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Case Name Mays v. Thomas JC-IL-0054
Docket / Court 1:20-cv-02134 ( N.D. Ill. )
State/Territory Illinois
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Special Collection COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Attorney Organization Civil Rights Corps
Loevy & Loevy
MacArthur Justice Center
Case Summary
COVID-19 Summary: This is a 18 U.S.C. § 1983/habeas corpus class action lawsuit brought on behalf of inmates in the Cook County Jail in Chicago in light of over 200 positive cases of COVID-19 in the Jail. Plaintiffs seek release for detainees who are vulnerable because of their underlying medical ... read more >
COVID-19 Summary: This is a 18 U.S.C. § 1983/habeas corpus class action lawsuit brought on behalf of inmates in the Cook County Jail in Chicago in light of over 200 positive cases of COVID-19 in the Jail. Plaintiffs seek release for detainees who are vulnerable because of their underlying medical conditions or age, and transfer to a safer place for detainees exposed to COVID-19. The court issued a temporary restraining order on April 9, 2020. On April 14, 2020, the plaintiffs filed a motion for a preliminary injunction which the court granted on April 27, requiring the defendant to implement COVID-19 measures. The defendants appealed to the Seventh Circuit and sought to stay the injunction. On June 19, the Seventh Circuit granted in part the motion to stay the preliminary injunction pending appeal. The injunction was stayed only to the extent that it requires the defendants to put into effect a policy "precluding group housing or double celling of detained persons." The case is ongoing.


As of April 3, 2020, at least 167 detainees and 46 staff members at Cook County Jail ("the Jail") in Chicago had tested positive for the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. In response, the plaintiffs filed this class action complaint under 18 U.S.C. § 1983 on behalf of the class of persons who are detained in the Jail and are facing unreasonable and unnecessary risks of exposure to the coronavirus. The plaintiffs alleged that despite being aware of the substantial risk of harm that COVID-19 poses, the defendant continues to place the plaintiffs in inherently congregate and unclean settings in the Jail and the defendant fails to take reasonable measures to mitigate the dangers spread by the novel coronavirus. As a result, the plaintiffs claimed that class members are deprived of their rights under the Fourteenth Amendment to reasonably safe living conditions. They sought an order on behalf of all class members requiring the Cook County Sheriff to implement constitutionally sufficient procedures to protect their health and safety that are consistent with CDC guidelines and the expert judgment of correctional health specialists. The plaintiffs were represented by a team of lawyers from the civil rights firm Loevy & Loevy, the MacArthur Justice Center at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, and the Civil Rights Corps, a criminal justice advocacy organization in Washington DC.

The proposed class included two subclasses. Subclass A consisted of people in custody who had vulnerabilities that place them in heightened risk of contracting serious COVID-19, including persons over the age of 65 and persons with underlying medical conditions that put them at particular risk of serious harm or death from COVID-19, including but not limited to people with respiratory conditions including chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma; people with heart disease or other heart conditions; people who are immunocompromised as a result of cancer, HIV/AIDS, or any other condition or related to treatment for a medical condition; people with chronic liver or kidney disease or renal failure (including hepatitis and dialysis patients); people with diabetes, epilepsy, hypertension, blood disorders (including sickle cell disease), inherited metabolic disorders; people who have had or are at risk of stroke; and people with any other condition specifically identified by CDC either now or in the future as being a particular risk for severe illness and/or death caused by COVID-19.

The plaintiffs filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 on behalf of Subclass A members, alleging that petitioners were held in custody in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and seeking immediate release of these Subclass A petitioners.

Subclass B consisted of all people who are currently housed on a tier where someone has already tested positive for the coronavirus. The plaintiffs sought transfer of these inmates to a safe facility or some other form of custody.

