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Case Name Fernandez-Rodriguez v. Licon-Vitale JC-NY-0080
Docket / Court 1:20-cv-03315 ( S.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Special Collection COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Case Summary
COVID-19 Summary: This is a class action brought by five detainees at the Metropolitan Correctional Center. The plaintiffs are at special risk from COVID-19 due to underlying medical conditions and seek release from detention and enforcement of preventative measures. On July 2, the court denied ... read more >
COVID-19 Summary: This is a class action brought by five detainees at the Metropolitan Correctional Center. The plaintiffs are at special risk from COVID-19 due to underlying medical conditions and seek release from detention and enforcement of preventative measures. On July 2, the court denied both the defendants' motion to partially dismiss the case and the plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction. On January 13, 2021, the plaintiffs filed an amended petition, narrowing the injunctive relief being sought to a permanent injunction. The case is ongoing.


On April 28, 2020, five individuals detained in the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) petitioned for the release or transfer of detainees as well as enforcement of proper distancing, hygiene, and testing in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Represented by private counsel, the plaintiffs brought this lawsuit as a habeas petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2241, and as an injunctive and declaratory action under 28 U.S.C. § 2201. Specifically, they alleged that their continued detention violated their Fifth and Eighth Amendment rights by subjecting them to a serious risk of contracting COVID-19 by failing to keep social distancing, maintain hygiene, and to provide adequate testing and medical care for those suffering from COVID-19. The plaintiffs sought preliminary and permanent injunctions that would require increased monitoring and testing, provide treatment and improve hygiene and the release or transfer of detainees to another facility where appropriate preventive measures were possible. The plaintiffs also sought an independent monitor to ensure compliance. The case was assigned to Judge Edgardo Ramos and Magistrate Judge Sarah L. Cave.

The plaintiffs are at increased risk from COVID-19 due to underlying medical conditions such as chronic asthma, obesity, pulmonary disease, and hypertension. They proposed a class of all current and future detainees in custody at the MCC during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The defendants moved to dismiss the case on May 20, claiming that the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) precludes the court from granting such releases and that the PLRA specifies that the Bureau of Prisons' home confinement decisions are not judicially reviewable.

On May 26, the plaintiffs sought a preliminary injunction for immediate testing, quarantine, isolation, and treatment, as well as access to protective equipment and sanitation supplies. They further sought a reduction of the population by 50% and implementation of a policy for release. Oral argument was held regarding the preliminary injunction on June 2, 2020.

On July 2, the court denied both the defendants' motion to partially dismiss the case and the plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction. 2020 WL 3618941. While the court found that the inmates were likely to show that the defendant's response to the pandemic was "ad-hoc and overlooked many gaps in its scheme to identify and isolate infected inmates — creating conditions that posed a substantial risk to the health of all inmates," the court concluded that the plaintiffs were not substantially likely to show that the MCC’s failures were a result of deliberate indifference. The defendant's motion to partially dismiss the case was denied because the court found that that there were no statutory or equitable bars prohibiting the court from considering release as a remedy for inmates.

The defendants filed a response to the petition on July 23, and in August, the plaintiffs moved for a conference regarding the update on conditions at MCC, which was subsequently denied. The court directed the parties to meet and confer regarding discovery.

On January 13, 2021, the plaintiffs filed an amended petition, adding named petitioners, removing named petitioners who were no longer incarcerated, and updating factual allegations based on events occurring since the original petition was filed. No new claims or requests for relief were added. The defendants continue to routinely file status reports with the court. The case remains ongoing.

Averyn Lee - 09/22/2020
Chandler Hart-McGonigle - 11/15/2020
Zofia Peach - 02/23/2021


