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Case Name Doe v. Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center Commission IM-VA-0006
Docket / Court 5:17-cv-00097 ( W.D. Va. )
State/Territory Virginia
Case Type(s) Immigration and/or the Border
Attorney Organization Washington Lawyers' Committee
Case Summary
On October 4, 2017, a teenage unaccompanied minor in immigration detention (“Doe 1”) filed this class-action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, challenging the conditions of his confinement. Represented by the Washington Lawyers’ ... read more >
On October 4, 2017, a teenage unaccompanied minor in immigration detention (“Doe 1”) filed this class-action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, challenging the conditions of his confinement. Represented by the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs and by private counsel, he sued the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center Commission. The Commission operated the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center, where he was detained in “brutal and inhumane conditions” which “shocked the conscience.” The plaintiff had fled to the United States to seek asylum after experiencing domestic abuse and other violence in Mexico. He claimed that his prolonged detention at various U.S. facilities had exacerbated his trauma, leading to self-harm involving cutting his wrists and banging his head against the wall and floor. Shenandoah Valley staff had responded with “callous indifference.”

Doe 1 claimed that he and other Mexican and Central American unaccompanied immigrant minors at the facility were subject to violence by staff; abusive and excessive use of seclusion and restraints; and denial of adequate mental health care in spite of their suicidality. He sought class certification for all similarly-situated minors who were or would be detained at the same facility. He claimed that facility staff treated the Latino immigrant detainees (who were held for civil immigration offenses) more harshly than white criminal detainees. He alleged that the staff’s deliberate indifference, as well as discrimination based on race and national origin, violated the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. He sought injunctive relief and a declaration that Shenandoah Valley’s practices were unconstitutional.

The case was assigned to Judge Elizabeth K. Dillon. In an amended complaint dated January 31, 2018, Doe 1 stated that in December, he had been transferred to another facility in Virginia, but remained in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement and could be transferred back to Shendandoah Valley at any time. His amended complaint also added two additional plaintiffs detained at Shenandoah Valley (“Doe 2” and “Doe 3”).

The plaintiffs moved for a preliminary injunction on February 28, 2018, asking the Court to enjoin Shenandoah Valley from imposing excessive or injurious discipline on them, either by physical force or by denial of adequate mental health treatment. They asserted that their behavioral issues in detention were provoked (by abusive treatment from staff), or were manifestations of untreated mental health problems.

On June 27, 2018, the court certified the following class:: “Latino unaccompanied alien children (UACs) who are currently detained or will be detained in the future at Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center who either: (i) have been, are, or will be subject to the disciplinary policies and practices used by [Shenandoah Valley] staff; or (ii) have needed, currently need, or will in the future need care and treatment for mental health problems while detained at [Shenandoah Valley].”

The plaintiffs filed a second amended complaint on July 11, 2018, adding a fourth plaintiff (“Doe 4”). In August 2018, the plaintiffs, without explanation, withdrew their motion for preliminary injunction. On October 4, 2017, the court granted the plaintiffs’ motion to appoint Doe 4 class representative in place of Doe 1, who no longer wished to proceed with this case (for reasons not stated in court filings). Doe 2 and Doe 3, who had been deported to their countries of origin, were dismissed as plaintiffs.

On December 13, 2018, the court granted partial summary judgment to Shenandoah Valley: while allowing the excessive force claim, the excessive confinement claim, and the excessive use of isolation claim, the court ruled in favor of the facility on the inadequate medical care claim. 355 F. Supp. 3d 454. The court noted that while the plaintiffs wanted the facility to implement a best practice approach regarding mental health care, the constitutional standard was lower. It found that the facility had satisfied the constitutional requirements: it had provided bilingual case managers and mental health clinicians to each detainee, had arranged for Doe 4 to meet with a clinician once a week, and had made reasonable attempts to have him transferred to a residential facility to treat his post-traumatic stress disorder.

Following the summary judgment ruling, the plaintiffs and the defendant came to an agreement: the plaintiffs would try to find a “Doe 5” plaintiff that could represent the class on the inadequate medical care claim. If they found such a plaintiff, the litigation would continue; if they couldn’t find a suitable class representative, they would dismiss their remaining claims, but would retain their right to appeal the summary judgment ruling as to Doe 4.