The same day, the plaintiffs filed an emergency motion for a temporary restraining order (TRO) or preliminary injunction, as well as a motion for an expedited hearing. On April 9, 2020, Judge Matthew F. Kennelly granted in part the plaintiffs' motion for a TRO. The court addressed the plaintiffs' likelihood of success with respect to each of their claims. Ultimately, the court issued narrower temporary relief than sought by the plaintiffs. Specifically, the court directed the defendant to implement a policy requiring "prompt coronavirus testing" of symptomatic detainees, and to the extent feasible based on the acquisition of sufficient testing materials, detainees who had been exposed to the virus. The court also directed the defendant to implement social distancing during the new detainee intake process, including suspending the use of bullpens to hold new detainees awaiting intake. The court further ordered the provision of sanitation products and implementation of a sanitation policy. The court declined the plaintiffs' request for an order requiring the Sheriff to provide all detainees with PPE, instead ordering the defendant to provide masks to only those detainees in quarantine—i.e., those who have been exposed to a detainee who is symptomatic. The court declined the plaintiffs' request to order the defendant to provide adequate medical staff to monitor all detainees within the Jail, and to immediately identify or segregate all medically vulnerable detainees. Finally, the court denied the plaintiffs' request for an order requiring the transfer of Subclass B members to a safe facility or other forms of custody.

With respect to the plaintiffs' habeas corpus action, the court found that because the plaintiffs had not sought emergency bond reductions for at-risk detainees, the habeas corpus claim on the part of the representatives of subclass A was barred due to failure to exhaust available state court remedies.

On April 14, 2020, the plaintiffs filed a motion for a preliminary injunction and limited expedited discovery. On April 27, after holding an evidentiary hearing, the court entered a preliminary injunction requiring the defendant to implement a COVID-19 testing policy, enforce social distancing, provide soap or hand sanitizer to all detainees, implement a sanitization policy, provide face masks to quarantined detainees, and establish a policy precluding group housing or double celling of detained persons in the absence of specific exemptions.

On May 11, 2020, the defendant provided notice of appeal to the United States Circuit Court for the Seventh Circuit to challenge the district court's class certification and preliminary injunction orders. The defendants moved to stay the preliminary injunction pending appeal on May 19, and also asked the Seventh Circuit to stay the preliminary injunction. On May 29, the district court denied the defendant's motion to stay the preliminary injunction pending appeal.

On June 2, the court granted the motion to intervene by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 700 (the Union), which was filed May 1. The next day, the case was referred to Magistrate Judge Weisman for settlement conference and discovery.

On June 19, the Seventh Circuit granted in part the motion to stay the preliminary injunction pending appeal. The injunction was stayed only to the extent that it required the defendants to put into effect a policy "precluding group housing or double celling of detained persons."

On July 7, the parties jointly sought to extend the preliminary injunction and stay discovery pending appeal, which was granted on July 9.

On September 8, 2020, the Seventh Circuit affirmed the district court's granting of the preliminary injunction for all forms of relief except for the double celling and group housing. The Seventh Circuit determined that the district court failed to afford the Sheriff sufficient deference in his determination of the need for double celling, but for all other claims the Court determined that the district court had made detailed factual findings and properly considered the Sheriff's conduct in its totality in granting closely-tailored relief in accordance with CDC guidelines.

As of October 16, 2020, the case remains ongoing.

