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Case Name Carranza v. Reams JC-CO-0010
Docket / Court 1:20-cv-00977 ( D. Colo. )
State/Territory Colorado
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Special Collection COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Attorney Organization ACLU Affiliates (any)
Case Summary
COVID-19 Summary: Inmates held at Weld County Jail (Colorado) with high risks of complications from COVID-19 filed this putative class action lawsuit against the Sheriff of Weld County. They sought injunctive relief, in the form of following public health guidelines in the jail, and declaratory ... read more >
COVID-19 Summary: Inmates held at Weld County Jail (Colorado) with high risks of complications from COVID-19 filed this putative class action lawsuit against the Sheriff of Weld County. They sought injunctive relief, in the form of following public health guidelines in the jail, and declaratory relief. The parties received preliminary approval of a class action settlement on December 29, 2020.


On April 7, 2020, inmates held in Weld County Jail with high risks of complications from COVID-19 filed this putative class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado. The plaintiffs sued the Sheriff of Weld County under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging the conditions of confinement violated their Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. They alleged that the defendant had failed to adequately address the COVID-19 pandemic and that Weld County Jail was not following public health guidelines. They also claimed that they shared common utilities, such as toilets, that they were unable to practice social distancing, and that they did not have regular access to hand soap. The plaintiffs sought class certification, a temporary restraining order, and that the court order the defendant to implement a plan that would ensure compliance with public health guidelines. Concurrent with the complaint, the plaintiffs filed a motion for a temporary restraining order, preliminary injunction, and expedited hearing.

The plaintiffs' proposed class was: All current and future persons held at the Weld County Jail who are at high risk of complications from COVID-19 because
(a) they are age 55 or older; or (b) they have the following chronic health conditions: cancer; autoimmune disease (including lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, Sjogren’s, Crohn’s); chronic lung disease (including asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, bronchiectasis, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis or other chronic conditions associated with impaired lung function); history of cardiovascular disease; chronic arthritis; chronic liver or kidney disease; diabetes; hypertension; heart failure; HIV; on chronic steroids or other immunosuppressant medications for chronic conditions; (c) they have history of smoking or other substance abuse disorders; or (d) they are pregnant.
On April 14, 2020, plaintiffs filed a motion to withdraw their request for a temporary restraining order and moved for a setting of a preliminary injunction hearing. On April 15, 2020, Judge Philip A. Brimmer granted the motion and set a preliminary injunction hearing for the week of April 27, 2020.

On April 17, 2020, plaintiffs filed an emergency motion for limited expedited discovery, seeking: (1) an inspection of the Weld County jail by plaintiffs' medical expert; (2) a daily report from April 11 to the date of the preliminary injunction hearing detailing the number of individuals in isolation or quarantine; (3) a daily report from April 11 to the date of the preliminary injunction hearing detailing the number of individuals at the jail who had tested positive for COVID-19; and (4) copies of all policies and procedures issued by defendants concerning COVID-19. Defendants opposed the motion, arguing that the inspection would be unnecessary and an undue burden.

On April 21, 2020, Judge Brimmer granted in part and denied in part plaintiffs' motion for limited expedited discovery. Judge Brimmer granted a limited inspection of Weld County Jail and the requested daily reports, but denied the request for all policies and procedures.

On April 26, 2020, defendant filed a motion for a protective order, seeking to block a public records request by the plaintiffs for "policies, procedures, manuals, guidelines, training materials, and orders relating to the coronavirus." On April 27, 2020, Judge Brimmer denied the motion, asserting that the defendant had failed to show that it would suffer any harm by complying with the plaintiffs' request.

On May 11, the plaintiff's motion for TRO and preliminary injunction was granted in part. 2020 WL 2320174. Specifically, the court ordered that on or before May 18, the defendant provide a list of persons “medically vulnerable” currently held at the Weld County Jail (over the age of 65 or with medical conditions). Additionally, they were required to institute a policy to ensure medically vulnerable inmates are “socially distanced” from other inmates housed in the Jail, enhanced sanitization, and increased monitoring for COVID-19 for those medically vulnerable by May 21. The defendants were also required to provide a report on the same day.

