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Case Name Chunn v. Edge PC-NY-0082
Docket / Court 1:20-cv-01590 ( E.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Special Collection COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Case Summary
COVID-19 Summary: Four inmates with underlying medical conditions filed a class action petition seeking habeas relief. The petitioners sought to represent a class of all current and future detainees in custody at the Metropolitan Detention Center during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. The ... read more >
COVID-19 Summary: Four inmates with underlying medical conditions filed a class action petition seeking habeas relief. The petitioners sought to represent a class of all current and future detainees in custody at the Metropolitan Detention Center during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. The court denied to grant a preliminary injunction on July 9, 2020. The case is now closed.


On March 27, 2020, four inmates filed a class action petition seeking habeas relief. Due to underlying medical conditions, each of the petitioners is particularly vulnerable to the COVID-19 disease. The petitioners, represented by private counsel and the Cardozo Civil Rights Clinic at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, sought to represent a class of all current and future detainees in custody at the Metropolitan Detention Center (“MDC”) during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. The warden of the MDC was listed as the respondent. The petitioners alleged that their continued detainment amidst the COVID-19 pandemic violated their Fifth and Eighth Amendment rights to be free from degrading and inhuman conditions of confinement. The petitioners sought immediate release of medically vulnerable MDC detainees and for the respondent to implement mitigation measures to protect those still detained. The petitioners requested a Special Master be appointed to chair a Coronavirus Release Committee to evaluate vulnerable inmates and make recommendations accordingly. The case was assigned to Judge Rachel Kovner.

The petitioners specifically alleged that the conditions of confinement made it impossible to practice recommended preventative care measures such as social distancing and frequent sanitation. They also alleged that, if an inmate were to contract COVID-19, the MDC does not have adequate medical resources to treat the disease. To support their release, they cited the U.S. Attorney General’s memo to the Director of the Bureau of Prisons at MDC directing him to prioritize the use of statutory authorities to grant home confinement for inmates seeking transfer in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.

On April 2, Judge Rachel Kovner issued an order referring the parties to Magistrate Judge Mann to explore settlement options. Judge Kovner specifically requested the parties to consider the compassionate-release provision at 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(A). A number of courts have already used that provision to grant compassionate releases because the individual's health conditions placed them at grave risk while confined during the COVID-19 epidemic. In the settlement agreements, Judge Kovner noted, the Bureau of Prisons could agree to promptly review the petitioner's release requests. In the meantime, Judge Kovner stayed the decision on the request for a temporary restraining order.

The parties engaged in negotiations over the next two days. Each plaintiff filed a request with Warden Edge seeking early release. The Warden subsequently denied the plaintiffs' requests. The plaintiffs also filed motions with their sentencing judges seeking compassionate release under 18 U.S.C. 3582(c)(1)(A); these proceedings are ongoing. Meanwhile, the plaintiffs failed additional information with the Court, including expert declarations stating that isolating and monitoring people with known risk factors is critical to mitigating their risk of death or serious illness (Declaration of Dr. Homer Venters), and that everyone who has COVID-19 symptoms must be tested to mitigate their risk (Declaration of Dr. Robert Cohen).

On April 8, Judge Kovner denied the plaintiffs' motion for a temporary order. Six days later, Judge Kovner authorized limited expedited discovery in advance of the plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction. The authorized discovery requests were limited to the protocol governing when prisoners or staff request and receive COVID-19 testing, the amount of soap received at MDC since February 1, a list of sick-call requests for medical care submitted by MDC prisoners from March 13 through April 13, a deposition from a member of MDC management, and a site inspection.

Regarding the site inspection, Judge Kovner ordered on April 15 that the site inspection was relevant to the petitioner's discovery in order to gain an understanding of the conditions there. 2020 WL 1872523. Specifically, Dr. Venters had testified earlier on the spread of COVID-19 and best practices for prevention, but an inspection would allow Dr. Venters to testify as to the conditions at MDC. The three-hour inspection was scheduled to take place on April 23, and include one housing unit not under quarantine, the intake unit, one quarantine unit, an appropriate isolation unit, the Special Housing Unit, and the Health Services Offices and Exam Rooms. Judge Kovner permitted Dr. Venters cell-front access to converse briefly with prisoners, subject to their own willingness to converse.

On April 23, the plaintiffs filed an amended class-action petition for writ of habeas corpus. The amended petition included more recent information about the spread of COVID-19.

The defendant moved to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim and for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction on April 24. In the alternative, the defendant asked for the Court to grant summary judgment. The defendant argued that two of the plaintiffs had already been mooted by their release, and the other claims were barred by res judicata. Furthermore, the defendant argued that the plaintiff had failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted because the Bureau of Prisons was taking steps to address the health risks posed by COVID-19.

As discovery began, the plaintiffs filed a motion to quash the deposition of Dr. Venters. The plaintiffs argued that the defendants were engaging in too broad of discovery requests given the expedited timeline for discovery. On April 25, Magistrate Judge Mann determined that the defendants were improperly pursuing full discovery on an expedited timeline, rather than tailoring their discovery demands to the necessities in advance of the preliminary injunction hearing. However, the Court found that it was premature to rule on the reasonableness of specific document demands or interrogatories, and therefore declined to quash the subpoena for Dr. Venters' deposition.

The plaintiffs filed a motion for preliminary injunctive relief on April 30. The motion argued that the defendants were violating the plaintiffs' Fifth and Eighth Amendment rights by continuing to incarcerate them despite their increased vulnerability to COVID-19, and sought the immediate release of elderly prisoners and prisoners with underlying health conditions. Among other relief measures, it also sought the screening of current and future detainees for COVID-19 symptoms, and daily evaluations of all prisoners suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19. The motion was supported in part by Dr. Venters' expert report which he prepared after having completed his inspection of the facility. His report detailed a lack of adequate preventative measures at the MDC, including a broken sick-call system in which prisoners' reported symptoms were not addressed.

On May 12, the Court heard arguments for the plaintiff's motion for preliminary injunction. Subsequently, each party filed their proposed findings of fact. The Court also directed the parties to confer as to sanitation policies for the duration of the proceedings.

On June 9, Judge Kovner denied the motion for preliminary injunction, stating the plaintiffs had not proved substantial likelihood of success on their claim of deliberate indifference, especially in light of the defendants' efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. 2020 WL 3055669.

On July 28, the defendants filed a letter with the court, informing Judge Kovner that the last named petitioner had been released from custody, stating that there was no longer a case or controversy before the court. Accordingly, on August 12, the court issued an order dismissing the case in light of the petitioners' notice of voluntary dismissal. This case is closed.

