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Case Name Menocal v. The GEO Group, Inc. IM-CO-0009
Docket / Court 1:14-cv-02887-JLK ( D. Colo. )
State/Territory Colorado
Case Type(s) Immigration and/or the Border
Special Collection Post-WalMart decisions on class certification
Private Employment Class Actions
Case Summary
On October 22, 2014, current and former civil immigration detainees housed at the Aurora Detention Facility filed this class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado. The plaintiffs sued The GEO Group, Inc., a private company that provides detention and correction ... read more >
On October 22, 2014, current and former civil immigration detainees housed at the Aurora Detention Facility filed this class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado. The plaintiffs sued The GEO Group, Inc., a private company that provides detention and correction services under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) 18 U.S.C. § 1589, and state law. The plaintiffs, represented by several public interest law firms, sought monetary damages. The plaintiffs alleged that GEO violated Colorado's Minimum Wage Order (CMWO) when the company paid its detained employees a dollar a day for their labor and violated 18 U.S.C. § 1589 by forcing the detainees to clean the "pods" where they were housed without compensation. They further alleged that GEO threatened to put those who refused to work (for no pay) in "the hole" (solitary confinement). The case was assigned to Magistrate Judge Craig B. Shaffer. On November 14, 2014, the case was re-assigned to Senior U.S. District Judge John L. Kane.

On November 14, 2014, GEO filed a motion to dismiss all three claims.

On July 6, 2015, Judge Kane dismissed the CMWO claim but not the federal forced labor/unjust enrichment claims. 113 F.Supp.3d 1125. The CMWO applied to employers and employees in four industries: (1) Retail and Service; (2) Commercial Support Service; (3) Food and Beverage; and (4) Health and Medical. 7 Colo. Code Regs. 1103-1:1. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendant was a "Health and Medical" employer, a "Food and Beverage" employer, and a "Retail and Service" employer. Although it was not necessary to reach the question of whether the defendant was an "employer" under the CMWO, Judge Kane concluded that the plaintiffs were not employees. Because enforcing Colorado's minimum wage laws was consistent with the purpose and the text of the Service Contract Act ("SCA"), Judge Kane decided that the SCA did not preempt the plaintiff's claim under the Colorado Minimum Wage Order. Also, Judge Kane did not dismiss the plaintiffs' unjust enrichment claim. Although the claim appeared to be largely based on the plaintiffs' CMWO claim, and therefore the plaintiffs would have had an adequate remedy at law, the CMWO claim was dismissed and not available. The plaintiffs were permitted to plead in the alternative. 113 F.Supp.3d 1125 (D. Colo. 2015).

On March 17, 2016, Judge Kane denied the defendant's motion for interlocutory appeal with respect to the plaintiffs' TVPA claim because the defendant did not identify any split in authority or any cases conflicting with the application of the statute by Judge Kane. Judge Kane denied the defendant's motion for interlocutory appeal with respect to the plaintiffs' unjust enrichment claim as the defendant raised this issue for the first time in its motion for reconsideration. Judge Kane denied the defendant's motion for interlocutory appeal with respect to the defendant's government contractor defense. Judge Kane also denied the request for a stay pending appeal as moot.

On May 6, 2016, the plaintiffs moved for class certification (2016 WL 2727839), which was granted on February 27, 2017. 320 F.R.D. 258. The classes were certified as follows: 1. all persons detained in defendant's aurora detention facility in the ten years prior to the filing of this action (for TVPA's forced labor claim); 2. all people who performed work defendant's aurora detention facility under defendant's voluntary work program "VWP" policy in the three years prior to the filing of this action (unjust enrichment claim).

On March 13, 2017, the defendant filed a petition for permission to appeal the District Court's grant of class certification. After the Tenth Circuit granted this petition, the defendant filed an interlocutory appeal on April 14, 2017 (case number 17-1125).

In the appellate court, on August 11, 2017, several immigrant rights and civil rights groups (including the Southern Poverty Law Center, Public Citizen, Inc., National Employment Law Project, American Immigrants for Justice, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Detention Watch Network, Human Rights Defense Center, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Justice Strategies, Legal Aid at Work, National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, National Guestworker Alliance, National Immigrant Justice Center, National Immigration Law Center and Pangea Legal Services among others) filed amicus curiae briefs.

