University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name Smith v. Dewine PC-OH-0036
Docket / Court 2:20-cv-2471 ( S.D. Ohio )
State/Territory Ohio
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Special Collection COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Case Summary
COVID-19 Summary: This was a putative class action filed in May 2020 by four prisoners incarcerated in the Ohio state prison system who sought improved prevention measures, testing, and medical care during the COVID-19 pandemic. The court denied the plaintiffs' demand for a preliminary injunction ... read more >
COVID-19 Summary: This was a putative class action filed in May 2020 by four prisoners incarcerated in the Ohio state prison system who sought improved prevention measures, testing, and medical care during the COVID-19 pandemic. The court denied the plaintiffs' demand for a preliminary injunction on August 3, 2020 and the plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed the case on November 13, 2020 and the case was closed on December 3.


This putative class action lawsuit was filed on May 15, 2020 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Eastern Division. The suit was brought by four prisoners in the Ohio state prison system (two in the Marion Correctional Institute, one in the Allen Correctional Institute, and another in the Richland Correctional Institute). Represented by private counsel, they brought this suit against Governor Mike DeWine and Annette Chambers-Smith, the Director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction ("the Department").

The plaintiffs sued under federal law, 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 28 U.S.C. §§ 2201-2202, and the Ohio Constitution, seeking relief based on deprivations of their Eighth and Sixth Amendment rights. The suit alleged that the Department had insufficient capacity to prevent and treat COVID-19 and the failure to implement preventative measures and appropriate medical care led to an exponential increase in infections across the state's prison system. They also alleged that the Department failed to institute a policy that would enable attorneys to effectively communicate with their clients while in-person visitation was suspended. The prisoners requested declaratory and injunctive relief, including release for a certain category of prisoners and adequate COVID-19 prevention, testing, and care, as well as attorneys' fees and costs. The prisoners alleged that as of May 2020, the Department has reported "that of 7,536 tests given, 4,439 have been positive... 59% of the tests given," and that 49 prisoners have died as a result of COVID-19 while in the custody of the Department. The case was assigned to Magistrate Judge Kimberly A. Jolson, and then later Judge Edmund A. Sargus.

On June 19, the prisoners filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to prohibit defendants from violating their constitutional rights by withholding protective measures and care necessary to protect their health.

On June 26 and June 30, both defendants independently filed motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim and lack of jurisdiction.

On August 3, Judge Sargus issued an opinion and order that denied the prisoners' motion for a preliminary injunction, granted the defendants' motion to dismiss in part as to the claims under state law and against the Governor, but allowed the constitutional claims to go forward against the Director of the Department. 2020 WL 4436362. Judge Sargus denied the motion for preliminary injunction because the evidence presented failed to show that the Department displayed deliberate indifference when responding to the risk. Defendants provided evidence "showing [they] reasonably sought to implement responsive actions to the spread of the virus in accordance with CDC guidelines." Judge Sargus also noted that the prisoners had failed to identify any ongoing litigation they were involved in that would implicate a Sixth Amendment right to counsel and also failed to provide substantial evidence of denial of access to counsel.

On November 13, the prisoners filed a notice of voluntary dismissal. The case was dismissed without prejudice on December 3, 2020.

Chandler Hart-McGonigle - 11/27/2020


compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Issues
Constitutional Clause
Assistance of counsel (6th Amendment)
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief denied
COVID-19
Mitigation Denied
Mitigation Requested
Release Denied
Release Requested
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
Defendant-type
Corrections
Jurisdiction-wide
General
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Conditions of confinement
Food service / nutrition / hydration
Sanitation / living conditions
Medical/Mental Health
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
Ex parte Young (federal or state officials)
State law
Defendant(s) Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction
Plaintiff Description The plaintiffs are four individuals currently incarcerated in three different prisons operated by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction ("ODRC"). The putative class consists of "all prisoners currently or who will in the future be in the custody of ODRC and housed in an ODRC prison during the COVID-19 pandemic."
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status outcome Mooted before ruling
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Filed 05/15/2020
Case Closing Year 2020
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
click to show/hide detail
  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
Court Docket(s)
S.D. Ohio
12/03/2020
2:20-cv-02471-EAS-KAJ
PC-OH-0036-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
S.D. Ohio
05/15/2020
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PC-OH-0036-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Ohio
06/19/2020
Plaintiffs' Motion and Memorandum of Law in Support of Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 13]
PC-OH-0036-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Ohio
08/03/2020
Opinion and Order [ECF# 40] (476 F.Supp.3d 635)
PC-OH-0036-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | External Link | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Jolson, Kimberly A Court not on record [Magistrate] show/hide docs
PC-OH-0036-9000
Sargus, Edmund A. Jr. (S.D. Ohio) show/hide docs
PC-OH-0036-0003 | PC-OH-0036-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Kendall, Kimberly (Ohio) show/hide docs
PC-OH-0036-0001 | PC-OH-0036-0002 | PC-OH-0036-9000
Patituce, Megan Marie (Ohio) show/hide docs
PC-OH-0036-0001 | PC-OH-0036-0002 | PC-OH-0036-9000
Patituce, Joseph C (Ohio) show/hide docs
PC-OH-0036-0001 | PC-OH-0036-0002 | PC-OH-0036-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Bradford, Tracy L (Ohio) show/hide docs
PC-OH-0036-9000
Holscher, Zachary M (Ohio) show/hide docs
PC-OH-0036-9000
Madden, Thomas E (Ohio) show/hide docs
PC-OH-0036-9000
Pfeiffer, Julie M (Ohio) show/hide docs
PC-OH-0036-9000
Schneider, Charles Allen (Ohio) show/hide docs
PC-OH-0036-9000
Turner, Byron D (Ohio) show/hide docs
PC-OH-0036-9000
Walton, Michael Allan (Ohio) show/hide docs
PC-OH-0036-9000

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -