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Case Name Gonzalez v. CoreCivic, Inc. IM-CA-0154
Docket / Court 17-CV-02573 ( S.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Immigration and/or the Border
Special Collection Immigrant Detention Labor Issues
Case Summary
On December 27, 2017, five detainees in California's Otay Mesa Detention Center ("the Facility"), a for-profit civil immigration detention facility, filed this class-action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. The plaintiffs sued CoreCivic, a multibillion- ... read more >
On December 27, 2017, five detainees in California's Otay Mesa Detention Center ("the Facility"), a for-profit civil immigration detention facility, filed this class-action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. The plaintiffs sued CoreCivic, a multibillion-dollar corporation that owns and operates civil detention facilities across the United States, under the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act and California state law, including California's Minimum Wage and Unjust Enrichment laws. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel and Al Otro Lado, sought class-action certification, declaratory and injunctive relief, and monetary damages. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendant used the "free and nearly-free" labor of civil immigrant detainees to operate the facility and provide the essential services it was contractually required to provide. The plaintiffs claimed that this was forced labor and that the defendant maintained a corporate policy to withhold essential care and services to "ensure a ready supply of available labor needed to operate the Facility." The plaintiffs contended that this policy resulted in detainees performing labor, often for no more than $1.50 an hour, to buy basic necessities that were not provided by defendant, including food, water, and warm clothing. The plaintiffs alleged that if detainees did not participate in this labor scheme defendant would threaten to place them in solitary confinement and or report their actions to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The plaintiffs asserted that this practice of forced labor resulted in an economic windfall for defendant, as its costs of operating detention facilities were greatly reduced.

The plaintiffs sought to certify four classes:

(1) The Work Program Class: All civil immigration detainees who performed work for defendant at the Facility in the Work Program within the past ten years.

(2) The Unlawful Inducement Class: All civil immigration detainees held at the Otay Mesa Facility within the past ten years who performed work for no compensation outside of their pods.

(3) The Injured Worker Class: All civil immigration detainees held at the Facility within the past ten years who were injured while performing work through defendant's Work Program and denied access to California’s Worker’s Compensation benefits.

(4) The Unpaid Cleaner Class: All civil immigration detainees held at the Facility who performed labor within their pods within the past ten years under threat of solitary confinement, and/or in exchange for basic necessities.

The case was assigned to District Judge Anthony Battaglia and Magistrate Judge Nita L. Stormes.

On January 2, 2018, the plaintiffs provided notice of a related case. The plaintiffs related this case with Owino v. CoreCivic, Inc., "because both actions involve common legal bases, similar legal claims, and an identical defendant."

On January 5, 2018, this case was transferred to Judge Janis L. Sammartino to have the related cases assigned to the same judge. The related cases were not consolidated; pleadings were to be filed separately in each case.

The plaintiffs sought to consolidate this action with the Owino case on January 22, 2018, claiming that "such consolidation will assist in the litigation, and appointment of lead counsel as proposed is in the best interests of the parties and will expedite the litigation." In addition to consolidation, the plaintiffs sought to assert themselves as interim lead class counsel in the event of a consolidated action.

On February 23, 2018, the plaintiffs in the Owino case filed a motion for intervention, for the purpose of opposing the Gonzalez plaintiffs' motion to consolidate. The Owino plaintiffs argued that because the Gonzalez plaintiffs have different legal theories and objectives, consolidation of the cases would impair the Owino plaintiffs' ability to protect their interests. Furthermore, the Owino plaintiffs asserted that the Gonzalez plaintiffs would not adequately protect their interests in a consolidated action. Lastly, the Owino plaintiffs argued that the Gonzalez case should be dismissed because the case is duplicative. The court granted the motion to intervene on March 23, 2018.

On April 4, 2018, Judge Sammartino issued an order denying consolidation and staying the case. Judge Sammartino concluded that the Gonzalez case is duplicative, as both cases arise from the same "transaction nucleus of fact;" both cases bring similar causes of actions and request similar relief and are based on similar factual allegations. However, Judge Sammartino declined to dismiss the Gonzalez case, despite the fact that these are "two nearly identical putative class actions", given the early stage of the Owino case and that its class has not been certified.

The case appears to be dormant while resolution is pending in Owino; there has been no activity in this case since August 2018.

Aaron Gurley - 02/28/2020

compress summary

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Conditions of confinement
Forced labor
Pattern or Practice
Totality of conditions
Detention - conditions
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) CoreCivic, Inc.
Plaintiff Description Civil immigration detainees in California's Otay Mesa Detention Center
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
Source of Relief None
Filed 12/27/2017
Case Ongoing Yes
Case Listing IM-CA-0148 : Owino v. CoreCivic, Inc. (S.D. Cal.)
Additional Resources
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Court Docket(s)
S.D. Cal.
IM-CA-0154-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
S.D. Cal.
Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief and Damages [ECF# 1]
IM-CA-0154-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Cal.
Order: (1) Denying Motion to Consolidate; and (2) Staying Case [ECF# 44] (2018 WL 1621543)
IM-CA-0154-0002.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Sammartino, Janis Lynn (S.D. Cal.) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0154-0002 | IM-CA-0154-9000
Stormes, Nita L. (S.D. Cal.) show/hide docs
Plaintiff's Lawyers Ahdoot, Robert R. (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0154-0001 | IM-CA-0154-9000
Burns, Warren T. (Texas) show/hide docs
Charest, Daniel H. (Texas) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0154-0001 | IM-CA-0154-9000
Fox, Nicholas J. (California) show/hide docs
Freda, Matthew Robert (Tennessee) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0154-0001 | IM-CA-0154-9000
Free, Robert Andrew (Tennessee) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0154-0001 | IM-CA-0154-9000
Nelson, Korey Arthur (Louisiana) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0154-0001 | IM-CA-0154-9000
Ramos, Nicole Elizabeth (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0154-0001 | IM-CA-0154-9000
Ridley, Eileen Regina (California) show/hide docs
Shakib, Vanessa Tamara (California) show/hide docs
Teel, Robert (Washington) show/hide docs
Thompson, William B. (Texas) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0154-0001 | IM-CA-0154-9000
Wolfson, Tina (California) show/hide docs
Wright, Lydia (Louisiana) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0154-0001 | IM-CA-0154-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Acedo, Nicholas Daniel (Arizona) show/hide docs
Hesman, Ashlee (Arizona) show/hide docs
Lee, Jacob B. (Arizona) show/hide docs
Love, Rachel (Arizona) show/hide docs
Nelson, Ethan H. (California) show/hide docs
Struck, Daniel Patrick (Arizona) show/hide docs

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