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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 denied
COVID-19
Mitigation Denied
Mitigation Requested
Release Denied
Release Requested
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Bathing and hygiene
Conditions of confinement
Sanitation / living conditions
Totality of conditions
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Special Case Type
Habeas
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Habeas Corpus, 28 U.S.C. §§ 2241-2253; 2254; 2255
Defendant(s) Metropolitan Correctional Center Warden
Plaintiff Description Five detainees at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, who are at special risk from COVID-19 due to underlying medical conditions, seeking release from detention and enforcement of preventative measures. The proposed class includes all current and future detainees in custody at the MCC during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Pending
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief None yet
None
Source of Relief None yet
None
Filed 04/28/2020
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)
  ‘Ineptitude and Indifference’: Class Action Filed Over Metropolitan Correctional Center’s Handling of COVID-19 Outbreak
ClassAction.org
Date: Apr. 28, 2020
By: Corrado Rizzi
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
S.D.N.Y.
02/19/2021
1:20-cv-03315
JC-NY-0080-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
S.D.N.Y.
04/28/2020
Class Action Petition Seeking Writs of Habeas Corpus [ECF# 1]
JC-NY-0080-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D.N.Y.
04/28/2020
Memorandum of Law in Support of Petitioners' Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order and a Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 5 & 4 & 6-1]
JC-NY-0080-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D.N.Y.
04/28/2020
Declarations in Support of Plaintiff's Emergency Motion for Order to Show Cause and Temporary Restraining Order ECF 4 [ECF# 7, 7-1 to 7-4, 8, 9, & 11-14]
JC-NY-0080-0003.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D.N.Y.
05/20/2020
Notice of Motion to Dismiss Certain Claims for Relief [ECF# 46, 47]
JC-NY-0080-0005.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D.N.Y.
05/26/2020
Notice of Motion and Declarations in Support [ECF# 50, 52, 53]
JC-NY-0080-0004.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D.N.Y.
05/26/2020
Declaration of Arlo Devlin-Brown [ECF# 51 (incl. 51-1 to 51-34)]
JC-NY-0080-0006.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D.N.Y.
05/27/2020
Declaration of Ishita Kala [ECF# 54 (incl. 54-1 to 54-41)]
JC-NY-0080-0007.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D.N.Y.
05/27/2020
Petitioners' Memorandum of Law in Opposition to Respondent's Partial Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 57]
JC-NY-0080-0008.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D.N.Y.
05/29/2020
Memorandum of Law in Opposition to Petitioners' Motion for Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 59]
JC-NY-0080-0010.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D.N.Y.
06/01/2020
Reply Memorandum of Law in Support of Respondent's Partial Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 73]
JC-NY-0080-0011.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D.N.Y.
06/01/2020
Petitioners' Reply Memorandum of Law in Support of Motion for a Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 74]
JC-NY-0080-0009.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D.N.Y.
07/02/2020
Opinion & Order [ECF# 89] (2020 WL 3618941)
JC-NY-0080-0012.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D.N.Y.
01/13/2021
First Amended Class Action Petition Seeking Writs of Habeas Corpus [ECF# 118]
JC-NY-0080-0013.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Ramos, Edgardo (S.D.N.Y.) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0080-0012 | JC-NY-0080-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Devlin−Brown, Arlo (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0080-0001 | JC-NY-0080-0002 | JC-NY-0080-0004 | JC-NY-0080-0006 | JC-NY-0080-0008 | JC-NY-0080-0009 | JC-NY-0080-0013 | JC-NY-0080-9000
Kala, Ishita (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0080-0001 | JC-NY-0080-0007 | JC-NY-0080-0013
Margulies, Adam Z. (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0080-0008
Ruffino, Andrew Arthur (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0080-0001 | JC-NY-0080-0002 | JC-NY-0080-0004 | JC-NY-0080-0008 | JC-NY-0080-0009 | JC-NY-0080-0013 | JC-NY-0080-9000
Sprague, Timothy C (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0080-0001 | JC-NY-0080-0002 | JC-NY-0080-0004 | JC-NY-0080-0008 | JC-NY-0080-0009 | JC-NY-0080-0013
Vinegrad, Alan (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0080-0001 | JC-NY-0080-0002 | JC-NY-0080-0004 | JC-NY-0080-0008 | JC-NY-0080-0009 | JC-NY-0080-0013 | JC-NY-0080-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Barnea, Jean-David (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0080-0005 | JC-NY-0080-0010 | JC-NY-0080-0011 | JC-NY-0080-9000
Berman, Geoffrey S. (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0080-0005 | JC-NY-0080-0010 | JC-NY-0080-0011
Hu, Jessica Jean (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0080-0005 | JC-NY-0080-0010 | JC-NY-0080-0011 | JC-NY-0080-9000
Rovner, Allison (New York) show/hide docs
JC-NY-0080-0005 | JC-NY-0080-0010 | JC-NY-0080-0011 | JC-NY-0080-9000

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