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Case Name Wilson v. Ponce PC-CA-0080
Docket / Court 2:20-cv-04451 ( C.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Special Collection COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Attorney Organization ACLU Affiliates (any)
ACLU of Southern California
Prison Law Office
Case Summary
COVID-19 Summary: This is a class action by individuals held at Terminal Island, a Care Level 3 medical facility designed for those with long-term medical needs. The plaintiffs alleged violations of their Eighth Amendment rights and sought declaratory and injunctive relief, and a writ of habeas ... read more >
COVID-19 Summary: This is a class action by individuals held at Terminal Island, a Care Level 3 medical facility designed for those with long-term medical needs. The plaintiffs alleged violations of their Eighth Amendment rights and sought declaratory and injunctive relief, and a writ of habeas corpus requiring immediate downsizing of the population, with priority given to those with heightened medical vulnerability. They requested a TRO and a preliminary injunction for risk-mitigation measures. The habeas claims were subsequently dismissed. Following unsuccessful mediation, the plaintiffs filed a motion for preliminary injunction requiring the defendants to implement an appropriate regimen of targeted surveillance testing. A hearing is scheduled for February 8.


On May 16, 2020, three individuals filed this class action, representing a class of all medically vulnerable persons who are, or will be, incarcerated at the Terminal Island Correctional Institution, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The plaintiffs, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Southern California, the Prison Law Office, and private counsel, brought this action against the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and the warden of Terminal Island, as a habeas petition under 28 U.S.C. § 2241, an injunctive action, and as a declaratory action under § 2201, alleging unconstitutional conditions of confinement that violated their Eighth Amendment rights. Specifically, they alleged that the defendants had disregarded the need to reduce population density despite broadened discretion by the BOP to authorize home confinement for those with shorter sentences, which allowed 60% of the prison population to become infected with the virus. The action was filed after eight COVID-19 related deaths at Terminal Island, despite the facility being a specialized correctional institution for those with long-term medical or mental health care needs. The case was assigned to Judge Dean D. Pregerson and referred to Magistrate Judge Michael R. Wilner.

On May 22, the plaintiffs filed an ex parte application for a temporary restraining order (TRO) and preliminary injunction, requesting the court to impose a structured, court-supervised process for individualized consideration of each prisoners's release on an accelerated schedule, and that the defendants be required to adhere to CDC guidance regarding prevention and treatment of COVID-19.

Additionally on May 22, the case was reassigned to Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald.

On May 27, the plaintiffs filed an ex parte application to provisionally certify the class. The defendants filed motions in opposition to the TRO and the motion to certify class on May 27 and June 1, respectively.

On June 8, the district court denied the plaintiffs' motion for TRO, finding that the plaintiffs' habeas claim did not encompass the TRO they were seeking. 2020 WL 3053375. The court allowed the plaintiffs to file a supplemental TRO brief.

In the brief on June 22, the plaintiffs sought an order requiring the defendant to improve conditions for all prisoners at Terminal Island in the form of social distancing, provision of sanitary products and personal protective equipment (PPE), improved sanitary practices, adequate testing, contact tracing, and isolation measures. They further sought an order requiring the defendants to transfer non-violent prisoners with viable home confinement plans and to evaluate quickly compassionate release requests so that they may be escalated to the courts as appropriate.

The defendants sought to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction and for failure to state a claim on June 29. They argued that the plaintiffs failed to exhaust their habeas claims, and that they could not demonstrate an unreasonable risk of harm to the plaintiffs and deliberate indifference on the part of the defendants. They also argued that the plaintiffs did not exhaust the administrative remedies under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA).

On July 14, the court denied in part the supplemental TRO application, however, the court found that the PLRA did not bar the requested relief and ordered an expert to tour the prison and report back. On July 28, the plaintiffs appealed the June 8 order denying the TRO and the June 10 amended order to the Ninth Circuit (docket number 20-55760).

As per the July 14 order, an expert report regarding the defendant's current status and management of the COVID‐19 outbreak was submitted by Dr. Rowe on August 24. In his report, Dr. Rowe noted that the prison "remains and will remain constantly teetering on the brink of a recurrent outbreak . . . [and m]uch of the population is high risk for severe complications and death from this infection." He also proposed detailed recommendations including but not limited to: social distancing, rapid testing, education, effective reintegration of COVID-negative individuals, and delaying reopening of the institution to additional outsiders until after influenza season.

The parties filed a stipulation to voluntarily dismiss the appeal on September 8, and the Ninth Circuit dismissed the appeal on October 19. 2020 WL 6293689.