On November 15, 2017, the appeal was argued in front of Circuit Judges Matheson, Bacharach and McHugh.

On February 9, 2018, the Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court certification of both classes. 882 F.3d 905 (10th Cir. 2018). The Appellate Court held that the lower court reasonably determined that the class members could show causation through class-wide inference and that individual damage assessments would not predominate over the class's common issues. The defendant asked for re-hearing but the 10th circuit denied the request on March 5, 2018.

Back in district court, on February 12, 2018, District Judge Kane referred the case to Magistrate Judge Michael E. Hegarty for settlement proceedings.

This case is ongoing.

Rebecca Eisenbrey - 02/03/2015
Allison Hight - 11/06/2015
Gloria Han - 05/29/2017
Joanna Kuzdra - 04/06/2018


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Administrative segregation
Conditions of confinement
Confinement/isolation
Disciplinary procedures
Disciplinary segregation
Over/Unlawful Detention
Placement in detention facilities
Solitary confinement/Supermax (conditions or process)
Immigration/Border
Detention - conditions
Employment
Undocumented immigrants - rights and duties
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Non-government for profit
Causes of Action State law
Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), 18 U.S.C. § 1589
Defendant(s) The GEO Group, Inc.
Plaintiff Description Current and former civil immigration detainees who were incarcerated and employed by the GEO Group, Inc., a for-profit, multinational corporation engaged in the business of incarceration.
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Case Ongoing Yes
Docket(s)
1:2014-cv-02887 (D. Colo.)
IM-CO-0009-9001.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/16/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
IM-CO-0009-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/22/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Order [ECF# 23] (113 F.Supp.3d 1125) (D. Colo.)
IM-CO-0009-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 07/06/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order on Motion for Interlocutory Appeal [ECF# 48] (D. Colo.)
IM-CO-0009-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/17/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting Motion for Class Certification and Appointment of Class Counsel [ECF# 57] (2017 WL 880882) (D. Colo.)
IM-CO-0009-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 02/27/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion [USCA 10th Circuit] [Ct. of App. ECF# 114] (882 F.3d 905)
IM-CO-0009-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 02/09/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Bacharach, Robert Edwin (W.D. Okla., Tenth Circuit)
IM-CO-0009-0005
Hegarty, Michael E. (D. Colo.) [Magistrate]
IM-CO-0009-9001
Kane, John L. Jr. (D. Colo.)
IM-CO-0009-0002 | IM-CO-0009-0003 | IM-CO-0009-0004 | IM-CO-0009-9001
Matheson, Scott Milne Jr. (Tenth Circuit)
IM-CO-0009-0005
McHugh, Carolyn Baldwin (Tenth Circuit)
IM-CO-0009-0005
Plaintiff's Lawyers Boothby, Ashley Kathryn (Colorado)
IM-CO-0009-9001
Dempsey, Rachel Williams (California)
IM-CO-0009-9001
Free, R. Andrew (Tennessee)
IM-CO-0009-0001 | IM-CO-0009-9001
Hood, Alexander Neville (Colorado)
IM-CO-0009-0001 | IM-CO-0009-9001
Lopez, P. David (District of Columbia)
IM-CO-0009-9001
Meyer, Hans Christopher (Colorado)
IM-CO-0009-0001 | IM-CO-0009-9001
Miazad, Ossai (New York)
IM-CO-0009-9001
Milstein, Brandt Powers (Colorado)
IM-CO-0009-0001 | IM-CO-0009-9001
Seligman, David Hollis (Colorado)
IM-CO-0009-9001
Stork, Elizabeth V. (New York)
IM-CO-0009-9001
Turner, Andrew Hess (Colorado)
IM-CO-0009-0001 | IM-CO-0009-9001
Defendant's Lawyers Deacon, Charles A (Texas)
IM-CO-0009-9001
DeMuro, David R. (Colorado)
IM-CO-0009-9001
Eismeier, Dana L. (Colorado)
IM-CO-0009-9001
Emery, Mark Thomas (District of Columbia)
IM-CO-0009-9001
Felton, Shelby Anne (Colorado)
IM-CO-0009-9001
Ley, Michael York (Colorado)
IM-CO-0009-9001
Schuessler, Erik Karl (Colorado)
IM-CO-0009-9001

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