University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Bentick v. Decker IM-NJ-0013
Docket / Court 2:20-cv-03679 ( D.N.J. )
Additional Docket(s) 1:20-cv- 02759  [ 20-2759 ]  Southern District of NY (U.S.)
State/Territory New Jersey
Case Type(s) Immigration and/or the Border
Special Collection COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Case Summary
This is a case about whether or not individuals detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) should be released due to safety concerns related to the COVID-19 Pandemic. On April 2, 2020, the plaintiffs - a group of persons detained in Bergen and Hudson County Correctional Facilities, ... read more >
This is a case about whether or not individuals detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) should be released due to safety concerns related to the COVID-19 Pandemic. On April 2, 2020, the plaintiffs - a group of persons detained in Bergen and Hudson County Correctional Facilities, located in Kearny and Hackensack, New Jersey, some of whom tested positive for the COVID-19 virus - filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus. Initially filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, the case was transferred to the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey two days after the suit began. The plaintiffs sued ICE on the grounds that conditions in detention centers, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, violated their Fifth Amendment due process rights. Represented by public defense legal services, the plaintiffs sought injunctive relief and attorney fees due to the health risks imposed by their imprisonment. Judge John Michael Vazquez was assigned the case.

On April 12, 2020, the plaintiffs moved for an order to show cause for preliminary injunction and a temporary restraining order.

On April 30, 2020, Judge Vazquez denied without prejudice as moot several of the plaintiffs’ motions for a temporary restraining order, due to their release by the Department of Homeland Security and ICE. The remaining plaintiffs’ motions for a temporary restraining order were also denied without prejudice pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 65, as Judge Vazquez cited a low likelihood of success on the merits of their claims. First, Judge Vazquez held that the efforts made by ICE in response to the COVID-19 pandemic were satisfactory to render the facilities’ conditions generally constitutional. Next, since it was important to recognize unique circumstances with regards to any given detainee, Judge Vazquez stipulated that a more appropriate question would be whether or not adequate care was provided to individuals that did contract the virus. Finally, Judge Vazquez held that the plaintiffs’ complaint did not match the relief sought, noting that the plaintiffs were seeking release rather than improved conditions in the detention facilities.

Following the denial of the motion for a temporary restraining order, the case was severed into individual actions for each of the plaintiffs, with the first-named plaintiff remaining as the only plaintiff in the original case.

On May 19, 2020, Judge Vazquez dismissed the case without prejudice. The Clearinghouse does not have access to the order stipulating the case’s dismissal. The case is now closed.

Matthew Weiner - 09/26/2021


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Due Process: Substantive Due Process
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief denied
COVID-19
Mitigation Denied
Mitigation Requested
Release Denied
Release Requested
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Conditions of confinement
Habeas Corpus
Placement in detention facilities
Sanitation / living conditions
Totality of conditions
Immigration/Border
Detention - conditions
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Special Case Type
Habeas
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Ex parte Young (federal or state officials)
Habeas Corpus, 28 U.S.C. §§ 2241-2253; 2254; 2255
Defendant(s) DHS/ICE
Plaintiff Description A group of immigrant individuals detained by DHS/ICE who were in correctional facilities in New Jersey during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Class action status sought No
Class action status outcome Not sought
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Filed 04/02/2020
Case Closing Year 2020
Case Ongoing No
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)
D.N.J.
05/19/2020
2:20-cv-03679-JMV
IM-NJ-0013-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
D.N.J.
04/30/2020
Opinion [ECF# 34]
IM-NJ-0013-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
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Judges Vazquez, John Michael (D.N.J.) show/hide docs
IM-NJ-0013-0001 | IM-NJ-0013-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Taj, Nabila J (New York) show/hide docs
IM-NJ-0013-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Dharia, Kruti D. (New Jersey) show/hide docs
IM-NJ-0013-9000
Pascal, Elizabeth Ann (New Jersey) show/hide docs
IM-NJ-0013-9000

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