § 11-37.1-10(d). Additionally,
the representative parties' claims are typical of the
class and no conflicts of interest have been uncovered that
call in doubt the representative parties' ability to
fairly and adequately represent the class.
requirements of Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(b)(1) are also met. There is
a substantial risk of inconsistent or varying adjudications
that will result in incompatible standards if separate claims
are brought by individuals. See Fed. R. Civ. P.
Court also finds that circumstances have changed since it
denied class certification over 31/2
years ago. The lead Plaintiff, John Freitas, passed away.
Another Plaintiff, Richard Moreau, was added in response to a
determination that his family residence fell within 1000 feet
of a local school. Two of the Plaintiffs, Troy Porter and
Derrick Lee Jenkins, determined that they would not
participate and were voluntarily dismissed. Another
Plaintiff, Michael Clinton, has relocated out of state,
leaving just two of the original Plaintiffs and the
later-added Plaintiff Moreau to proceed on the merits. ECF
No. 45-1 at 16-21. The amendments to date show that
"there is a danger that the individual claims might be
moot." Dionne, 757 F.2d at 1356. This
concern of mootness coupled with the fact that "class
certification does not impose any significant burden" on
the Court, renders a denial of class certification improper.
See id.,' see also Gayle v. Warden Monmouth County
Correctional Institution, 838 F.3d 297, 310 (3d
Cir. 2016) ("[t]he circumstances in which classwide
relief offers no further benefit, however, will be rare, and
courts should exercise great caution before denying class
certification on that basis."). The Court thus grants
Plaintiffs' renewed motion for class certification.
reasons stated, the Court GRANTS Plaintiffs' Renewed
Motion for Class Certification and Appointment of Class
Representatives and Class Counsel (ECF No. 45) and orders
under Fed.R.Civ.P. Rule 23(a) and 23(b) the following:
(1) The following class is hereby certified:
All persons currently residing in, and those who may in the
future relocate to, the State of Rhode Island who were or are
convicted of offenses that require registration under the
Sexual Offender Registration and Community Notification Act
of the State of Rhode Island, chapter 11-37.1 of the General
Laws of the State of Rhode Island, and have been, or will be,
assigned to "tier" or "level" 3 and are
therefore subject to the Residency Prohibition and the 2020
Residency Prohibition contained in §11-37.1-10(d).
Excluded from the class are any persons as to whom a criminal
charge or indictment for alleged violation of the Residency
Prohibition is pending.
(2) The Court designates the individual Plaintiffs as Class
(3) The Court appoints Attorneys Lynette J. Labinger and John
E. MacDonald as Class Counsel for the Plaintiff Class.