The case has been reassigned to Magistrate Judge S. Kato Crews on May 12. On May 18, the defendants notified the court of their complete compliance with the court's preliminary injunction order. The plaintiffs disagreed and filed a motion for a hearing regarding the defendant's non-compliance on May 21. On July 2, the court denied the motion finding that the plaintiff's purpose of asking for a hearing is unclear. The court noted that the plaintiffs did not ask that defendant be held in civil contempt for violating the preliminary injunction order nor ask the court to modify the preliminary injunction order. Instead, they sought a hearing because of an “imbalance in access to relevant information," but failed to explain why this information must be probed at a hearing rather than through the discovery process.

On July 24, the plaintiffs sought to renew the preliminary injunction for an additional 30 days, which was granted on July 29. The plaintiffs again sought to renew the preliminary injunction for an additional 30 days on September 3, which was granted the next day. The preliminary injunction continued to be extended until December 9, 2020.

On November 11, 2020, the parties filed a joint motion for the preliminary approval of class settlement, certification of a class and appointment of class counsel, and permission to post class notice. The parties reported that they had successfully negotiated a resolution to the dispute. The parties included in their motion a proposed consent decree that would ensure measures to protect class members from COVID-19.

The parties reported that the proposed consent decree was negotiated at arms-length without any conflicts of interest. Both parties conceded that they were uncertain of what the eventual outcome of the litigation would be considering the novelty of COVID-19. Both parties agreed that a settlement would be more valuable than proceeding to trial, given the complexity of the resolution and the immediacy of the COVID-19 crisis.

The proposed consent decree implemented the CDC's definition of "medically vulnerable", subject to future modification by the CDC. The defendant agreed to identify medically vulnerable inmates during booking and intake and to protect such individuals during the remainder of the intake process. The WCJ agreed to attempt to house medically vulnerable inmates in single-cell units during intake and to use specified procedures to minimize exposure if single cells are not available. The WCJ agreed to continue to limit the exposure of medically vulnerable inmates in the general jail population and pledged to permit the maximum amount of daily out-of-cell time for inmates consistent with social distancing protocols.

As part of the consent decree, the WCJ agreed to medically isolate COVID-19 positive inmates in isolation units and to ensure that such an environment would be non-punitive. The jail also promised to use enhanced sanitation procedures, to distribute masks, and to regularly monitor medically vulnerable inmates for COVID-19 symptoms. The jail also agreed to provide testing for inmates consistent with CDC guidelines and to continue remote visitation opportunities.

The defendant agreed to maintain modified arrest standards that would remain in place for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis and pledged to advise Weld County police chiefs to be judicious with jail space.

The consent decree also provided that the defendant comply with robust data reporting to plaintiffs' counsel to monitor compliance with the decree. The plaintiffs and the class were required to release all claims for injunctive and declaratory relief arising from COVID-19 at the WCJ prior to the decree. The expiration of the decree was set at the expiration of the executive order made by the Governor of Colorado declaring a state of emergency, unless the order was renewed or replaced. The defendant also agreed to pay the plaintiffs' counsel $122,387.60 for attorney's fees and costs.

The November 11 motion also included a certification of settlement class and appointment of class counsel. The parties sought to certify all past, present, and future inmates housed at WCJ from April 7, 2020 through the end of the COVID-19 emergency who are "medically vulnerable". The two proposed class representatives fell within the high-risk populations vulnerable to COVID-19. Counsel for the plaintiffs were appointed class counsel.

On December 11, 2020, Judge Brimmer ordered the parties to file supplemental briefs to clarify the meaning of "past" and "future" within the definition of the class and to discuss locations for posting the notice of the settlement within the WCJ in English and Spanish, as well as a location for sending objections.