Elena Malik - 04/06/2020
Averyn Lee - 09/18/2020
Justin Hill - 10/16/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Bathing and hygiene
Conditions of confinement
Food service / nutrition / hydration
Sanitation / living conditions
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Medical/Mental Health
COVID-19 Mitigation Granted
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 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Habeas Corpus, 28 U.S.C. §§ 2241-2253; 2254; 2255
Defendant(s) Cook County
Plaintiff Description A class consisting of all people who are currently or who will in the future be housed in the Cook County Jail for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. This Class includes two subclasses. Subclass A consists of all people who, because of age or previous medical conditions, are at particularly grave risk of harm from COVID-19. Subclass B consists of all people who are currently housed on a tier where someone has already tested positive for the coronavirus.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Civil Rights Corps
Loevy & Loevy
MacArthur Justice Center
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 Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Source of Relief Litigation
Filed 04/03/2020
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)
  Cook County, Illinois: COVID-19 & Jails
http://www.civilrightscorps.org/
Date: Apr. 3, 2020
By: Civil Rights Corps
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
1:20-cv-2134 (N.D. Ill.)
JC-IL-0054-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/10/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint [ECF# 1]
JC-IL-0054-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/03/2020
Emergency Motion for Temporary Restraining Order or Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 2]
JC-IL-0054-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/03/2020
Plaintiffs' Motion and Memorandum in Support of Class Certification [ECF# 6]
JC-IL-0054-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/03/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Motion for Leave to File Oversized Brief in Response to the Court's April 3, 2020 Order [ECF# 26]
JC-IL-0054-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/06/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Supplemental Brief in Support of Their Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order [ECF# 42]
JC-IL-0054-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/07/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Order [ECF# 47] (2020 WL 1812381) (N.D. Ill.)
JC-IL-0054-0005.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 04/09/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Renewed Motion for a Preliminary Injunction and for Limited, Expedited Discovery [ECF# 55 (& 55-1 to 55-10), 56]
JC-IL-0054-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/14/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Reply in Support of Plaintiffs' Renewed Motion for a Preliminary Injunction and for Limited, Expedited Discovery [ECF# 64 (& 64-1 to 64-7)]
JC-IL-0054-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/19/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Order [ECF# 73 & 74] (2020 WL 1987007) (N.D. Ill.)
JC-IL-0054-0010.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 04/27/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Response in Opposition to Defendant's Motion to Stay and to Strike [ECF# 102-1]
JC-IL-0054-0016.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/20/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Order [ECF# 109] (2020 WL 2796082) (N.D. Ill.)
JC-IL-0054-0011.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 05/29/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Motion for Stay Pending Appeal [Ct. of App. ECF# 12-1 to 12-5]
JC-IL-0054-0014.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/05/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs-Appelees' Response to Defendant-Appellant's Motion for Stay [Ct. of App. ECF# 17-1 & 17-2]
JC-IL-0054-0015.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/12/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Ct. of App. ECF# 127] (2020 WL 3422112)
