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Case Name Doe v. Hommrich JI-TN-0006
Docket / Court 3:16-cv-00799 ( M.D. Tenn. )
State/Territory Tennessee
Case Type(s) Juvenile Institution
Special Collection Post-WalMart decisions on class certification
Solitary confinement
Attorney Organization ACLU Affiliates (any)
Case Summary
On April 25, 2016, a minor pre-trial detainee in the Rutherford County Detention Facility (“the Facility”) filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee. The plaintiff sued the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (“DCS”) and its Commissioner, ... read more >
On April 25, 2016, a minor pre-trial detainee in the Rutherford County Detention Facility (“the Facility”) filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee. The plaintiff sued the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services (“DCS”) and its Commissioner, the Director of the Facility, an officer of the Facility, and Rutherford County under 42 U.S.C. §1983. The plaintiff, through private counsel and the ACLU of Tennessee claimed violations of the Eighth Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause. The plaintiff alleged the government had unlawfully held him in solitary confinement for long periods of time as a punitive measure. Specifically, the plaintiff was placed in solitary confinement at the Facility for five days prior to the filing of this lawsuit for allegedly disruptive behavior. The plaintiff sought injunctive and declaratory relief. He requested a temporary restraining order, a preliminary and permanent injunction, as well as attorneys' fees and costs. The case was assigned to Judge Todd J. Campbell.

On April 25, 2016, the court granted the plaintiff’s motion for a temporary restraining order to prevent defendants from placing or keeping him in solitary confinement while awaiting adjudication. On May 4, 2016, the defendants moved to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim for relief and subject-matter jurisdiction. On May 5, 2016, the court denied the plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction, finding he had not shown irreparable harm, as he was no longer in solitary confinement. The temporary restraining order terminated the same day.

On May 18, 2016, the plaintiff filed an amended complaint to certify a class of all current and future juveniles held in detention at secure facilities in the State of Tennessee. On June 9 and 22, 2016, the defendants again moved to dismiss the amended complaint, alleging the matter was moot because the plaintiff was no longer in the custody of the Facility, and alleging failure to state a claim and lack of jurisdiction. On July 7, 2016, the plaintiff sought class certification of those juveniles detained in any facility licensed by DCS, and a subclass of those juveniles detained in the Facility. Judge Campbell denied the defendants’ motions to dismiss on August 26, 2016, finding that the plaintiff’s claim was capable of repetition and therefore was not moot. On November 30, 2016, the case was reassigned to Judge Aleta A. Trauger.

On February 9, 2017, the plaintiff again sought a preliminary injunction to enjoin the defendants from placing the plaintiff or any other class member in solitary confinement as punishment. On February 17, 2017, the court granted the plaintiff’s motion to a certify class defined as “all juveniles detained in the Rutherford County Juvenile Detention Center who are or were placed in solitary confinement or isolation for punitive reasons, from April 25, 2015 to the present.” 2017 WL 660681.

On March 22, 2017, the plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction was granted. 2017 WL 1091864. The court found that the plaintiff’s claim that the solitary confinement of juveniles for punitive purposes constituted inhumane treatment was likely to succeed on the merits. On October 30, 2017, the case was referred to a magistrate for settlement. An order dated January 29, 2018, explained that after further discussion, the parties had one unresolved issue that they wish to continue mediating.

The case was transferred to Judge Eli Richardson on November 14, 2018. The parties reached a settlement and then moved for preliminary approval of the agreement on January 24, 2019, but Judge Richardson denied the motion due to concerns about the agreement. The parties then revised the settlement and again moved for preliminary approval on March 27, 2019. Judge Richarson preliminary approved the agreement, and after a fairness hearing, approved the agreement on July 19, 2019. The agreement included a permanent injunction prohibiting Rutherford County from using seclusion as punishment for minors. The defendants also agreed to reporting requirements and that they would pay $250,000 in attorneys' fees and costs. The court dismissed the case with prejudice that same day. The case remains ongoing for compliance with the permanent injunction of the settlement agreement. As of March 24, 2021, there was no additional activity on the docket to suggest compliance issues or disputes.

Sam Kulhanek - 09/27/2018
Alex Moody - 05/27/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
General
Confinement/isolation
Disciplinary segregation
Juveniles
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Rutherford County
Rutherford County Juvenile Detention Facility
Tennessee Department of Children’s Services
Plaintiff Description All juveniles detained in the Rutherford County Juvenile Detention Center who are or were placed in solitary confinement or isolation for punitive reasons, from April 25, 2015 to the present.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Affiliates (any)
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status outcome Granted
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2019 - n/a
Filed 04/25/2016
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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Court Docket(s)
M.D. Tenn.
07/19/2019
3:16-cv-799
JI-TN-0006-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
M.D. Tenn.
04/25/2016
Verified Complaint [ECF# 1]
JI-TN-0006-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
M.D. Tenn.
05/18/2016
First Amended Complaint – Class Action Complaint [ECF# 34]
JI-TN-0006-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
M.D. Tenn.
02/17/2017
Memorandum and Order [ECF# 100] (2017 WL 660681)
JI-TN-0006-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
M.D. Tenn.
03/22/2017
Memorandum [ECF# 114] (2017 WL 1091864)
JI-TN-0006-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
M.D. Tenn.
03/27/2019
Class Action Settlement Agreement [ECF# 143-1]
JI-TN-0006-0005.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
M.D. Tenn.
07/19/2019
Final Order Approving Class Settlement, Ordering Permanent Injunctive Relief, and Dismissing Case with Prejudice [ECF# 152]
JI-TN-0006-0006.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Brown, Joe B. (M.D. Tenn.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
JI-TN-0006-9000
Richardson, Eli Jeremy (M.D. Tenn.) show/hide docs
JI-TN-0006-0006
Trauger, Aleta Arthur (M.D. Tenn.) show/hide docs
JI-TN-0006-0003 | JI-TN-0006-0004 | JI-TN-0006-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Castelli, Thomas H. (Tennessee) show/hide docs
JI-TN-0006-0002 | JI-TN-0006-0005 | JI-TN-0006-9000
Clark, Wesley B. (Tennessee) show/hide docs
JI-TN-0006-0001 | JI-TN-0006-0002 | JI-TN-0006-0005 | JI-TN-0006-9000
Downton, Mark J. (Tennessee) show/hide docs
JI-TN-0006-0001 | JI-TN-0006-0002 | JI-TN-0006-0005 | JI-TN-0006-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Christiansen, Nicholas Clinton (Tennessee) show/hide docs
JI-TN-0006-0005 | JI-TN-0006-9000
Lakey, Jonathan P. (Tennessee) show/hide docs
JI-TN-0006-0005 | JI-TN-0006-9000
McCreary, Josh A. (Tennessee) show/hide docs
JI-TN-0006-9000
Rieger, Alexander Stuart (Tennessee) show/hide docs
JI-TN-0006-0005 | JI-TN-0006-9000

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