Justin Hill - 05/23/2020
Lily Sawyer-Kaplan - 10/25/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief denied
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Sanitation / living conditions
Medical/Mental Health
COVID-19 Mitigation Requested
COVID-19 Release Denied
COVID-19 Release Requested
Medical care, general
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Special Case Type
Habeas
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Habeas Corpus, 28 U.S.C. §§ 2241-2253; 2254; 2255
Defendant(s) Warden of the Metropolitan Detention Center
Plaintiff Description Four inmates at the Metropolitan Detention Center with underlying medical conditions.
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Pending
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Filed 03/27/2020
Case Closing Year 2020
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Docket(s)
1:20-cv-01590 (E.D.N.Y.)
PC-NY-0082-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/28/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Petition Seeking Writ of Habeas Corpus [ECF# 1]
PC-NY-0082-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/27/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
[Proposed] Temporary Restraining Order and Memorandum of Law in Support of Petitioners' Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order [ECF# 12 (& 12-1 to 12-12)]
PC-NY-0082-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/30/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Respondent's Memorandum of Law in Opposition to Petitioners' Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order [ECF# 18, 18-1, 18-2]
PC-NY-0082-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/31/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Respondent's Supplemental Memorandum of Law in Opposition to Petitioner's Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order [ECF# 22]
PC-NY-0082-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/01/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 23] (E.D.N.Y.)
PC-NY-0082-0010.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/02/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Letter to Honorable Rachel P. Kovner Regarding Status of Settlement Discussions and Enclosing Supplemental Declaration [ECF# 26 (& 26-1 to 26-6)]
PC-NY-0082-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/03/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Letter pursuant to the Court's April 5, 2020 Order by Derek Edge [ECF# 34]
PC-NY-0082-0012.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/07/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Letter Response to Government's 4/7/20 Submission [ECF# 35]
PC-NY-0082-0013.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/07/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Letter enclosing parties' proposed case management plan, setting forth respondent's position regarding discovery, respondent's request to stay discover & for entry of a briefing schedule with respect to respondent's anticipated motion to dismiss [ECF# 37, 37-1]
PC-NY-0082-0015.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/10/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Letter Response to Government's 4/10/20 Letter-Motion and Letter Providing Exhibits A and B to Letter at Dkt. 39 [ECF# 39, 40]
PC-NY-0082-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/11/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 43] (E.D.N.Y.)
PC-NY-0082-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/14/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Letter Supplementing Petitioners' Letter Request [ECF# 44, 44-1, 44-2]
PC-NY-0082-0011.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/14/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 45] (2020 WL 1872523) (E.D.N.Y.)
PC-NY-0082-0008.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 04/15/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Letter in support of respondent's proposed inspection parameters by Derek Edge [ECF# 51]
PC-NY-0082-0016.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/17/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Letter Regarding Rule 34 Inspection Parameters by Hassan Chunn, Nehemiah McBride, Ayman Rabadi, Justin Rodriguez [ECF# 52]
PC-NY-0082-0014.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/17/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 53] (E.D.N.Y.)
PC-NY-0082-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/17/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Amended Class Action Petition Seeking Writ of Habeas Corpus Under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 [ECF# 60, 60-1, 60-2]
PC-NY-0082-0017.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/23/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Notice of Motion and Memorandum of Law in Support of Respondent's Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1), 12(b)(6), or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment [ECF# 62, 62-1]
PC-NY-0082-0018.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/24/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum of Law in Support of Petitioners’ Motion for a Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 71 & 71-1 to 71-8]
