University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Harper v. Cuomo PC-NY-0081
Docket / Court 9:21-cv-00019 ( N.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Prison Conditions
Special Collection COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Attorney Organization Relman, Dane & Colfax
Case Summary
COVID-19 Summary: This putative class action was filed on June 16, 2020 by medically vulnerable prisoners in New York's Adirondack Correctional Facility. The plaintiffs sought extra protections from COVID-19. A magistrate judge denied the plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction on March 1, 2 ... read more >
COVID-19 Summary: This putative class action was filed on June 16, 2020 by medically vulnerable prisoners in New York's Adirondack Correctional Facility. The plaintiffs sought extra protections from COVID-19. A magistrate judge denied the plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction on March 1, 2021.
This is a case about COVID-19 precautions for older and vulnerable prisoners in New York State prisons. Three incarcerated plaintiffs and the Release Aging People in Prison Campaign (RAPP) filed this class action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York on January 8, 2021. They sued the governor of New York, the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) and its commissioner and chief medical officer, and the superintendent of the Adirondack Correctional Facility under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA ) (42 U.S.C. § 12101), and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (29 U.S.C. § 794). Represented by lawyers from Relman Colfax PLLC and the Legal Aid Society's Prisoners' Rights Project, the plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief, attorneys' fees and a preliminary injunction. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants violated their Eighth Amendment rights by acting with deliberate indifference towards the serious risk posed by COVID-19, as well as violating several statutes.

In April 2020, during the height of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, New York began implementing a policy of moving some of its elderly and vulnerable prisoners to the Adirondack Correctional Facility in Ray Brook, New York. Adirondack is an aging facility that had most recently been used to incarcerate about a dozen teenagers. The plaintiffs alleged that DOCCS put them at risk by transferring them from other facilities throughout the state, some of which had COVID-19 outbreaks at the time, without proper testing and quarantine protocols. The plaintiffs also claimed that the conditions at Adirondack, like cells without doors and a communal dining hall, placed prisoners there at risk of contracting COVID-19. Additionally, the plaintiffs alleged that the defendants violated the ADA and the Rehabilitation act by discriminating against them based on their disabilities. The plaintiffs asked the court to certify a class of all prisoners incarcerated at Adirondack during the governor's declaration of a COVID-19 emergency and a subclass of those prisoners with disabilities that put them at a higher risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19.

The case was assigned to United States District Judge Lawrence E. Kahn, sitting in Albany, New York. The plaintiffs moved for a preliminary injunction on January 11, 2021. On January 21, 2021, Judge Kahn referred the preliminary injunction motion to United States Magistrate Judge Miroslav Lovric.

Between February 8 and 16, 2021, Judge Lovric presided over a six-day evidentiary hearing on the preliminary injunction motion at which twelve witnesses testified. On March 1, 2021 he issued a report and recommendation recommending that the preliminary injunction be denied. Judge Lovric found that the plaintiffs were not likely to succeed on the merits as they did not show that they faced a substantial risk of harm while incarcerated at Adirondack.

Objections to the report and recommendation are due on March, 15, 2021, while the defendants' answer to the complaint is due March 11, 2021. The case is ongoing.

Jonah Hudson-Erdman - 03/09/2021


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process
COVID-19
Mitigation Requested
Defendant-type
Corrections
Disability
disability, unspecified
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Bathing and hygiene
Classification / placement
Conditions of confinement
Sanitation / living conditions
Totality of conditions
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Special Case Type
Habeas
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701
Defendant(s) Commisioner
Deputy Commissioner and Chief Medical Officer
Governor
New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision
Superintendant
Plaintiff Description General: all persons who are incarcerated or who will be incarcerated at Adirondack Correctional Facility during the pendency of the Governor's declaration of a COVID-19 emergency for the State of New York Disability Subclass: members of the General Class who have or are perceived to have diabetes and/or heart disease, that limit their major life activities and place members of the Disability Subclass at increased risk of becoming severely ill from COVID-19
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Relman, Dane & Colfax
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Pending
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filed 01/08/2021
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  Harper, et al. v. Cuomo, et al.
Relman Colfax PLLC
Date: Jan. 14, 2021
By: Relman Colfax PLLC
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
N.D.N.Y.
03/03/2021
9:21-cv-00019-LEK-ML
PC-NY-0081-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
not recorded
01/08/2021
Press Release
PC-NY-0081-0002.pdf | Detail
N.D.N.Y.
01/08/2021
Class Action Complaint Jury Trial Demanded [ECF# 1]
PC-NY-0081-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D.N.Y.
01/11/2021
Memorandum of Law in Support of Plaintiffs' Request for Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 8-1]
PC-NY-0081-0003.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D.N.Y.
01/11/2021
Memorandum of Law in Support of Plaintiffs' Request for Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 8-1 & 8-17 to 8-19]
PC-NY-0081-0005.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D.N.Y.
01/22/2021
Plaintiffs' Reply to Defendants' Memorandum of Law in Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion for a Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 29]
PC-NY-0081-0006.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
N.D.N.Y.
03/01/2021
Order and Report-Recommendation [ECF# 51]
PC-NY-0081-0004.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Kahn, Lawrence E. (N.D.N.Y.) show/hide docs
PC-NY-0081-9000
Lovric, Miroslav Court not on record [Magistrate] show/hide docs
PC-NY-0081-0004 | PC-NY-0081-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Billingsley, David (New York) show/hide docs
PC-NY-0081-0001 | PC-NY-0081-0003 | PC-NY-0081-0005 | PC-NY-0081-0006 | PC-NY-0081-9000
Cobb, Jia (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-NY-0081-0001 | PC-NY-0081-0003 | PC-NY-0081-0005 | PC-NY-0081-0006 | PC-NY-0081-9000
Diaz, Gabriel (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-NY-0081-0001 | PC-NY-0081-0003 | PC-NY-0081-0005 | PC-NY-0081-0006 | PC-NY-0081-9000
Gebreselassie, Sophia (New York) show/hide docs
PC-NY-0081-0001 | PC-NY-0081-0003 | PC-NY-0081-0005 | PC-NY-0081-0006 | PC-NY-0081-9000
Livengood, Rebecca (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-NY-0081-0001 | PC-NY-0081-0003 | PC-NY-0081-0005 | PC-NY-0081-0006 | PC-NY-0081-9000
Samberg-Champion, Sasha M. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-NY-0081-0001 | PC-NY-0081-0003 | PC-NY-0081-0005 | PC-NY-0081-0006 | PC-NY-0081-9000
Short, Stefen Russell (New York) show/hide docs
PC-NY-0081-0001 | PC-NY-0081-0003 | PC-NY-0081-0005 | PC-NY-0081-0006 | PC-NY-0081-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Leris, Konstandinos D (New York) show/hide docs
PC-NY-0081-9000
McCartin, Michael G (New York) show/hide docs
PC-NY-0081-9000

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