On December 29, 2020, Judge Brimmer granted the joint motion for preliminary approval of class action settlement, certification of a class and appointment of class counsel, and permission to post class notice. The parties agreed to withdraw past inmates from the proposed class and agreed that the extension of the consent decree to the end of the COVID-19 emergency covers future medically vulnerable inmates. The parties designated one of plaintiffs' counsel as the person to receive objections to the proposed settlement.

The parties also agreed to upload the class notice to the WCJ's jail-wide television system in English and Spanish. The court preliminarily certified all present and future medically vulnerable inmates through the end of the COVID-19 emergency and ordered that plaintiffs' attorneys are appointed class counsel.

The case is ongoing.

Cedar Hobbs - 04/12/2020
Averyn Lee - 09/25/2020
Nicholas Gillan - 01/27/2021


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process
Due Process: Substantive Due Process
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
Defendant-type
Corrections
Jurisdiction-wide
General
Bathing and hygiene
Conditions of confinement
Sanitation / living conditions
Medical/Mental Health
COVID-19 Mitigation Granted
COVID-19 Mitigation Requested
Medical care, general
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) Weld County
Plaintiff Description All current and future persons held at the Weld County Jail who are at high risk of complications from COVID-19.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Affiliates (any)
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Attorneys fees
Source of Relief Litigation
Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2020 - n/a
Filed 04/07/2020
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  ACLU and Denver Civil Rights Attorneys File Class Action Lawsuit in Federal Court Against Weld County Sheriff
American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado
Date: April 8, 2020
By: ACLU of Colorado
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
D. Colo.
02/25/2021
1:20-cv-00977
JC-CO-0010-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
D. Colo.
04/07/2020
Motion for Temporary Restraining Order, Preliminary Injunction, and Expedited Hearing [ECF# 1 (& 1-1 to 1-5)]
JC-CO-0010-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Colo.
04/07/2020
Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification [ECF# 2]
JC-CO-0010-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Colo.
04/08/2020
Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief [ECF# 7]
JC-CO-0010-0003.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Colo.
04/13/2020
Defendant's Response to Motion for Temporary Restraining Order, Preliminary Injunction, and Expedited Hearing [ECF 1] [ECF# 26 (& 26-1 to 26-10)]
JC-CO-0010-0004.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Colo.
04/13/2020
Plaintiffs' Notice of Supplemental Evidence and Authority in Support of Plaintiffs' Request for Injunctive Relief (ECF Doc. 1) [ECF# 28 (& 28-1 to 28-8)]
JC-CO-0010-0005.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Colo.
04/17/2020
Emergency Motion for Limited Expedited Discovery [ECF# 31]
JC-CO-0010-0006.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Colo.
04/20/2020