The court then ordered the parties to meet and confer to agree on the appointment of a mediator, and the court continued the hearing on the supplemental TRO application to October 14. The parties agreed to a mediator, and on September 29, the court appointed Judge Andrew J. Guilford (a former district judge for the Central District of California) to serve as mediator. To allow the parties and Judge Guilford sufficient time to conduct mediation, the court once again continued the hearing on the supplemental TRO application to December 16, 2020. At the hearing, the parties raised concerns about resolving the case through mediation.

On January 4, 2021, Judge Fitzgerald denied the defendants' motion to dismiss with respect to the Eighth Amendment claim and granted the motion to dismiss with respect to the habeas claims. The following week, the plaintiffs filed a motion for preliminary injunction requiring the defendants to implement an appropriate regimen of targeted surveillance testing. The defendants responded on January 25, and a hearing was scheduled for February 8. The court further requested that the parties file supplemental briefs in connection with the motion for class certification so that the court may rule on the pending classification. These briefs were due on February 10.

The case is ongoing.

Averyn Lee - 09/22/2020
Emily Kempa - 10/30/2020
Zofia Peach - 02/07/2021


compress summary

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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
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Medical care, unspecified
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Special Case Type
Habeas
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Ex parte Young (federal or state officials)
Ex Parte Young (Federal) or Bivens
Habeas Corpus, 28 U.S.C. §§ 2241-2253; 2254; 2255
Defendant(s) Director of the Bureau of Prisons
Warden of Terminal Island
Plaintiff Description Three individuals held at Terminal Island, a Care Level 3 medical facility designed for those with long-term medical needs, seeking to represent a proposed class of all medically vulnerable persons who are, or will be, incarcerated at Terminal Island.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Affiliates (any)
ACLU of Southern California
Prison Law Office
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 05/16/2020
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)
Court Docket(s)
C.D. Cal.
02/03/2021
2:20-cv-04451
PC-CA-0080-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
C.D. Cal.
05/16/2020
Complaint - Class Action for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief and Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus [ECF# 1]
PC-CA-0080-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
C.D. Cal.
05/22/2020
Plaintiff-Petitioners' Notice of Ex Parte Application and Ex Parte Application for Temporary Restraining Order and Order to Show Cause Re: Preliminary Injunction; Memorandum of Points and Authorities [ECF# 10, 10-2]
PC-CA-0080-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
C.D. Cal.
05/27/2020
Plaintiff-Petitioners' Notice of Ex Parte Application and Ex Parte Application for Provisional Class Certification [ECF# 22, 22-1, 22-2, 22-3, 22-4]
PC-CA-0080-0003.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
C.D. Cal.
05/27/2020
Respondents' Opposition to Ex Parte Application for Temporary Restraining Order and Order to Show Cause Re: Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 24]
PC-CA-0080-0004.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
C.D. Cal.
05/27/2020
Declarations in Support of Respondents' Opposition to Ex Parte Application for Temporary Restraining Order and Order to Show Cause Re: Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 25, 26, 27, 28]
PC-CA-0080-0007.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
C.D. Cal.
06/01/2020
Plaintiff-Petitioners' Reply Supporting Ex Parte Application for Temporary Restraining Order and Order to Show Cause Re: Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 30, 30-1]
PC-CA-0080-0005.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
C.D. Cal.
06/01/2020
Respondents' Opposition to Ex Parte Application for Provisional Class Certification [ECF# 31]
PC-CA-0080-0006.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
C.D. Cal.
06/03/2020
Plaintiff-Petitioners' Reply Supporting Ex Parte Application for Provisional Class Certification [ECF# 33]
PC-CA-0080-0008.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
C.D. Cal.
06/08/2020
Order Denying Ex Parte Application for Temporary Restraining Order and Order to Show Cause Re: Preliminary Injunction [10] [ECF# 36] (2020 WL 3053375)
PC-CA-0080-0010.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
C.D. Cal.
06/10/2020
Amended Order Denying Ex Parte Application for Temporary Restraining Order and Order to Show Cause Re: Preliminary Inunction [10] [ECF# 41]
