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Case Name McPherson v. Lamont PC-CT-0022
Docket / Court 3:20-cv-00534 ( D. Conn. )
State/Territory Connecticut
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Prison Conditions
Special Collection COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Post-WalMart decisions on class certification
Attorney Organization ACLU Affiliates (any)
ACLU National Prison Project
Case Summary
COVID-19 Summary: This is a putative class action brought on April 20, 2020, by five detainees at the Connecticut Department of Correction, seeking release from detention or transfer to home confinement due to elevated health risks in light of the virus. The class was certified on June 12. On July 1 ... read more >
COVID-19 Summary: This is a putative class action brought on April 20, 2020, by five detainees at the Connecticut Department of Correction, seeking release from detention or transfer to home confinement due to elevated health risks in light of the virus. The class was certified on June 12. On July 17, the parties entered into a settlement agreement which provided for a variety of specific mitigation measures to improve COVID-19-related sanitation, hygiene, testing, and medical monitoring at every Connecticut DOC facility, and discretionary release that prioritizes prisoners who are 65 or older, or with a medical score of 4 or 5. The agreement was approved and the case was dismissed on July 22. Several individuals have objected to the settlement and two individuals have appealed. The settlement agreement expired on December 31, 2020. There was on appeal pending but it was dismissed on March 16, 2021, the case is now believed to be closed.


On April 20, 2020, five individuals held at the Connecticut Department of Correction (DOC) filed a putative class action at the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut. Represented by the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation, ACLU of Connecticut and private counsel, the plaintiffs brought this lawsuit as a habeas petition under 28 U.S.C. under § 2241, and as an injunctive and declaratory action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 28 U.S.C. § 2201-02. Specifically, the plaintiffs alleged that the conditions of confinement posed an unreasonable risk of COVID-19 in violation of detainees’ Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. They alleged that the defendants' failure to implement CDC-mandated guidelines had resulted in a surge of COVID-19 cases at the DOC, and that those detainees had been transferred to isolation units unfit to serve as medical correctional facilities.The case was assigned to Judge Charles S Haight, then reassigned to Judge Janet Bond Arterton on April 27.

The plaintiffs filed this action on behalf of all people who are, or will be, held in DOC, via a "Pre-adjudication Class" and a "Post-adjudication Class." These classes, which represent an estimated 11,840 people, are further grouped into subclasses, which are: the “Medically Vulnerable Pre-adjudication Subclass,” comprised of medically vulnerable detainees awaiting the adjudication of their charges, and the “Medically Vulnerable Post-adjudication Subclass,” comprised of those currently serving a criminal sentence. The plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief, and/or a writ of habeas corpus requiring the immediate release of both subclasses, as well as a plan for mitigation efforts in compliance with CDC guidelines, to be overseen by a qualified public health expert. In the alternative of the immediate release, the petitioners sought an expedited review of the complaint.

On April 27, the plaintiffs submitted a motion for temporary restraining order requesting that the plan for mitigation efforts to be submitted in three days, as well as weekly reports of medically vulnerable populations held at the DOC. The defendants submitted a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction on May 1, claiming that the plaintiffs failed to exhaust available habeas remedies and administrative remedies under §1983 and the Prison Litigation Reform Act.

The motion to dismiss was denied on May 6, noting that the normal grievance process was “practically . . . incapable of use” for COVID-19 purposes, due to the imminent health threat the virus posed. 2020 WL 2198279. The case was then referred to Judge William I Garfinkel for the purpose of expediting scheduling and discovery.

On May 10, the plaintiffs filed a motion for a preliminary injunction, requesting similar demands as in the motion for TRO. On May 18, the defendants claimed that they had already significantly reduced the inmate population in response to the COVID-19 pandemic (1,810 detainees or 14.6% of the total population), and implemented evaluations for early release.