PC-NY-0082-0019.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/30/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Facility Evaluation: Metropolitan Detention Center COVID-19 Response [ECF# 72-1]
PC-NY-0082-0020.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/30/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum of Law in Support of Petitioners' Motion for a Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 73]
PC-NY-0082-0021.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/01/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum of Law in Opposition to Petitioners' Motion for a Preliminary Injunction and in Opposition to Petitioners' Motion for Class Certification [ECF# 79]
PC-NY-0082-0022.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/07/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum of Law in Opposition to Respondent's Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 85]
PC-NY-0082-0023.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/08/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Reply Memorandum of Law in Further Support of Respondent's Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1), 12(b)(6), or, in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment [ECF# 88 & 88-1 to 88-3]
PC-NY-0082-0024.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/10/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Reply Memorandum of Law in Further Support of Petitioners' Motion for a Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 90]
PC-NY-0082-0025.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/11/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Supplemental Report of Dr. Homer Venters [ECF# 91-6]
PC-NY-0082-0026.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/11/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Respondent's Post-Hearing Proposed Findings of Fact [ECF# 99 & 99-1]
PC-NY-0082-0027.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/19/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Petitioners' Proposed Findings of Fact [ECF# 101]
PC-NY-0082-0028.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/20/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum and Order [ECF# 112 & 113] (2020 WL 3055669) (S.D.N.Y.)
PC-NY-0082-0029.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 06/09/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
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Judges Kovner, Rachel Peter (E.D.N.Y.) show/hide docs
PC-NY-0082-0007 | PC-NY-0082-0008 | PC-NY-0082-0009 | PC-NY-0082-0010 | PC-NY-0082-0029 | PC-NY-0082-9000
Mann, Roanne L. (E.D.N.Y.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
PC-NY-0082-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Ginsberg, Betsy R. (New York) show/hide docs
PC-NY-0082-0001 | PC-NY-0082-0004 | PC-NY-0082-0017 | PC-NY-0082-0019 | PC-NY-0082-0021 | PC-NY-0082-0023 | PC-NY-0082-0025 | PC-NY-0082-0028 | PC-NY-0082-9000
Katovich, Scout Katherine (New York) show/hide docs
PC-NY-0082-0001 | PC-NY-0082-0004 | PC-NY-0082-0017 | PC-NY-0082-0019 | PC-NY-0082-0021 | PC-NY-0082-0023 | PC-NY-0082-0025 | PC-NY-0082-0028 | PC-NY-0082-9000
Lyle, Noelle E (New York) show/hide docs
PC-NY-0082-0023 | PC-NY-0082-0025 | PC-NY-0082-0028 | PC-NY-0082-9000
Reinert, Alexander A. (New York) show/hide docs
PC-NY-0082-0001 | PC-NY-0082-0004 | PC-NY-0082-0017 | PC-NY-0082-0019 | PC-NY-0082-0021 | PC-NY-0082-0023 | PC-NY-0082-0025 | PC-NY-0082-0028 | PC-NY-0082-9000
Rosenfeld, Katherine (New York) show/hide docs
PC-NY-0082-0001 | PC-NY-0082-0002 | PC-NY-0082-0003 | PC-NY-0082-0004 | PC-NY-0082-0011 | PC-NY-0082-0013 | PC-NY-0082-0014 | PC-NY-0082-0017 | PC-NY-0082-0019 | PC-NY-0082-0021 | PC-NY-0082-0023 | PC-NY-0082-0025 | PC-NY-0082-0028 | PC-NY-0082-9000
Shapiro, Samuel (New York) show/hide docs
PC-NY-0082-0001 | PC-NY-0082-0004 | PC-NY-0082-0017 | PC-NY-0082-0019 | PC-NY-0082-0021 | PC-NY-0082-0023 | PC-NY-0082-0025 | PC-NY-0082-0028 | PC-NY-0082-9000
Shvets, Yeugenia (New York) show/hide docs
PC-NY-0082-0019 | PC-NY-0082-0021 | PC-NY-0082-0023 | PC-NY-0082-0025 | PC-NY-0082-0028 | PC-NY-0082-9000
Wilson, O. Andrew F. (New York) show/hide docs
PC-NY-0082-0001 | PC-NY-0082-0004 | PC-NY-0082-0017 | PC-NY-0082-0019 | PC-NY-0082-0021 | PC-NY-0082-0023 | PC-NY-0082-0025 | PC-NY-0082-0028 | PC-NY-0082-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Cho, James R. (New York) show/hide docs
PC-NY-0082-0005 | PC-NY-0082-0006 | PC-NY-0082-0012 | PC-NY-0082-0015 | PC-NY-0082-0016 | PC-NY-0082-0018 | PC-NY-0082-0022 | PC-NY-0082-0024 | PC-NY-0082-0027 | PC-NY-0082-9000
Donoghue, Richard P. (New York) show/hide docs
PC-NY-0082-0005 | PC-NY-0082-0006 | PC-NY-0082-0012 | PC-NY-0082-0015 | PC-NY-0082-0016 | PC-NY-0082-0018 | PC-NY-0082-0022 | PC-NY-0082-0024 | PC-NY-0082-0027
Eichenholtz, Seth D (New York) show/hide docs
PC-NY-0082-0012 | PC-NY-0082-0015 | PC-NY-0082-0016 | PC-NY-0082-0018 | PC-NY-0082-0022 | PC-NY-0082-0024 | PC-NY-0082-0027 | PC-NY-0082-9000
Marutollo, Joseph Anthony (New York) show/hide docs
PC-NY-0082-0012 | PC-NY-0082-0015 | PC-NY-0082-0016 | PC-NY-0082-0018 | PC-NY-0082-0022 | PC-NY-0082-0024 | PC-NY-0082-0027 | PC-NY-0082-9000
Stamatelos, Paulina (New York) show/hide docs
PC-NY-0082-0015 | PC-NY-0082-0016 | PC-NY-0082-0018 | PC-NY-0082-0022 | PC-NY-0082-0024 | PC-NY-0082-0027 | PC-NY-0082-9000

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