Case: Bentick v. Decker

2:20-cv-03679 | U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey

Filed Date: April 2, 2020

Closed Date: May 19, 2020

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

This is a case about whether or not individuals detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) should be released due to safety concerns related to the COVID-19 Pandemic. On April 2, 2020, the plaintiffs - a group of persons detained in Bergen and Hudson County Correctional Facilities, located in Kearny and Hackensack, New Jersey, some of whom tested positive for the COVID-19 virus - filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus. Initially filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern D…

This is a case about whether or not individuals detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) should be released due to safety concerns related to the COVID-19 Pandemic. On April 2, 2020, the plaintiffs - a group of persons detained in Bergen and Hudson County Correctional Facilities, located in Kearny and Hackensack, New Jersey, some of whom tested positive for the COVID-19 virus - filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus. Initially filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, the case was transferred to the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey two days after the suit began. The plaintiffs sued ICE on the grounds that conditions in detention centers, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, violated their Fifth Amendment due process rights. Represented by public defense legal services, the plaintiffs sought injunctive relief and attorney fees due to the health risks imposed by their imprisonment. Judge John Michael Vazquez was assigned the case.

On April 12, 2020, the plaintiffs moved for an order to show cause for preliminary injunction and a temporary restraining order.

On April 30, 2020, Judge Vazquez denied without prejudice as moot several of the plaintiffs’ motions for a temporary restraining order, due to their release by the Department of Homeland Security and ICE. The remaining plaintiffs’ motions for a temporary restraining order were also denied without prejudice pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 65, as Judge Vazquez cited a low likelihood of success on the merits of their claims. First, Judge Vazquez held that the efforts made by ICE in response to the COVID-19 pandemic were satisfactory to render the facilities’ conditions generally constitutional. Next, since it was important to recognize unique circumstances with regards to any given detainee, Judge Vazquez stipulated that a more appropriate question would be whether or not adequate care was provided to individuals that did contract the virus. Finally, Judge Vazquez held that the plaintiffs’ complaint did not match the relief sought, noting that the plaintiffs were seeking release rather than improved conditions in the detention facilities.

Following the denial of the motion for a temporary restraining order, the case was severed into individual actions for each of the plaintiffs, with the first-named plaintiff remaining as the only plaintiff in the original case.

On May 19, 2020, Judge Vazquez dismissed the case without prejudice. The Clearinghouse does not have access to the order stipulating the case’s dismissal. The case is now closed.

Summary Authors

Matthew Weiner (9/26/2021)

People

For PACER's information on parties and their attorneys, see: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/17044977/parties/bentick-v-decker/


Judge(s)

Vazquez, John Michael (New Jersey)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Taj, Nabila J (New York)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Dharia, Kruti D. (New Jersey)

Pascal, Elizabeth Ann (New Jersey)

Judge(s)

Vazquez, John Michael (New Jersey)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Taj, Nabila J (New York)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Dharia, Kruti D. (New Jersey)

Pascal, Elizabeth Ann (New Jersey)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Docket [PACER]

May 19, 2020 Docket
34

Opinion

B. v. Tsoukaris

April 30, 2020 Order/Opinion

Docket

See docket on RECAP: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/17044977/bentick-v-decker/

Last updated May 11, 2022, 8 p.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

State / Territory: New Jersey

Case Type(s):

Immigration and/or the Border

Special Collection(s):

COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)

Key Dates

Filing Date: April 2, 2020

Closing Date: May 19, 2020

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

A group of immigrant individuals detained by DHS/ICE who were in correctional facilities in New Jersey during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

DHS/ICE (New York City), Federal

Defendant Type(s):

Corrections

Case Details

Causes of Action:

Habeas Corpus, 28 U.S.C. §§ 2241-2253; 2254; 2255

Ex parte Young (federal or state officials)

Constitutional Clause(s):

Due Process

Due Process: Substantive Due Process

Special Case Type(s):

Habeas

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Defendant

Nature of Relief:

None

Source of Relief:

None

Content of Injunction:

Preliminary relief denied

Issues

General:

Conditions of confinement

Habeas Corpus

Placement in detention facilities

Sanitation / living conditions

Totality of conditions

Medical/Mental Health:

Medical care, general

COVID-19:

Mitigation Denied

Mitigation Requested

Release Denied

Release Requested

Type of Facility:

Government-run

Immigration/Border:

Detention - conditions