Between June 1-6, the parties had settlement conferences before Magistrate Judge Garfinkel. Pursuant to their settlement agreement, the parties jointly sought class certification on June 11; the proposed class was “[a]ll persons who were incarcerated in a DOC facility from March 1, 2020, or are incarcerated, or in the future will be so incarcerated, until the termination date of this Agreement, December 31, 2020.” Class certification was granted on June 12. On June 19, the court directed notice to the class.

On July 2, Rupert A. Thompson, an individual held at the Connecticut DOC, sought to intervene. Between July 2-13, over fifty individual plaintiffs submitted various objections to the settlement agreement, such as a lack of notice regarding the class, and sought to opt-out, claiming that the agreement did not address the needs of the entire inmate population. Another individual held at the facility sought to intervene on July 13.

On July 17, the defendants sought an order finding compliance with the order giving notice to the class and for a finding of adequacy of the notice given. The same day, the parties sought approval of their settlement agreement. In the settlement agreement, the parties agreed to a variety of specific mitigation measures to improve COVID-19-related sanitation, hygiene, testing, and medical monitoring at every Connecticut DOC facility, and discretionary release that prioritized prisoners who are 65 or older, or with a medical score of 4 or 5. A five-person monitoring panel was to (1) oversee adherence to COVID-19-related correctional public health standards and to (2) make real-time, publicly available, recommendations to DOC regarding its COVID-19 mitigation efforts. The agreement also outlined a dispute resolution procedure in front of Judge Garfinkel in the event of defendants’ non-compliance with the measures in the Agreement.

On July 20, the court denied the post-notice motions of class members seeking to opt-out, as they requested individualized relief. The same day, the court granted the defendants motion for an order finding compliance. The court held a hearing and on July 22, as agreed in the settlement agreement, the court dismissed the case.

Several individuals continued to object to the settlement and the court required the parties to respond to the objections by November 30. Two individuals appealed the settlement approval on August 17 and 20. The first appeal, filed by Michael Young, was assigned USCA Case Number 20-2949, and was subsequently dismissed on March 16, 2021.

Individuals continued to file objections to settlement, motions to reopen the case, and on January 26, a non-party filed an emergency motion for restraining order. On March 2, the court issued a notice stating that the settlement agreement expired on December 31, 2020 and the class ceased to exist as of that same date. The court further stated that it terminated its jurisdiction and all motions and requests related to the settlement that were filed after December 31 were dismissed. The case is now believed to be closed.

Averyn Lee - 09/23/2020
Chandler Hart-McGonigle - 11/15/2020
Zofia Peach - 04/02/2021