PC-CA-0080-0009.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
C.D. Cal.
06/22/2020
Plaintiff-Petitioners' Supplemental Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support of Ex Parte Application for Temporary Restraining Order and Order to Show Cause Re: Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 49]
PC-CA-0080-0011.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
C.D. Cal.
06/22/2020
Plaintiff-Petitioners' Supplemental Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support of Ex Parte Application for Temporary Restraining Order and Order to Show Cause Re: Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 49]
PC-CA-0080-0014.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
C.D. Cal.
06/29/2020
Respondents' Notice of Motion and Motion to Dismiss Under Fed R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6); Memorandum of Points and Authorities; and [Proposed] Order [ECF# 55 (& 55-1)]
PC-CA-0080-0012.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
C.D. Cal.
07/06/2020
Plaintiff-Petitioners’ Opposition to Respondents' Motion to Dismiss Under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) [ECF# 56]
PC-CA-0080-0013.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
C.D. Cal.
07/13/2020
Respondents' Reply in Support of Motion to Dismiss Under Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) [ECF# 57]
PC-CA-0080-0015.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
C.D. Cal.
07/14/2020
Order Re: Supplemental Memorandum in Support of Ex Parte Application for Temporary Restraining Order and Order to Show Cause Re: Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 58] (2020 WL 5118066)
PC-CA-0080-0016.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
C.D. Cal.
08/24/2020
Report on Current Management and Future Risks Associated with COVID-19 Infection at FCI Terminal Island [ECF# 74-1]
PC-CA-0080-0017.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
U.S. Court of Appeals
10/19/2020
Order (2020 WL 6293689)
PC-CA-0080-0018.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: Westlaw
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Judges Fitzgerald, Michael Walter (C.D. Cal.) show/hide docs
PC-CA-0080-0009 | PC-CA-0080-0010 | PC-CA-0080-0016 | PC-CA-0080-9000
Wilner, Michael R. Court not on record [Magistrate] show/hide docs
PC-CA-0080-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bannett, Shoshana E. (California) show/hide docs
PC-CA-0080-0001 | PC-CA-0080-0002 | PC-CA-0080-0003 | PC-CA-0080-0005 | PC-CA-0080-0008 | PC-CA-0080-0011 | PC-CA-0080-0013 | PC-CA-0080-9000
Bibring, Peter (California) show/hide docs
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Bird, Terry W. (California) show/hide docs
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Eliasberg, Peter J. (California) show/hide docs
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Lee, Jumin (California) show/hide docs
PC-CA-0080-0001 | PC-CA-0080-0002 | PC-CA-0080-0003 | PC-CA-0080-0005 | PC-CA-0080-0008 | PC-CA-0080-0011 | PC-CA-0080-0013 | PC-CA-0080-9000
Norman, Sara Linda (California) show/hide docs
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Rim, Naeun (California) show/hide docs
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Rocos, Oliver (California) show/hide docs
PC-CA-0080-0011 | PC-CA-0080-0013 | PC-CA-0080-9000
Shin, Kate S (California) show/hide docs
PC-CA-0080-0011 | PC-CA-0080-0013 | PC-CA-0080-9000
Specter, Donald H. (California) show/hide docs
PC-CA-0080-0001 | PC-CA-0080-0002 | PC-CA-0080-0003 | PC-CA-0080-0005 | PC-CA-0080-0008 | PC-CA-0080-0011 | PC-CA-0080-0013 | PC-CA-0080-0014 | PC-CA-0080-9000
Threatt, Jimmy (California) show/hide docs
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Wolpert, Dorothy (California) show/hide docs
PC-CA-0080-0001 | PC-CA-0080-0002 | PC-CA-0080-0003 | PC-CA-0080-0005 | PC-CA-0080-0008 | PC-CA-0080-0011 | PC-CA-0080-0013 | PC-CA-0080-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Beck, Daniel A (California) show/hide docs
PC-CA-0080-9000
Green, Paul Bartholomew (California) show/hide docs
PC-CA-0080-0004 | PC-CA-0080-0006 | PC-CA-0080-0007 | PC-CA-0080-0012 | PC-CA-0080-0015 | PC-CA-0080-9000
Han, Chung H (California) show/hide docs
PC-CA-0080-0004 | PC-CA-0080-0006 | PC-CA-0080-0007 | PC-CA-0080-0012 | PC-CA-0080-0015 | PC-CA-0080-9000
Hanna, Nicola T. (California) show/hide docs
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Harris, David M (California) show/hide docs
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Osinoff, Joanne S (California) show/hide docs
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Staub, Keith M (California) show/hide docs
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Thayer, Damon A (California) show/hide docs
PC-CA-0080-0004 | PC-CA-0080-0006 | PC-CA-0080-0007 | PC-CA-0080-0012 | PC-CA-0080-0015 | PC-CA-0080-9000
Yang, Jasmin (California) show/hide docs
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