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Case Name Asencio v. Federal Emergency Management Agency PB-MA-0012
Docket / Court 4:18-cv-40111-TSH ( D. Mass. )
State/Territory Massachusetts
Case Type(s) Public Benefits / Government Services
Attorney Organization LatinoJustice PRLDEF
Case Summary
On June 30, 2018, eight Hurricane Maria evacuees from Puerto Rico who were receiving Transitional Shelter Assistance from Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”) filed this putative class-action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. The case was assigned to ... read more >
On June 30, 2018, eight Hurricane Maria evacuees from Puerto Rico who were receiving Transitional Shelter Assistance from Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”) filed this putative class-action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. The case was assigned to District Judge Timothy S. Hillman.

The plaintiffs sued FEMA under the Administrative Procedures Act and the Declaratory Judgment Act. The plaintiffs, represented by LatinoJustice PRLDEF (Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund), Hector E. Pineiro, and Manatt Phelps and Phillips, LLP, sought injunctive and declaratory relief, claiming that FEMA was planning to unlawfully terminate the TSA program which provided direct funding to hotels and motels that served as shelters for Puerto Ricans who evacuated the territory due to Hurricane Maria. The plaintiffs specifically alleged that FEMA was planning to terminate its TSA program for Puerto Rican evacuees, without any plan to transition the evacuees into longer-term housing. The plaintiffs argued that this was in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment, the Administrative Procedures Act, and the Stafford Act that require nondiscrimination in disaster assistance. In their motion for a preliminary injunction, the plaintiff’s sought to extend the provision of the TSA program until all eligible individuals either received temporary housing or found permanent housing.

On June 30, 2018, the same day the complaint was filed, Judge Leo T. Sorokin entered a Temporary Restraining Order (“TRO”), enjoining FEMA from terminating the TSA program until at least midnight July 3, 2018, enabling Plaintiffs and the class to remain in transitional shelters until checkout time on July 4, 2018.

Right as the initial TRO was set to end, Judge Hillman extended it until at least midnight July 23, 2018. Judge Hillman extended the TRO to give the parties an opportunity to fully brief the important and complex issues raised by plaintiffs’ complaint and their corresponding motion for preliminary injunction.

Judge Hillman subsequently extended the TRO on two more occasions: July 19, 2018 (extending it until August 7, 2018) and on August 22, 2018 (extending it until August 31, 2018).

In plaintiffs' first amended complaint, filed on July 12, six named plaintiffs were dropped from the suit and two additional plaintiffs were added. Plaintiffs also asserted new claims for violation of their equal protection rights under the Fifth Amendment.

Presumably because the plaintiffs had already received several extensions granting them access to temporary housing, on August 30, 2018, Judge Hillman denied plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction. The Court found that the plaintiffs did not have a high likelihood of success on the merits - the touchstone of the preliminary injunction inquiry. Judge Hillman ordered the defendants to refrain from terminating the program that provided the payment for shelter for the plaintiffs (including the class) until midnight September 13, 2018, in order to give the evacuees time to make alternative housing arrangements.

On September 20, 2018, Judge Hillman granted defendants’ motion to dismiss the case entirely. The contents of this order are unavailable to us at this time. The case is now closed.

Michael Beech - 02/08/2019


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Equal Protection
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Discrimination-basis
National origin discrimination
General
Emergency shelter
National Origin/Ethnicity
Hispanic
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) Federal Emergency Management Agency ("FEMA")
Plaintiff Description Puerto Ricans who evacuated due to Hurricane Maria, and received shelter from FEMA's TSA ("Temporary Shelter Assistance") program.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations LatinoJustice PRLDEF
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Source of Relief Litigation
Order Duration 2018 - 2018
Filing Year 2018
Case Closing Year 2018
Case Ongoing No
Docket(s)
4:18-cv-40111 (D. Mass.)
PB-MA-0012-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/28/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PB-MA-0012-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/30/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Continuing Restraining Order [ECF# 19] (D. Mass.)
PB-MA-0012-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/03/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Amended Complaint [ECF# 28]
PB-MA-0012-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/12/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Second Continuation of Temporary Restraining Order [ECF# 38] (D. Mass.)
PB-MA-0012-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/19/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Memorializing the Third Continuation of Restraining Order [ECF# 63] (D. Mass.)
PB-MA-0012-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/22/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Denying Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 67] (D. Mass.)
PB-MA-0012-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/30/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Hillman, Timothy Spafard (D. Mass.) show/hide docs
PB-MA-0012-0002 | PB-MA-0012-0004 | PB-MA-0012-0005 | PB-MA-0012-0006 | PB-MA-0012-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bannan, Natasha Lycia (New York) show/hide docs
PB-MA-0012-0001 | PB-MA-0012-0003 | PB-MA-0012-9000
DeRecat, Craig J (California) show/hide docs
PB-MA-0012-0001 | PB-MA-0012-0003 | PB-MA-0012-9000
Natarelli, Brett (Illinois) show/hide docs
PB-MA-0012-0001 | PB-MA-0012-0003 | PB-MA-0012-9000
Perez, Jose-Luis (New York) show/hide docs
PB-MA-0012-0001 | PB-MA-0012-0003 | PB-MA-0012-9000
Pineiro, Hector E. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
PB-MA-0012-0001 | PB-MA-0012-0003 | PB-MA-0012-9000
Rodriguez, Justin Jones (California) show/hide docs
PB-MA-0012-0001 | PB-MA-0012-0003 | PB-MA-0012-9000
Romero-Craft, Kira (Florida) show/hide docs
PB-MA-0012-0003 | PB-MA-0012-9000
Scott, Robert A. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
PB-MA-0012-0001 | PB-MA-0012-0003 | PB-MA-0012-9000
Torres, Eve (California) show/hide docs
PB-MA-0012-0001 | PB-MA-0012-0003 | PB-MA-0012-9000
Defendant's Lawyers D'Ottavio, Kari E. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-MA-0012-9000
Farquhar, Rayford A. (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
PB-MA-0012-9000
Young, Danielle Wolfson (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-MA-0012-9000

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