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process
Due Process: Substantive Due Process
Content of Injunction
Monitoring
COVID-19
CDC Guidance ordered implemented
COVID reporting ordered
COVID testing ordered/modified
Independent monitor/inspector imposed/assisted
Inspection ordered/regulated
Mitigation Denied
Mitigation Granted
Mitigation Requested
Population reduction/cap
PPE-ordered provided to prisoners for free
PPE-ordered worn by staff
Quarantine/isolation ordered
Release Denied
Release Requested
Release-process created/modified
Sanitizer/Handsoap ordered made available/used
Wellness/temperature checks ordered
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
Defendant-type
Corrections
Jurisdiction-wide
General
Bathing and hygiene
Conditions of confinement
Sanitation / living conditions
Totality of conditions
Medical/Mental Health
Medical care, general
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Special Case Type
Habeas
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Habeas Corpus, 28 U.S.C. §§ 2241-2253; 2254; 2255
Defendant(s) Connecticut Department of Correction Commissioner
Governor of Connecticut
Plaintiff Description Five inmates at the Connecticut Department of Correction, on behalf of a class of all individuals within the department and subclasses of medically vulnerable individuals, seeking mitigation efforts and release from detention due to the risks to their health in light of the virus.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Affiliates (any)
ACLU National Prison Project
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status outcome Granted
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2020 - 2020
Filed 04/20/2020
Case Closing Year 2020
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  McPherson et al v. Lamont et al
Date: Apr. 20, 2020
(American Civil Liberties Union)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
D. Conn.
03/16/2021
3:20-cv-00534
PC-CT-0022-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
D. Conn.
04/20/2020
Class Action Complaint For Declaratory and Injunctive Relief and Petition For Writs Of Habeas Corpus [ECF# 1]
PC-CT-0022-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Conn.
04/27/2020
Plaintiffs-Petitioners' Motion For Temporary Restraining Order [ECF# 15]
PC-CT-0022-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Conn.
05/01/2020
Respondents' Motion To Dismiss [ECF# 26]
PC-CT-0022-0003.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Conn.
05/01/2020
Respondents' Motion To Dismiss Exhibits A - D [ECF# 26]
PC-CT-0022-0004.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Conn.
05/01/2020
Respondents' Motion To Dismiss Exhibit E [ECF# 26]
PC-CT-0022-0005.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Conn.
05/01/2020
Respondents' Motion To Dismiss Exhibits F - I [ECF# 26]
PC-CT-0022-0006.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Conn.
05/01/2020
Respondents' Motion To Dismiss Exhibits J - P [ECF# 26]
PC-CT-0022-0007.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Conn.
05/03/2020
Memorandum of Law In Support Of Plaintiffs-Petitioners' Opposition To Respondents' Motion To Dismiss [ECF# 34]
PC-CT-0022-0008.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Conn.
05/03/2020
Memorandum Of Law In Support Of Plaintiffs-Petitioners’ Opposition To Respondents’ Motion To Dismiss Exhibits 1-6 [ECF# 34]
PC-CT-0022-0009.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Conn.
05/03/2020
Memorandum Of Law In Support Of Plaintiffs-Petitioners’ Opposition To Respondents’ Motion To Dismiss Exhibit 7 [ECF# 34]
PC-CT-0022-0010.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Conn.
05/03/2020
Memorandum Of Law In Support Of Plaintiffs-Petitioners’ Opposition To Respondents’ Motion To Dismiss Exhibit 8A [ECF# 34]
PC-CT-0022-0011.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Conn.
