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Case Name Graham v. Allegheny County JC-PA-0039
Docket / Court 2:20-cv-00496-CB-CRE ( W.D. Pa. )
State/Territory Pennsylvania
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Jail Conditions
Special Collection COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
Case Summary
COVID-19 Summary: The ACLU of Pennsylvania filed this class action suit on behalf of pretrial detainees in a PA jail with a subclass of those who were at a heightened risk of contracting COVID-19. The complaint alleged that the conditions in the jail failed to meet CDC recommendations and amounted ... read more >
COVID-19 Summary: The ACLU of Pennsylvania filed this class action suit on behalf of pretrial detainees in a PA jail with a subclass of those who were at a heightened risk of contracting COVID-19. The complaint alleged that the conditions in the jail failed to meet CDC recommendations and amounted to a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Fourteenth Amendment. The parties moved for settlement by entry of consent order on May 26, which mooted the need for preliminary injunction. The remainder of the litigation remains ongoing.


Plaintiffs in this class action law suit, three people detained at the Allegheny County Jail (ACJ), filed this complaint in the District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania on April 8, 2020. They were represented by the ACLU of Pennsylvania, Abolitionist Law Center, and Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project. The complaint alleged that the conditions in the jail increased the likelihood that they will contract COVID-19 in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Fourteenth Amendment. They sought declaratory and injunctive relief as well as writs of habeas corpus. The case was assigned to Judge Cathy Bissoon and the named defendants were Allegheny County and the warden of the jail.

The proposed class included a broader class with two subclasses. The broader class encompassed all current and future detainees at ACJ. The two subclasses were people who, by reason of age or medical condition, were particularly vulnerable to injury or death if they were to contract COVID-19 (“Medically-Vulnerable Subclass”), and persons who, by reason of their disability, were particularly vulnerable to injury or death if they were to contract COVID-19 (“Disability Subclass").

According to the complaint, after the declaration of a national emergency in light of COVID-19 the jail managed to decrease it population by 20% but failed to take the additional necessary steps to protect the people detained there. Rather than implementing best practices as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control, jail administration instead consolidated how people were housed, leaving an entire floor empty and increasing the number of people housed in cells with another person.

The plaintiffs filed a motion for a preliminary injunction on April 9, 2020 seeking immediate release from ACJ. After a status conference in May, the parties began working jointly on a consent order. They moved for settlement by entry of consent order on May 26, 2020.

The consent order included requirements that the defendants adopt and effectively implement a comprehensive policy entitled “Continuing of Operations Plan: COVID-19 (Updated)." This policy details updates to be made across all facets of operation in ACJ. The 17 major categories the policy covers are: 1) Employee screening; 2) Procedures for screening and housing determinations for new arrests/admissions to ACJ; 3) Treatment and isolation; 4) Specimen testing; 5) Contact study review; 6) Healthcare operations; 7) Prevention and education; 8) Non-essential services; 9) Courts, transfers, legal services and releases; 10) Social distancing in general population units; 11) Dietary; 12) Environmental cleaning in employee areas, housing units, intake areas, and of restraints; 13) Inmate phone calls, hygiene, and recreation; 14) Population management; 15) Provision of sanitation and hygiene products; 16) Notification to PA Department of Health; and 17) Employee illness/staffing levels. The consent order also included weekly reporting requirements to plaintiffs' attorneys regarding illness in ACJ.

The court granted the consent order on May 27 and in doing so denied as moot the plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunction in light of the agreement. The order explicitly did not resolve the plaintiffs' claims under the ADA or the habeas petitions.

The plaintiffs moved to extend the consent order on August 24, which Judge. Bissoon granted that same day. The case is ongoing in alternative dispute resolution and discovery.