On March 19, 2019, having found no suitable class representative, the plaintiffs moved to dismiss their remaining claims. After a fairness hearing on July 16, the court granted the motion to dismiss on July 23, 2019. This order dismissed the plaintiffs’ claims “alleging Defendant’s use of excessive force, excessive imposition of restraints and excessive use of solitary confinement,” and entered judgment for the defendant with respect o the plaintiffs’ “claims alleging Defendant’s failure to provide the Plaintiff Class with constitutionally-adequate mental health treatment.” As previously agreed with the defendant, the plaintiffs appealed this ruling on August 21, 2019 (Fourth Circuit Docket Number 19-1910). As of July 28, 2020, that appeal is pending.

Ava Morgenstern - 05/05/2018
Virginia Weeks - 08/26/2018
Veronica Portillo Heap - 02/25/2019
Bogyung Lim - 07/28/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Equal Protection
Defendant-type
Corrections
Law-enforcement
Discrimination-basis
Immigration status
National origin discrimination
Race discrimination
General
Assault/abuse by staff
Bathing and hygiene
Conditions of confinement
Confinement/isolation
Counseling
Disciplinary procedures
Disciplinary segregation
Disparate Treatment
Excessive force
Food service / nutrition / hydration
Juveniles
Language/ethnic/minority needs
Pattern or Practice
Personal injury
Recreation / Exercise
Restraints : physical
Sanitation / living conditions
Solitary confinement/Supermax (conditions or process)
Suicide prevention
Immigration/Border
Constitutional rights
Detention - conditions
Refugees
Undocumented immigrants - rights and duties
Medical/Mental Health
Mental health care, general
Self-injurious behaviors
Suicide prevention
National Origin/Ethnicity
Hispanic
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
Defendant(s) Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center Commission
Plaintiff Description Class of juvenile minors held at a detention facility for unaccompanied immigrant minors
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Washington Lawyers' Committee
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Filed 10/04/2017
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Wiley Rein and Washington Lawyers' Committee File Fifth Amendment Complaint on Behalf of Immigrants Detained in Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center
www.washlaw.org
Date: Oct. 4, 2017
By: Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Wiley Rein and Washington Lawyers’ Committee File Fifth Amendment Complaint on Behalf of Immigrants Detained in Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center
www.wileyrein.com
Date: Oct. 4, 2017
By: Wiley Rein LLP
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
5:17−cv−00097−EKD (W.D. Va.)
IM-VA-0006-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/28/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint [ECF# 1]
IM-VA-0006-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/04/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Amended Class Action Complaint [ECF# 17]
IM-VA-0006-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/31/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum of Law in Support of Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 34]
IM-VA-0006-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/28/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Reply Memorandum of Law in Support of Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 50]
IM-VA-0006-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/04/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Certifying Class [ECF# 63] (2020 WL 10593355) (W.D. Va.)
IM-VA-0006-0005.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 06/27/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Second Amended Class Action Complaint [ECF# 68]
IM-VA-0006-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/11/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion [ECF# 173] (108 Fed.R.Serv.3d 186) (W.D. Va.)
IM-VA-0006-0007.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 12/13/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Dillon, Elizabeth Kay (W.D. Va.) show/hide docs
IM-VA-0006-0005 | IM-VA-0006-0007 | IM-VA-0006-9000
Hoppe, Joel C. Court not on record [Magistrate] show/hide docs
IM-VA-0006-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Dinan, Christine Tschiderer (New York) show/hide docs
IM-VA-0006-0001 | IM-VA-0006-0002 | IM-VA-0006-0003 | IM-VA-0006-0004 | IM-VA-0006-9000
Eggert, Benjamin Cairns (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-VA-0006-9000
Frazee, James Ryan (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-VA-0006-9000
Howard, Theodore Augustus (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-VA-0006-0002 | IM-VA-0006-0003 | IM-VA-0006-0004 | IM-VA-0006-0006 | IM-VA-0006-9000
Lieberman, Hannah E. M. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-VA-0006-0002 | IM-VA-0006-0003 | IM-VA-0006-0004 | IM-VA-0006-0006 | IM-VA-0006-9000
Missova, Mirela (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-VA-0006-9000
Tobias, Bradley C. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-VA-0006-0002 | IM-VA-0006-0003 | IM-VA-0006-0004 | IM-VA-0006-0006 | IM-VA-0006-9000
Yang, Tiffany S. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
IM-VA-0006-0006 | IM-VA-0006-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Botkins, Jason (Virginia) show/hide docs
IM-VA-0006-9000
Haynes, Meredith M. (Virginia) show/hide docs
IM-VA-0006-9000
Johnson, Harold E. (Virginia) show/hide docs
IM-VA-0006-9000
Michelsen, Melisa G. (Virginia) show/hide docs
IM-VA-0006-9000

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