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Case Name Alvarez v. LaRose JC-CA-0147
Docket / Court 3:20-cv-00782 ( S.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Special Collection COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Attorney Organization ACLU Affiliates (any)
National Immigration Project of the NLG
Case Summary
COVID-19 Summary: This is a habeas action brought by detainees in the Otay Mesa Detention Center, seeking release due to COVID-19. The plaintiffs' request for a preliminary injunction was denied on June 7, 2020. The plaintiffs appealed, but withdrew the appeal several months later. In the meantime, ... read more >
COVID-19 Summary: This is a habeas action brought by detainees in the Otay Mesa Detention Center, seeking release due to COVID-19. The plaintiffs' request for a preliminary injunction was denied on June 7, 2020. The plaintiffs appealed, but withdrew the appeal several months later. In the meantime, the court denied the defendant's motion to dismiss and the parties began the discovery process, prior to a stay in July 2021.


On April 25, 2020 detainees held in the Otay Mesa Detention Center (OMDC) awaiting trial or sentencing in federal court brought this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. Represented by the ACLU of San Diego, the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers' Guild, and private counsel, the plaintiffs brought this action against the U.S. Marshals Service, which had contracted with a private company to run OMDC. They sued under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 (the federal habeas statute), alleged violations of their Fifth Amendment due process rights and their Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment, and sought habeas, declaratory, and injunctive relief. Specifically, the plaintiffs alleged that OMDC was unable to comply with public health guidelines and could not provide safety in light of COVID-19 without a significant reduction in population.

The case was initially assigned to Judge Anthony J. Battaglia and Magistrate Judge Bernard G. Skomal. However, the case was marked as related to Alcantara v. Archambeault (No. 20-cv-0756), a case in which civil immigration detainees challenged the conditions at OMDC. As a result, the case was reassigned to Judge Dana M. Sabraw and Magistrate Judge Allison H. Goddard on April 27.

Simultaneous with their habeas petition, the plaintiffs filed a motion for a temporary restraining order and a motion for class certification. They sought to certify various classes and subclasses, including:
  • Pretrial Class: All current and future persons in pretrial detention at OMDC;
  • Pretrial Medically Vulnerable Subclass: All current and future OMDC detainees who are aged 45 years or older or who have medical conditions that place them at heightened risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19;
  • Post-Conviction Class: All current and future persons in post-conviction detention at OMDC
  • Post-Conviction Medically Vulnerable Subclass: All current and future OMDC post-conviction detainees who are aged 45 years or older or who have medical conditions that place them at heightened risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19.
The court stayed briefing on class certification on May 1 at the defendants' request.

On May 1, the defendants submitted an order for a motion denying plaintiffs' motion for writ of habeas corpus and injunctive and declaratory relief. In a November 18, 2020 order, the Court construed the motion as one to dismiss and ordered the parties to complete briefings on the motion.

On May 9, Judge Sabraw denied the motion for a temporary restraining order under the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA). Specifically, Judge Sabraw found that the PLRA applied since the plaintiffs had challenged the conditions of their confinement rather than the fact or duration of their sentences and noted that Congress enacted the PLRA to "remove the judiciary from prison management" by preventing prisoner release unless less drastic relief had failed and a three-judge court found that no other relief would remedy the violations of the prisoners' rights. That had not happened in this case, so Judge Sabraw concluded that the plaintiffs' claims were likely to fail. 445 F. Supp. 3d 861.

A week later, the plaintiffs filed a motion for provisional class certification, seeking to certify the medically vulnerable subclasses as well as a motion for a preliminary injunction ordering the release, enlargement, and/or transfer to home confinement of those within these subclasses.

On June 7, the court denied the preliminary injunction. Judge Sabraw acknowledged that the "COVID-19 outbreak at Otay Mesa . . . remains one of the worst outbreaks among detention facilities in the nation" but reiterated that the PLRA applied and prevented the court from granting release. 2020 WL 3053193.

The plaintiffs appealed to the Ninth Circuit on August 4, 2020 (No. 20-55795), but later voluntarily dismissed the appeal on October 15.

While the appeal was pending, disagreements emerged about the scope of preliminary discovery in the district court, including whether site inspections would be allowed. Defendant's objection to plaintiffs' discovery order was overruled on March 4, 2021.

On February 8, 2021, the court issued an order denying the defendants' motion to deny the petition for writ of habeas corpus and injunctive and declaratory relief. In this order, the court held that none of the arguments put forth by the defendants, lack of subject matter jurisdiction, and failure to state a claim, warranted dismissal of the case.

On May 7, 2021, the court held an early neutral evaluation conference. The case did not settle, but the Court issued a Mediator's Proposal in the form of a draft stipulated judgment for the parties' review and consideration. A second early neutral evaluation conference was held on May 13, where additional settlement conferences were scheduled.

On July 10 the parties filed a joint motion to stay the litigation for a period of 90 days, which Judge Sabraw granted on July 16, 2021, with the stay expiring on October 14, 2021.

