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Case Name Weikert v. Elder JC-CO-0012
Docket / Court 1:20-cv-03646 ( 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: This putative class action was filed on December 20, 2020 by a group of medically vulnerable detainees at the El Paso County Jail in Colorado, seeking reasonable COVID-19 safety measures. The Court granted a stipulated preliminary injunction on January 4, 2021.

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COVID-19 Summary: This putative class action was filed on December 20, 2020 by a group of medically vulnerable detainees at the El Paso County Jail in Colorado, seeking reasonable COVID-19 safety measures. The Court granted a stipulated preliminary injunction on January 4, 2021.


This case is about the detainment conditions of individuals with a high vulnerability to COVID-19 within the El Paso County Jail in Colorado. On December 13, 2020, six detainees of the El Paso County Jail who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 filed this putative class action against El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado. The plaintiffs sued under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for Eighth Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment violations, as well as violations of the Colorado Constitution. The plaintiffs sought to include all current and future persons held in custody at the El Paso County Jail as class members and also sought the certification of three subclasses: (1) those held in pretrial detention; (2) those held in connection with a criminal conviction; and (3) those who were medically vulnerable with respect to COVID-19.

The plaintiffs sought injunctive relief requiring the jail to take measures to mitigate the risks of COVID-19, including: mask requirements, testing, quarantining, and medical treatment. They also sought declaratory relief that the jail's policies violated the U.S. Constitution and the Colorado Constitution. The plaintiffs argued that the lack of reasonable COVID-19 precautions in the jail amounted to a violation of the Due Process rights of the pre-trial detainees, since the lack of COVID-19 protections demonstrates deliberate indifference by the defendant and puts detainees at a serious risk of harm. The plaintiffs also argued that the disregard for the serious risks of harm to post-conviction detainees amounted to cruel and unusual punishment, in violation of the Eighth Amendment. The case was assigned to Judge Christine M. Arguello; however, Judge Arguello recused herself and the case was randomly reassigned to Judge Richard Brooke Jackson.

On December 31, 2020, the plaintiffs filed a stipulated motion for preliminary injunction. Judge Jackson granted the injunction on January 4, 2021. As a result of the preliminary injunction, the defendant was ordered to require all staff, contractors, and inmates to wear masks. The defendant also agreed to continue COVID-19 testing protocols and to require medical staff to screen and identify at-risk individuals vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19. The order also required the jail to provide inmates access to clean drinking water and for the staff to check all inmates' temperatures twice per day. For the duration of the preliminary injunction, the order provided that the jail is required to house all COVID-19 positive inmates in isolation and to ensure that such inmates are housed in a non-punitive environment with access to personal items. The jail is required to take measures to allow for social distancing of at-risk inmates and to screen COVID-19 positive inmates for symptoms and vital signs. For the duration of the injunction, the jail was required to provide plaintiff's counsel with a roster of inmates, the total number of COVID-19 positive inmates, the number of COVID tests conducted during the prior week, and the number of inmates who tested positive over the prior week. The preliminary injunction was set to expire after 90 days.

The case is ongoing as of January 20, 2021.

Nicholas Gillan - 02/05/2021


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process: Substantive Due Process
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Recordkeeping
Reporting
COVID-19
Mitigation Granted
Mitigation Requested
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Conditions of confinement
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Sheriff of El Paso County, Colorado
Plaintiff Description Six medically vulnerable inmates detained at the El Paso County Jail
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Affiliates (any)
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Pending
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Filed 12/13/2020
Case Ongoing Yes
Court Docket(s)
D. Colo.
01/22/2021
1:20-cv-03646-RBJ
JC-CO-0012-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
D. Colo.
12/13/2020
Class Action Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief [ECF# 1]
JC-CO-0012-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Colo.
12/13/2020
Motion for Temporary Restraining Order, Preliminary Injunction, and Expedited Hearing [ECF# 2]
JC-CO-0012-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Colo.
01/04/2021
Stipulated Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 25]
JC-CO-0012-0003.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Jackson, Richard Brooke (D. Colo.) show/hide docs
JC-CO-0012-0003 | JC-CO-0012-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Geiman, Rachel Z. (Colorado) show/hide docs
JC-CO-0012-9000
Herzberg, Arielle Kay (Colorado) show/hide docs
JC-CO-0012-0001 | JC-CO-0012-0002 | JC-CO-0012-9000
Hubbard, Jamie Hughes (Colorado) show/hide docs
JC-CO-0012-0001 | JC-CO-0012-0002 | JC-CO-0012-9000
Keeler, Asma Kadri (Colorado) show/hide docs
JC-CO-0012-0001 | JC-CO-0012-0002 | JC-CO-0012-9000
Kurtz, Anna I. (Colorado) show/hide docs
JC-CO-0012-0001 | JC-CO-0012-0002
Maxted, David George (Colorado) show/hide docs
JC-CO-0012-0001 | JC-CO-0012-0002 | JC-CO-0012-9000
Neel, Sara R. (Colorado) show/hide docs
JC-CO-0012-0001 | JC-CO-0012-0002 | JC-CO-0012-9000
Silverstein, Mark (Colorado) show/hide docs
JC-CO-0012-0001 | JC-CO-0012-9000
Williams, Daniel David (Colorado) show/hide docs
JC-CO-0012-0001 | JC-CO-0012-0002 | JC-CO-0012-9000
Defendant's Lawyers May, Diana Kay (Colorado) show/hide docs
JC-CO-0012-9000
Sample, Terry Angela (Colorado) show/hide docs
JC-CO-0012-9000
Whitney, Nathan James (Colorado) show/hide docs
JC-CO-0012-9000

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