Defendant's Response to Plaintiffs' Emergency Motion for Limited Expedited Discovery [ECF 31] [ECF# 34 (& 34-1 to 34-3)]
JC-CO-0010-0007.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Colo.
04/24/2020
Defendant's Supplemental Response to Motion for Temporary Restraining Order, Preliminary Injunction, and Expedited Hearing [ECF 1] in Compliance with Court Order [ECF 39] [ECF# 41]
JC-CO-0010-0009.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Colo.
04/24/2020
Defendant's Notice of Errata for Response to Motion for Temporary Restraining Order, Preliminary Injunction, and Expedited Hearing [ECF 1] [ECF# 43, 43-1]
JC-CO-0010-0008.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Colo.
04/28/2020
Plaintiffs' Reply to Defendant's Response [DOC. #26] and Supplemental Response [DOC. #41] [ECF# 49, 49-1 & 49-2]
JC-CO-0010-0010.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Colo.
05/11/2020
Order [ECF# 55] (2020 WL 2320174)
JC-CO-0010-0011.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Colo.
05/18/2020
Defendant's Notice of Complete Compliance with this Court's Preliminary Injunction Order [ECF 55] [ECF# 60 (& 60-1 to 60-14)]
JC-CO-0010-0012.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Colo.
05/21/2020
Plaintiffs' Motion for Forthwith Hearing Regarding Defendant's Non-Compliance with the Court's Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 62]
JC-CO-0010-0013.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Colo.
05/27/2020
Notice of Submission of Supplemental Support to Plaintiffs' Motion for Forthwith Hearing [ECF# 63, 63-1]
JC-CO-0010-0014.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Colo.
06/08/2020
Defendant's Response to Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification [ECF# 64, 64-1]
JC-CO-0010-0015.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Colo.
06/08/2020
Defendant's Answer, Defenses, and Affirmative Defenses to Plaintiffs' Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief [ECF# 65]
JC-CO-0010-0016.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Colo.
06/11/2020
Defendant's Response to Plaintiffs' Motion for Forthwith Hearing [ECF# 66 (incl. 66-1 to 66-7)]
JC-CO-0010-0017.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Colo.
06/29/2020
Plaintiffs' Reply in Support of Motion for Class Certification [ECF# 71]
JC-CO-0010-0018.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Colo.
07/02/2020
Order [ECF# 78]
JC-CO-0010-0019.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Colo.
11/30/2020
Joint Motion for Preliminary Approval of Class Action Settlement, Certification of a Class and Appointment of Class Counsel, and Permission to Post Class Notice [ECF# 96 & 96-1 to 96-5]
JC-CO-0010-0020.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Colo.
12/11/2020
Order [ECF# 100] (2020 WL 7319081)
JC-CO-0010-0021.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Colo.
12/29/2020
Order [ECF# 102]
JC-CO-0010-0022.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Brimmer, Philip A. (D. Colo.) show/hide docs
JC-CO-0010-0011 | JC-CO-0010-0019 | JC-CO-0010-0021 | JC-CO-0010-0022 | JC-CO-0010-9000
Crews, Shane Kato Court not on record [Magistrate] show/hide docs
JC-CO-0010-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Fairhurst, Michael Paul (Colorado) show/hide docs