Caitlin Kierum - 07/10/2020
Timothy Leake - 11/16/2020
Tessa McEvoy - 09/07/2021


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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
COVID-19
Mitigation Denied
Mitigation Requested
Release Denied
Release Requested
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
Post-PLRA Population Cap
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Bathing and hygiene
Conditions of confinement
Over/Unlawful Detention
Sanitation / living conditions
Totality of conditions
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Special Case Type
Habeas
Type of Facility
Non-government for profit
Causes of Action Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Ex parte Young (federal or state officials)
Habeas Corpus, 28 U.S.C. §§ 2241-2253; 2254; 2255
Defendant(s) Otay Mesa Detention Center
US Marshals Service
Plaintiff Description Individuals detained in the Otay Mesa Detention Center awaiting trial or sentencing on behalf of all similarly situated persons.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Affiliates (any)
National Immigration Project of the NLG
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status outcome 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 04/25/2020
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  Alvarez v. La Rose: Otay Mesa Detention Center
National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild
Date: Sep. 22, 2020
By: National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
S.D. Cal.
07/16/2021
3:20-cv-00756-DMS-AHG
JC-CA-0147-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
S.D. Cal.
04/25/2020
Complaint - Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus and Injunctive and Declaratory Relief [ECF# 1]
JC-CA-0147-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: Public.Resource.Org
S.D. Cal.
04/25/2020
Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support of Plaintiff-Petitioners' Ex Parte Application for Temporary Restraining Order and Order to Show Cause for Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 2-2]
JC-CA-0147-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: Public.Resource.Org
S.D. Cal.
04/25/2020
Plaintiff-Petitioners' Notice of Motion and Motion for Class Certification [ECF# 3 (& 3-1 to 3-5)]
JC-CA-0147-0003.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Cal.
04/29/2020
Respondents' Emergency Motion to Stay Briefing on Petitioner's Motion for Class Certification or, in the Alternative, Motion for Extension of Time to Respond [ECF# 22]
JC-CA-0147-0004.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Cal.
04/30/2020
Plaintiff-Petitioners' Response to Defendant Respondents' Emergency Motion to Stay Briefing on Class Certification or, in the Alternative, Motion for Extension of Time to Respond [ECF# 28]
JC-CA-0147-0005.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Cal.
05/01/2020
Respondents' Response in Opposition to Motion for Emergency Temporary Restraining Order, and for Class-Wide Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 29 (& 29-1 to 29-3)]
JC-CA-0147-0006.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Cal.
05/01/2020
Respondents' Response in Opposition to Motion for Class Certification [ECF# 30, 30-1]
JC-CA-0147-0007.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Cal.
05/01/2020
Respondents' Motion to Deny Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus and Injunctive and Declaratory Relief [ECF# 31 (& 31-1 to 31-3)]
JC-CA-0147-0008.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Cal.
05/01/2020
Order Granting Motion to Stay Briefing on Class Certification [ECF# 32]
JC-CA-0147-0009.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Cal.
05/04/2020
Plaintiff-Petitioners' First Response to Defendant Respondents' Motion to Deny Petition for Habeas Corpus and Injunctive and Declaratory Relief [ECF# 37 (& 37-1 to 37-12)]
JC-CA-0147-0010.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Cal.
05/09/2020
Order Denying Motion for Temporary Restraining Order [ECF# 46] (445 F.Supp.3d 861)
JC-CA-0147-0011.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Cal.
05/11/2020
Ex Parte Application for Correction to May 9, 2020 Order [Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(a)] [ECF# 48]
JC-CA-0147-0012.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Cal.
05/12/2020
Plaintiff-Petitioners' Opposition to Respondents' Ex Parte Application for Correction to May 9, 2020 Order [ECF# 56]
JC-CA-0147-0013.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Cal.
05/12/2020
Order Correcting May 9, 2020 Order [ECF# 57]
JC-CA-0147-0014.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Cal.
05/12/2020
Amended Order Denying Motion for Temporary Restraining Order [ECF# 58] (2020 WL 3053646)
JC-CA-0147-0015.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Cal.
05/15/2020
Plaintiff-Petitioners' Notice of Motion and Motion for Preliminary Injunction and Provisional Class Certification [ECF# 61 (& 61-1 to 61-5)]
JC-CA-0147-0016.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Cal.
05/22/2020
Respondents' Response in Opposition to Motion for Preliminary Injunction and Provisional Class Certification [ECF# 68, 68-1]
JC-CA-0147-0017.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Cal.
05/26/2020
Order Requiring Response [ECF# 69]
JC-CA-0147-0018.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Cal.
05/27/2020
Reply in Support of Plaintiff-Petitioners' Motion for Preliminary Injunction and Provisional Class Certification [ECF# 70]
JC-CA-0147-0019.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Cal.
06/07/2020
Order Denying Motion for Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 81] (2020 WL 3053193)
JC-CA-0147-0020.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Cal.
02/08/2021
Order Denying Defendants' Motion to Deny Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus and Injunctive and Declaratory Relief [ECF# 141]
JC-CA-0147-0021.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Cal.
03/04/2021
Order Overruling Defendants' Objection to Discovery Order [ECF# 148]
JC-CA-0147-0022.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
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Struck, Daniel Patrick (Arizona) show/hide docs
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