05/03/2020
Memorandum Of Law In Support Of Plaintiffs-Petitioners’ Opposition To Respondents’ Motion To Dismiss Exhibit 8b [ECF# 34]
PC-CT-0022-0012.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Conn.
05/03/2020
Memorandum Of Law In Support Of Plaintiffs-Petitioners’ Opposition To Respondents’ Motion To Dismiss Exhibits 9-15 [ECF# 34]
PC-CT-0022-0013.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Conn.
05/06/2020
Ruling Denying Defendants' Motion To Dismiss [ECF# 37] (457 F.Supp.3d 67)
PC-CT-0022-0014.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Conn.
05/10/2020
Plaintiffs-Petitioners’ Motion For Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 43]
PC-CT-0022-0015.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Conn.
05/18/2020
Respondents' Memorandum in Opposition to Petitioners' Motion for a Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 59 (& 59-1 to 59-25)]
PC-CT-0022-0017.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Conn.
05/20/2020
Plaintiff-Petitioners' Reply in Further Support of Their Motion for a Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 66, 66-1]
PC-CT-0022-0016.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Conn.
06/11/2020
Joint Motion for Class Certification [ECF# 104 & 104-1]
PC-CT-0022-0018.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Conn.
06/17/2020
Motion to Intersect and Intervene [ECF# 127]
PC-CT-0022-0021.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Conn.
06/26/2020
Modified Settlement Agreement and General Release [ECF# 119-1]
PC-CT-0022-0019.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Conn.
06/26/2020
Joint Notice of Modified Settlement Agreement and General Release [ECF# 119 (& 119-1)]
PC-CT-0022-0020.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Conn.
07/07/2020
Objection to Class of Settlement Agreement and Class Action F.R.C.P. 23 (e)(5) "My" Objection to Proposed "Settlement Agreement" [ECF# 128 & 132]
PC-CT-0022-0024.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Conn.
07/07/2020
Class Action F.R.C.P.23(e)(5) "My Objection" to Proposed "Settlement Agreement" [ECF# 132-1 & 132-2]
PC-CT-0022-0025.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Conn.
07/07/2020
Class Action F.R.C.P. 23 (e)(5) "My" Objection to Proposed "Settlement Agreement" [ECF# 132-3]
PC-CT-0022-0026.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Conn.
07/07/2020
Class Action F.R.C.P. 23 (e)(5) "My" Objection to Proposed "Settlement Agreement" [ECF# 132-4, 132-5, & 132-6]
PC-CT-0022-0027.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Conn.
07/07/2020
Class Action F.R.C.P. 23 (e)(5) "My" Objection to Proposed "Settlement Agreement" [ECF# 132-7, 132-8, & 132-9]
PC-CT-0022-0028.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Conn.
07/07/2020
Class Action F.R.C.P. 23 (e)(5) "My" Objection to Proposed "Settlement Agreement" [ECF# 132-10 & 132-11]
PC-CT-0022-0029.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Conn.
07/07/2020
Class Action F.R.C.P. 23 (e)(5) "My" Objection to Proposed "Settlement Agreement" [ECF# 132-12]
PC-CT-0022-0030.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Conn.
07/10/2020
Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 155]
PC-CT-0022-0023.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Conn.
07/13/2020
Motion to Intervene [ECF# 152, 152-1]
PC-CT-0022-0022.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Conn.
07/17/2020
Motion to Approve Settlement Agreement [ECF# 169, 169-1, 169-2]
PC-CT-0022-0031.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
D. Conn.
07/20/2020
Order Denying Post-Notice Opt-Out and Intervenor Motions [ECF# 172] (2020 WL 4198749)
PC-CT-0022-0032.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
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Judges Arterton, Janet Bond (D. Conn.) show/hide docs