JC-IL-0054-0013.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 06/19/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Parties Joint Motion to Extend the Preliminary Injunction and to Stay Discovery Pending Appeal [ECF# 137]
JC-IL-0054-0017.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/07/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 141] (N.D. Ill.)
JC-IL-0054-0018.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/09/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Motion for Leave to File Brief of Prison & Jail Law Scholars as Amici Curiae Supporting Plaintiffs-Appellees [Ct. of App. ECF# 42]
JC-IL-0054-0019.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/24/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion (974 F.3d 810)
JC-IL-0054-0020.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 09/08/2020
Source: Westlaw
show all people docs
Judges Brennan, Michael Brian (Seventh Circuit) show/hide docs
JC-IL-0054-0013 | JC-IL-0054-0020
Gettleman, Robert William (N.D. Ill.) show/hide docs
JC-IL-0054-0018 | JC-IL-0054-9000
Kennelly, Matthew F. (N.D. Ill.) show/hide docs
JC-IL-0054-0005 | JC-IL-0054-0010 | JC-IL-0054-0011
St. Eve, Amy Joan (N.D. Ill., Seventh Circuit) show/hide docs
JC-IL-0054-0013 | JC-IL-0054-0020
Sykes, Diane S. (Seventh Circuit) show/hide docs
JC-IL-0054-0013 | JC-IL-0054-0020
Weisman, M. David Court not on record show/hide docs
JC-IL-0054-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bowman, Locke E. III (Illinois) show/hide docs
JC-IL-0054-0002 | JC-IL-0054-0003 | JC-IL-0054-0004 | JC-IL-0054-0006 | JC-IL-0054-0007 | JC-IL-0054-0008 | JC-IL-0054-0015 | JC-IL-0054-0016 | JC-IL-0054-0017 | JC-IL-0054-9000
Gerstein, Charles L. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
JC-IL-0054-0002 | JC-IL-0054-0003 | JC-IL-0054-0004 | JC-IL-0054-0006 | JC-IL-0054-0007 | JC-IL-0054-0008 | JC-IL-0054-0015 | JC-IL-0054-0016 | JC-IL-0054-0017 | JC-IL-0054-9000
Grady, Sarah (Illinois) show/hide docs
JC-IL-0054-0002 | JC-IL-0054-0003 | JC-IL-0054-0004 | JC-IL-0054-0006 | JC-IL-0054-0007 | JC-IL-0054-0008 | JC-IL-0054-0015 | JC-IL-0054-0016 | JC-IL-0054-0017 | JC-IL-0054-9000
Grimes, Steve (Illinois) show/hide docs
JC-IL-0054-0006 | JC-IL-0054-0016 | JC-IL-0054-0017 | JC-IL-0054-9000
Karakatsanis, Alec (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
JC-IL-0054-0002 | JC-IL-0054-0003 | JC-IL-0054-0004 | JC-IL-0054-0006 | JC-IL-0054-0007 | JC-IL-0054-0008 | JC-IL-0054-0015 | JC-IL-0054-0016 | JC-IL-0054-0017 | JC-IL-0054-9000
Loevy, Jonathan I. (Illinois) show/hide docs
JC-IL-0054-0015
McAndrew, Thomas F. (Illinois) show/hide docs
JC-IL-0054-0006 | JC-IL-0054-0016 | JC-IL-0054-0017 | JC-IL-0054-9000
Van Brunt, Alexa A. (Illinois) show/hide docs
JC-IL-0054-0001 | JC-IL-0054-0002 | JC-IL-0054-0003 | JC-IL-0054-0004 | JC-IL-0054-0006 | JC-IL-0054-0007 | JC-IL-0054-0008 | JC-IL-0054-0015 | JC-IL-0054-0016 | JC-IL-0054-0017 | JC-IL-0054-9000
Weil, Stephen Heschel (Illinois) show/hide docs
JC-IL-0054-0002 | JC-IL-0054-0003 | JC-IL-0054-0004 | JC-IL-0054-0006 | JC-IL-0054-0007 | JC-IL-0054-0008 | JC-IL-0054-0016 | JC-IL-0054-0017 | JC-IL-0054-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Anderson, Brandon Michael (Illinois) show/hide docs
JC-IL-0054-9000
Dierks, Lari Ann (Illinois) show/hide docs
JC-IL-0054-0014 | JC-IL-0054-0017 | JC-IL-0054-9000
Huffman−Gottschling, David George (Illinois) show/hide docs
JC-IL-0054-9000
Lydon, James Matthias (Illinois) show/hide docs
JC-IL-0054-0014 | JC-IL-0054-0017 | JC-IL-0054-9000
Rizzo, Vincent Michael (Illinois) show/hide docs
JC-IL-0054-9000
Shannon, Robert (Illinois) show/hide docs
JC-IL-0054-0014 | JC-IL-0054-0017 | JC-IL-0054-9000
Sperry, Gretchen Harris (Illinois) show/hide docs
JC-IL-0054-0014 | JC-IL-0054-0017 | JC-IL-0054-9000
Vaught, Adam Robert (Illinois) show/hide docs
JC-IL-0054-0017 | JC-IL-0054-9000
Voyles, Sherrie E (Illinois) show/hide docs
JC-IL-0054-9000
Other Lawyers Flessner, Mark A. (Illinois) show/hide docs
JC-IL-0054-9000
Kane, Stephen J. (Illinois) show/hide docs
JC-IL-0054-9000
Matz, Joshua A (New York) show/hide docs
JC-IL-0054-0019

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