JC-CO-0010-0001 | JC-CO-0010-0002 | JC-CO-0010-0003 | JC-CO-0010-0005 | JC-CO-0010-0006 | JC-CO-0010-0010 | JC-CO-0010-0013 | JC-CO-0010-0014 | JC-CO-0010-0018 | JC-CO-0010-0020 | JC-CO-0010-9000
Groth, Lauren Elizabeth (Colorado) show/hide docs
JC-CO-0010-0001 | JC-CO-0010-0002 | JC-CO-0010-0003 | JC-CO-0010-0005 | JC-CO-0010-0006 | JC-CO-0010-0010 | JC-CO-0010-0013 | JC-CO-0010-0014 | JC-CO-0010-0018 | JC-CO-0010-0020 | JC-CO-0010-9000
Hubbard, Jamie Hughes (Colorado) show/hide docs
JC-CO-0010-0001 | JC-CO-0010-0002 | JC-CO-0010-0003 | JC-CO-0010-0005 | JC-CO-0010-0006 | JC-CO-0010-0010 | JC-CO-0010-0013 | JC-CO-0010-0014 | JC-CO-0010-0018 | JC-CO-0010-0020 | JC-CO-0010-9000
Killmer, Darold W. (Colorado) show/hide docs
JC-CO-0010-0001 | JC-CO-0010-0002 | JC-CO-0010-0003 | JC-CO-0010-0005 | JC-CO-0010-0006 | JC-CO-0010-0010 | JC-CO-0010-0013 | JC-CO-0010-0014 | JC-CO-0010-0018 | JC-CO-0010-0020 | JC-CO-0010-9000
Lane, David A. (Colorado) show/hide docs
JC-CO-0010-0001 | JC-CO-0010-0002 | JC-CO-0010-0003 | JC-CO-0010-0005 | JC-CO-0010-0006 | JC-CO-0010-0010 | JC-CO-0010-0013 | JC-CO-0010-0014 | JC-CO-0010-0018 | JC-CO-0010-0020 | JC-CO-0010-9000
Maxted, David George (Colorado) show/hide docs
JC-CO-0010-0001 | JC-CO-0010-0002 | JC-CO-0010-0003 | JC-CO-0010-0005 | JC-CO-0010-0006 | JC-CO-0010-0010 | JC-CO-0010-0013 | JC-CO-0010-0014 | JC-CO-0010-0018 | JC-CO-0010-0020 | JC-CO-0010-9000
McNulty, Andrew (Colorado) show/hide docs
JC-CO-0010-0001 | JC-CO-0010-0002 | JC-CO-0010-0003 | JC-CO-0010-0005 | JC-CO-0010-0006 | JC-CO-0010-0010 | JC-CO-0010-0013 | JC-CO-0010-0014 | JC-CO-0010-0018 | JC-CO-0010-0020 | JC-CO-0010-9000
Neel, Sara R. (Colorado) show/hide docs
JC-CO-0010-0001 | JC-CO-0010-0002 | JC-CO-0010-0003 | JC-CO-0010-0005 | JC-CO-0010-0006 | JC-CO-0010-0010 | JC-CO-0010-0013 | JC-CO-0010-0014 | JC-CO-0010-0018 | JC-CO-0010-0020 | JC-CO-0010-9000
Silverstein, Mark (Colorado) show/hide docs
JC-CO-0010-0001 | JC-CO-0010-0002 | JC-CO-0010-0003 | JC-CO-0010-0005 | JC-CO-0010-0006 | JC-CO-0010-0010 | JC-CO-0010-0013 | JC-CO-0010-0014 | JC-CO-0010-0018 | JC-CO-0010-0020 | JC-CO-0010-9000
Wallace, Rebecca Teitelbaum (Colorado) show/hide docs
JC-CO-0010-0001 | JC-CO-0010-0002 | JC-CO-0010-0003 | JC-CO-0010-0005 | JC-CO-0010-0006 | JC-CO-0010-0010 | JC-CO-0010-0013 | JC-CO-0010-0014 | JC-CO-0010-0018 | JC-CO-0010-0020 | JC-CO-0010-9000
Williams, Daniel David (Colorado) show/hide docs
JC-CO-0010-0001 | JC-CO-0010-0002 | JC-CO-0010-0003 | JC-CO-0010-0005 | JC-CO-0010-0006 | JC-CO-0010-0010 | JC-CO-0010-0013 | JC-CO-0010-0014 | JC-CO-0010-0018 | JC-CO-0010-0020 | JC-CO-0010-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Hegarty, Matthew Joseph (Colorado) show/hide docs
JC-CO-0010-0004 | JC-CO-0010-0007 | JC-CO-0010-0008 | JC-CO-0010-0009 | JC-CO-0010-0012 | JC-CO-0010-0015 | JC-CO-0010-0016 | JC-CO-0010-0017 | JC-CO-0010-0020 | JC-CO-0010-9000
Peters, John Felix (Colorado) show/hide docs
JC-CO-0010-0004 | JC-CO-0010-0007 | JC-CO-0010-0008 | JC-CO-0010-0009 | JC-CO-0010-0012 | JC-CO-0010-0015 | JC-CO-0010-0016 | JC-CO-0010-0017 | JC-CO-0010-0020 | JC-CO-0010-9000
Ringel, Andrew David (Colorado) show/hide docs
JC-CO-0010-0004 | JC-CO-0010-0007 | JC-CO-0010-0008 | JC-CO-0010-0009 | JC-CO-0010-0012 | JC-CO-0010-0015 | JC-CO-0010-0016 | JC-CO-0010-0017 | JC-CO-0010-0020 | JC-CO-0010-9000

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