PC-CT-0022-0014 | PC-CT-0022-0032 | PC-CT-0022-9000
Bellis, Barbara N. Court not on record show/hide docs
PC-CT-0022-0031
Garfinkel, William I. (D. Conn.) show/hide docs
PC-CT-0022-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Barrett, Dan (Connecticut) show/hide docs
PC-CT-0022-0001 | PC-CT-0022-0002 | PC-CT-0022-0008 | PC-CT-0022-0009 | PC-CT-0022-0010 | PC-CT-0022-0011 | PC-CT-0022-0012 | PC-CT-0022-0013 | PC-CT-0022-0015 | PC-CT-0022-0016 | PC-CT-0022-0018 | PC-CT-0022-0019 | PC-CT-0022-0020 | PC-CT-0022-0031 | PC-CT-0022-9000
Bildner, Elana (Connecticut) show/hide docs
PC-CT-0022-0001 | PC-CT-0022-0002 | PC-CT-0022-0008 | PC-CT-0022-0009 | PC-CT-0022-0010 | PC-CT-0022-0011 | PC-CT-0022-0012 | PC-CT-0022-0013 | PC-CT-0022-0015 | PC-CT-0022-0016 | PC-CT-0022-0018 | PC-CT-0022-0019 | PC-CT-0022-0020 | PC-CT-0022-0031 | PC-CT-0022-9000
Buskey, Brandon (New York) show/hide docs
PC-CT-0022-0001 | PC-CT-0022-0002 | PC-CT-0022-0008 | PC-CT-0022-0009 | PC-CT-0022-0010 | PC-CT-0022-0011 | PC-CT-0022-0012 | PC-CT-0022-0013 | PC-CT-0022-0015 | PC-CT-0022-0016 | PC-CT-0022-0018 | PC-CT-0022-0020 | PC-CT-0022-0031 | PC-CT-0022-9000
Erwin, Daniel Murphy (Connecticut) show/hide docs
PC-CT-0022-9000
Newmark, Jenna (New York) show/hide docs
PC-CT-0022-0001 | PC-CT-0022-0002 | PC-CT-0022-0008 | PC-CT-0022-0009 | PC-CT-0022-0010 | PC-CT-0022-0011 | PC-CT-0022-0012 | PC-CT-0022-0013 | PC-CT-0022-0015 | PC-CT-0022-0016 | PC-CT-0022-0018 | PC-CT-0022-0020 | PC-CT-0022-0031 | PC-CT-0022-9000
Piper, Gabrielle Naomi (New York) show/hide docs
PC-CT-0022-0020 | PC-CT-0022-9000
Piper, Gabrielle Naomi (Connecticut) show/hide docs
PC-CT-0022-0001 | PC-CT-0022-0002 | PC-CT-0022-0008 | PC-CT-0022-0009 | PC-CT-0022-0010 | PC-CT-0022-0011 | PC-CT-0022-0012 | PC-CT-0022-0015 | PC-CT-0022-0016 | PC-CT-0022-0018 | PC-CT-0022-0031
Sachse, Friedrich-Wilhelm Wolfgang (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
PC-CT-0022-0001 | PC-CT-0022-0002 | PC-CT-0022-0008 | PC-CT-0022-0009 | PC-CT-0022-0010 | PC-CT-0022-0011 | PC-CT-0022-0012 | PC-CT-0022-0015 | PC-CT-0022-0016 | PC-CT-0022-0018 | PC-CT-0022-0019 | PC-CT-0022-0020 | PC-CT-0022-0031 | PC-CT-0022-9000
Tam, Jonathan S (California) show/hide docs
PC-CT-0022-0001 | PC-CT-0022-0002 | PC-CT-0022-0008 | PC-CT-0022-0009 | PC-CT-0022-0010 | PC-CT-0022-0011 | PC-CT-0022-0012 | PC-CT-0022-0015 | PC-CT-0022-0016 | PC-CT-0022-0018 | PC-CT-0022-0020 | PC-CT-0022-0031 | PC-CT-0022-9000
Taubes, Alexander T. (Connecticut) show/hide docs
PC-CT-0022-0016 | PC-CT-0022-0018 | PC-CT-0022-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Belforti, James Michael (Connecticut) show/hide docs
PC-CT-0022-0003 | PC-CT-0022-0004 | PC-CT-0022-0005 | PC-CT-0022-0006 | PC-CT-0022-0007 | PC-CT-0022-0017 | PC-CT-0022-0018 | PC-CT-0022-0019 | PC-CT-0022-0020 | PC-CT-0022-9000
Donohue, James W. (Connecticut) show/hide docs
PC-CT-0022-0003 | PC-CT-0022-0004 | PC-CT-0022-0005 | PC-CT-0022-0006 | PC-CT-0022-0007 | PC-CT-0022-0017 | PC-CT-0022-0018 | PC-CT-0022-0019 | PC-CT-0022-0020 | PC-CT-0022-9000
Medeiros, Janelle (Connecticut) show/hide docs
PC-CT-0022-9000
O'Neill, Terrance M. (Connecticut) show/hide docs
PC-CT-0022-0003 | PC-CT-0022-0004 | PC-CT-0022-0005 | PC-CT-0022-0006 | PC-CT-0022-0007 | PC-CT-0022-0017 | PC-CT-0022-0018 | PC-CT-0022-0019 | PC-CT-0022-0020 | PC-CT-0022-9000
Rowley, Edward David (Connecticut) show/hide docs
PC-CT-0022-9000
Strom, Steven R. (Connecticut) show/hide docs
PC-CT-0022-0003 | PC-CT-0022-0004 | PC-CT-0022-0005 | PC-CT-0022-0006 | PC-CT-0022-0007 | PC-CT-0022-0017 | PC-CT-0022-0018 | PC-CT-0022-0019 | PC-CT-0022-0020 | PC-CT-0022-9000
Tong, William (Connecticut) show/hide docs
PC-CT-0022-0003 | PC-CT-0022-0004 | PC-CT-0022-0005 | PC-CT-0022-0006 | PC-CT-0022-0007 | PC-CT-0022-0017 | PC-CT-0022-0018 | PC-CT-0022-0019 | PC-CT-0022-0020

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