Alex Moody - 05/28/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Due Process: Substantive Due Process
Defendant-type
Corrections
Disability
disability, unspecified
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Bathing and hygiene
Conditions of confinement
Sanitation / living conditions
Totality of conditions
Medical/Mental Health
COVID-19 Mitigation Granted
COVID-19 Mitigation Requested
COVID-19 Release Requested
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Special Case Type
Habeas
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Habeas Corpus, 28 U.S.C. §§ 2241-2253; 2254; 2255
Defendant(s) Allegheny County
Allegheny County Jail
Plaintiff Description Three people detained in the Allegheny County Jail at heightened risk of serious illness or death if they were to contract COVID-19
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
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 yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filed 04/09/2020
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)
  Graham et al. v. Allegheny County
https://www.aclupa.org/
Date: Apr. 7, 2020
By: ACLU of Pennsylvania
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
2:20-cv-496 (W.D. Pa.)
JC-PA-0039-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/29/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1 (& 1-1 to 1-9)]
JC-PA-0039-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/07/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs-Petitioners' Motion for Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 18 (& 18-1 to 18-19)]
JC-PA-0039-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/09/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiff-Petitioners' Brief in Support of Motion for Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 27]
JC-PA-0039-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/10/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendants' Response to Motion for Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 59]
JC-PA-0039-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/05/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendants' Answer and Affirmative Defenses [ECF# 60]
JC-PA-0039-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/05/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Joint Motion for Entry of Consent Order [ECF# 70]
JC-PA-0039-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/26/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Consent Order [ECF# 71] (2020 WL 2772398) (W.D. Pa.)
JC-PA-0039-0007.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 05/27/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Bissoon, Cathy (W.D. Pa.) show/hide docs
JC-PA-0039-0007 | JC-PA-0039-9000
Eddy, Cynthia Reed Court not on record [Magistrate] show/hide docs
JC-PA-0039-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Cozzens, Quinn (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
JC-PA-0039-0001 | JC-PA-0039-0002 | JC-PA-0039-0003 | JC-PA-0039-0006 | JC-PA-0039-9000
Fathi, David Cyrus (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
JC-PA-0039-0001 | JC-PA-0039-0002 | JC-PA-0039-0003 | JC-PA-0039-9000
Grote, Bret D. (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
JC-PA-0039-0001 | JC-PA-0039-0002 | JC-PA-0039-0003 | JC-PA-0039-0006 | JC-PA-0039-9000
Kurin, Jaclyn (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
JC-PA-0039-0001 | JC-PA-0039-0002 | JC-PA-0039-0003 | JC-PA-0039-0006 | JC-PA-0039-9000
Lobel, Jules L. (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
JC-PA-0039-0001 | JC-PA-0039-0002 | JC-PA-0039-0003 | JC-PA-0039-0006 | JC-PA-0039-9000
Moore, Ryan M. (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
JC-PA-0039-0001 | JC-PA-0039-0002 | JC-PA-0039-0003 | JC-PA-0039-9000
Morgan-Kurtz, Alexandra T. (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
JC-PA-0039-0001 | JC-PA-0039-0002 | JC-PA-0039-0003 | JC-PA-0039-0006 | JC-PA-0039-9000
Rose, Sara (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
JC-PA-0039-0001 | JC-PA-0039-0002 | JC-PA-0039-0003 | JC-PA-0039-0006 | JC-PA-0039-9000
Rosenberg, Rachel M. (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
JC-PA-0039-0001 | JC-PA-0039-0002 | JC-PA-0039-0003 | JC-PA-0039-9000
Sachse, Will W. (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
JC-PA-0039-0001 | JC-PA-0039-0002 | JC-PA-0039-0003 | JC-PA-0039-9000
Tulante, Sozi Pedro (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
JC-PA-0039-0001 | JC-PA-0039-0002 | JC-PA-0039-0003 | JC-PA-0039-0006 | JC-PA-0039-9000
Uber, Swain (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
JC-PA-0039-0001 | JC-PA-0039-0002 | JC-PA-0039-0003 | JC-PA-0039-0006 | JC-PA-0039-9000
Walczak, Witold J. (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
JC-PA-0039-0001 | JC-PA-0039-0002 | JC-PA-0039-0003 | JC-PA-0039-0006 | JC-PA-0039-9000
Ward, Cory A. (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
JC-PA-0039-0001 | JC-PA-0039-0002 | JC-PA-0039-0003 | JC-PA-0039-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Bacharach, John A. (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
JC-PA-0039-0004 | JC-PA-0039-0005 | JC-PA-0039-0006 | JC-PA-0039-9000
Biondo, Dennis R. (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
JC-PA-0039-9000
Szefi, Andrew F. (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
JC-PA-0039-9000

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