University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
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 (Doe 1) in immigration detention filed this class-action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia under the federal civil rights statute 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in which he challenged the conditions of his confinement ... read more >
On October 4, 2017, a teenage unaccompanied minor (Doe 1) in immigration detention filed this class-action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia under the federal civil rights statute 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in which he challenged the conditions of his confinement. Represented by the Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs as well as private counsel, he sued the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center (SVJC) Commission in Virginia which operated the SVJC facility where he was detained in "brutal and inhumane conditions" which "shocked the conscience." Plaintiff had fled to the U.S. 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, which he said that facility staff responded to with “callous indifference.”

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

The case was assigned to Judge Elizabeth K. Dillon. Doe 1 filed his first amended complaint on January 31 which stated that in December, plaintiff had been transferred to another Virginia facility but remained in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) and could be transferred back to SVJC at any time. The amended complaint also added two pseudonymous plaintiffs detained at SVJC (Does 2 and 3).

Plaintiffs moved for a preliminary injunction on February 28, asking the Court to enjoin defendants from imposing excessive and injurious discipline and punishment upon them by physical force and denial of adequate mental health treatment. They asserted that the harsh discipline imposed for behavioral issues was either provoked by the abusive treatment they received or were manifestations of mental health problems for which little treatment was provided.

On June 27, 2018, the court granted class certification for 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 SVJC staff; or (ii) have needed, currently need, or will in the future need care and treatment for mental health problems while detained at SVJC."

The plaintiffs filed a second amended complaint on July 11, 2018, adding a fourth pseudonymous plaintiff (Doe 4). In August 2018, the plaintiffs withdrew their motion for preliminary injunction; the reasons for this are unknown. On October 4, 2017, Judge Dillon granted the plaintiff’s motion to make Doe 4 the class representative in place of Doe 1, who no longer wished to proceed with this case (for reasons not stated in court filings) and Does 2 and 3, who had been deported to their native countries as a result of immigration court proceedings.

On October 22, 2018, SVJC moved for summary judgment which the plaintiffs opposed. The parties filed cross motions regarding discovery disputes centering on the depositions of their expert witnesses. The dispute culminated in the defendant’s request that the court sanction plaintiff’s counsel by excluding a supplemental expert report that was not disclosed within court-ordered timelines.

On December 13, 2018, Judge Dillon granted summary judgment to the defendants on Doe 4’s claim regarding inadequate medical care, but ruled that the excessive force and room confinement claims could go forward because their key facts were disputed. She noted that while the plaintiffs wanted a best practice approach regarding mental health care, the constitutional standard was lower. She found that SVJC had satisfied it: they provided bilingual case managers and mental health clinicians to each child, Doe 4 had met with a clinician once a week, and the SJVC made reasonable attempts to have him transferred to a residential facility to treat his post-traumatic stress disorder. In the same opinion, she denied the defendant’s motion for sanctions without explanation.

Judge Dillon subsequently postponed and then cancelled a trial date. On February 11, 2019, the plaintiffs moved to voluntarily dismiss some of their claims and the defendants responded. As of February 25, 2019, this motion is awaiting adjudication.

This case is ongoing.

Ava Morgenstern - 05/05/2018
Virginia Weeks - 08/26/2018
Veronica Portillo Heap - 02/25/2019


compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Equal Protection
Defendant-type
Corrections
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
Personal injury
Recreation / Exercise
Restraints : physical
Sanitation / living conditions
Solitary confinement/Supermax (conditions or process)
Suicide prevention
Immigration/Border
Constitutional rights
Detention - conditions
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 None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filing Year 2017
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
click to show/hide detail
  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: 02/19/2019
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] (W.D. Va.)
IM-VA-0006-0005.pdf | 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 (District of Columbia) 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. (California) show/hide docs
IM-VA-0006-9000
Michelsen, Melisa G. (Virginia) show/hide docs
IM-VA-0006-9000

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -