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Case Name N.H. ex rel J.H. v. Edwards JI-LA-0013
Docket / Court 3:20-cv-00293-JWD-EWD ( M.D. La. )
State/Territory Louisiana
Case Type(s) Juvenile Institution
Special Collection COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Attorney Organization Juvenile Law Center
Case Summary
COVID-19 Summary: This is a joint class action lawsuit and habeas petition brought on behalf of children confined in four secure care facilities operated by the Louisiana Office of Juvenile Justice, seeking release and mitigation in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The plaintiffs alleged that ... read more >
COVID-19 Summary: This is a joint class action lawsuit and habeas petition brought on behalf of children confined in four secure care facilities operated by the Louisiana Office of Juvenile Justice, seeking release and mitigation in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The plaintiffs alleged that children are at-risk for contracting and transmitting COVID-19 and that they may be vulnerable to life-threatening complications both during and after the infection itself appears to have resolved. The plaintiffs sought a temporary restraining order and later also requested an order requiring the defendants to give the plaintiffs access to confidential communication with their counsel. On June 2, the plaintiffs filed a motion for class certification for the proposed class. The defendants moved for summary judgment on July 29 and filed a motion to dismiss on October 20. A settlement conference was held on November 10. No outcome yet.


On May 14, 2020, this lawsuit was filed on behalf of children confined in secure care facilities in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana under the habeas statute, 22 U.S.C. § 2241, and 42 U.S.C. § 1983, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and its severity in Louisiana. Represented by the Juvenile Law Center, the Promise of Justice Initiative, and private counsel, the plaintiffs alleged violations of their Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Specifically, they alleged that the Louisiana Office of Juvenile Justice ("OJJ") had not significantly reduced the population of confined children and had failed to implement an updated pandemic policy or a remedial plan in the four OJJ secure care facilities that complied with CDC guidance. Moreover, they alleged that OJJ’s policies placed children at a substantial risk of serious, long-term mental, developmental and emotional harm, in part because of isolation and the cessation of therapeutic services. The case was assigned to Judge John W. DeGravelles.

The plaintiffs sought to certify a class of all children who are, or will in the future be, confined at the four secure care facilities operated by OJJ: Acadiana Center for Youth in Bunkie; Bridge City Center for Youth; Swanson Center for Youth Columbia; and Swanson Center for Youth Monroe. The plaintiffs alleged that children are at-risk for contracting and transmitting COVID-19, and that they may be vulnerable to life-threatening complications both during and after the infection itself appears to have resolved. In OJJ facilities, 97% of the children who were tested had tested positive.

On May 15, the plaintiffs sought a temporary restraining order that would enjoin the defendants from (1) continuing to confine all children who are currently within 180 days of their release dates; (2) continuing to confine children who are presumptively eligible for release; (3) failing to test children for COVID-19; (4) using "Behavioral Intervention Rooms" for any child who tests positive for COVID-19 or displays symptoms of the disease; (5) confining children to their dormitories for lengthy periods of time; (6) using pepper spray on children; and (7) continuing the suspension of structured educational and rehabilitative programming in OJJ facilities. They also requested that the court require the defendants to develop and implement, within 48 hours, a plan to mitigate the substantial risk of serious harm from COVID-19.

On May 27, the defendants responded to the plaintiff's motion for temporary restraining order, claiming that they had implemented an appropriate response to the pandemic including social distancing, modification of educational and rehabilitation services, and testing and monitoring that exceeded CDC guidelines. They argued that the plaintiffs had failed to establish a substantial likelihood of success on the merits for multiple reasons, including that the plaintiffs failed to exhaust administrative remedies under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, and that granting the plaintiffs' requests were not in the public interest.

On June 2, the plaintiffs filed a motion for class certification for the proposed class. On June 19, they also asked the court to order the defendants to provide all putative class members with access to confidential communication with counsel by video or telephone. They claimed that the defendants had obstructed the putative class members from contacting their counsel, or at the very least, had been dilatory and evasive in facilitating the request for the children to do so.

The defendants moved for summary judgment on July 29, arguing that there was no genuine issue of material fact, as the court found during the evidentiary hearing that the plaintiffs had not come close to meeting the constitutional threshold for habeas relief or relief. Plaintiffs moved to withdraw class certification and to defer a ruling on the summary judgment motion until the parties could conduct discovery.

After defendants filed a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction on October 20, a settlement conference was held on November 10 and the court issued a 60-day order of conditional dismissal.

The case is ongoing.

Elena Malik - 05/20/2020
Averyn Lee - 09/15/2020
Chandler Hart-McGonigle - 11/26/2020


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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
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
General
Bathing and hygiene
Conditions of confinement
Juveniles
Sanitation / living conditions
Totality of conditions
Medical/Mental Health
COVID-19 Mitigation Requested
COVID-19 Release Requested
Medical care, general
Medical care, unspecified
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) Director of the Bridge City Center for Youth
Director of the Acadiana Center for Youth
Director of the Swanson Center for Youth
Governor of Louisiana
The Louisiana Office of Juvenile Justice
Plaintiff Description All children who are, or will in the future be, confined at Acadiana Center for Youth in Bunkie; Bridge City Center for Youth; Swanson Center for Youth Columbia; and Swanson Center for Youth Monroe
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Juvenile Law Center
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Moot
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
None
Source of Relief None yet
None
Filed 05/14/2020
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)
Court Docket(s)
M.D. La.
08/06/2020
3:20-cv-00293-JWD-EWD
JI-LA-0013-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
M.D. La.
05/14/2020
Class Action Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief and Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus [ECF# 1]
JI-LA-0013-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
M.D. La.
05/15/2020
Plaintiffs Emergency Motion for Temporary Restraining Order Seeking Immediate Furlough [ECF# 7, 7-1, 7-2, 7-3, 7-4, 7-5]
JI-LA-0013-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
M.D. La.
05/26/2020
Memorandum in Response to Plaintiffs' Emergency Motion for Temporary Restraining Order Seeking Immediate Furlough [ECF# 26]
JI-LA-0013-0007.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
M.D. La.
05/27/2020
Reply Memorandum in Support of Plaintiffs-Petitioners' Emergency Motion for Temporary Restraining Order [ECF# 31 (& 31-1 to 31-9)]
JI-LA-0013-0003.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
M.D. La.
05/27/2020
The Louisiana Office of Juvenile Justice Defendants' Response to Plaintiffs' Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Exhibits A through C [ECF# 34, 34-1, 34-2, 34-3]
JI-LA-0013-0004.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
M.D. La.
05/27/2020
Exhibits D through G of The Louisiana Office of Juvenile Justice Defendants' Response to Plaintiffs' Motion for Temporary Restraining Order [ECF# 34-4, 34-5, 34-6, 34-7]
JI-LA-0013-0005.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
M.D. La.
06/02/2020
Plaintiffs-Petitioners' Motion for Class Certification [ECF# 60 (& 60-1)]
JI-LA-0013-0006.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
M.D. La.
06/19/2020
Plaintiffs-Petitioners' Motion Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(D) [ECF# 85 (& 85-1 to 85-4)]
JI-LA-0013-0008.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
M.D. La.
07/03/2020
The Louisiana Office of Juvenile Justice Defendants' Response in Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(d) [ECF# 97, 97-1 & 97-2]
JI-LA-0013-0009.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
M.D. La.
07/07/2020
The Louisiana Office of Juvenile Justice Defendants' Answer to Plaintiffs' Class Action Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief and Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus [ECF# 98]
JI-LA-0013-0010.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
M.D. La.
07/07/2020
Governor John Bel Edwards's Answer to Plaintiffs' Class Action Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief and Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus [ECF# 99]
JI-LA-0013-0011.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
M.D. La.
07/17/2020
Reply Memorandum in Support of Plaintiffs' Motion Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(D) [ECF# 102 (incl. 102-1 to 102-8)]
JI-LA-0013-0012.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
M.D. La.
07/29/2020
The Louisiana Office of Juvenile Justice Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment [ECF# 120 (& 120-1 to 120-3)]
JI-LA-0013-0013.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
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Judges DeGravelles, John Wheadon (M.D. La.) show/hide docs
JI-LA-0013-0002 | JI-LA-0013-9000
Wilder-Doomes, Erin Court not on record [Magistrate] show/hide docs
JI-LA-0013-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Adcock, John Nelson (Louisiana) show/hide docs
JI-LA-0013-0001 | JI-LA-0013-0002 | JI-LA-0013-0003 | JI-LA-0013-0006 | JI-LA-0013-0008 | JI-LA-0013-0012 | JI-LA-0013-9000
Amash, Brandon Christopher (California) show/hide docs
JI-LA-0013-0001 | JI-LA-0013-0002 | JI-LA-0013-0003 | JI-LA-0013-0006 | JI-LA-0013-0008 | JI-LA-0013-0012 | JI-LA-0013-9000
Aronsson, Laura (New York) show/hide docs
JI-LA-0013-0001 | JI-LA-0013-0002 | JI-LA-0013-0003 | JI-LA-0013-0006 | JI-LA-0013-0008 | JI-LA-0013-0012 | JI-LA-0013-9000
Feierman, Jesica R. (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
JI-LA-0013-0001 | JI-LA-0013-0002 | JI-LA-0013-0003 | JI-LA-0013-0006 | JI-LA-0013-0008 | JI-LA-0013-0012 | JI-LA-0013-9000
Kamran, Mariam (New York) show/hide docs
JI-LA-0013-0002 | JI-LA-0013-0003 | JI-LA-0013-0006 | JI-LA-0013-0008 | JI-LA-0013-0012 | JI-LA-0013-9000
Kumar, Nishi Lal (Louisiana) show/hide docs
JI-LA-0013-0001 | JI-LA-0013-0002 | JI-LA-0013-0003 | JI-LA-0013-0006 | JI-LA-0013-0008 | JI-LA-0013-0012 | JI-LA-0013-9000
Lash, David (California) show/hide docs
JI-LA-0013-0001 | JI-LA-0013-0002 | JI-LA-0013-0003 | JI-LA-0013-0006 | JI-LA-0013-0008 | JI-LA-0013-0012 | JI-LA-0013-9000
Levick, Marsha (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
JI-LA-0013-0001 | JI-LA-0013-0002 | JI-LA-0013-0003 | JI-LA-0013-0006 | JI-LA-0013-0008 | JI-LA-0013-0012 | JI-LA-0013-9000
Lindell, Karen U. (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
JI-LA-0013-0001 | JI-LA-0013-0002 | JI-LA-0013-0003 | JI-LA-0013-0006 | JI-LA-0013-0008 | JI-LA-0013-0012 | JI-LA-0013-9000
Montagnes, Mercedes Hardy (Louisiana) show/hide docs
JI-LA-0013-0001 | JI-LA-0013-0002 | JI-LA-0013-0003 | JI-LA-0013-0006 | JI-LA-0013-0008 | JI-LA-0013-0012 | JI-LA-0013-9000
Pensabene, Lisa (New York) show/hide docs
JI-LA-0013-0001 | JI-LA-0013-0002 | JI-LA-0013-0003 | JI-LA-0013-0006 | JI-LA-0013-0008 | JI-LA-0013-0012 | JI-LA-0013-9000
Ramaswamy, Rebecca R. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
JI-LA-0013-0006 | JI-LA-0013-0008 | JI-LA-0013-0012 | JI-LA-0013-9000
Sarnoff, Stuart M. (New York) show/hide docs
JI-LA-0013-0001 | JI-LA-0013-0002 | JI-LA-0013-0003 | JI-LA-0013-0006 | JI-LA-0013-0008 | JI-LA-0013-0012 | JI-LA-0013-9000
Singer, Benjamin (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
JI-LA-0013-0001 | JI-LA-0013-0002 | JI-LA-0013-0003 | JI-LA-0013-0006 | JI-LA-0013-0008 | JI-LA-0013-0012 | JI-LA-0013-9000
Yan, Jason (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
JI-LA-0013-0001 | JI-LA-0013-0002 | JI-LA-0013-0003 | JI-LA-0013-0006 | JI-LA-0013-0008 | JI-LA-0013-0012 | JI-LA-0013-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Archey, Connell Lee (Louisiana) show/hide docs
JI-LA-0013-0004 | JI-LA-0013-0009 | JI-LA-0013-0010 | JI-LA-0013-0013 | JI-LA-0013-9000
Block, Matthew F (Louisiana) show/hide docs
JI-LA-0013-0007 | JI-LA-0013-0011 | JI-LA-0013-9000
McCain, Allena (Louisiana) show/hide docs
JI-LA-0013-0004 | JI-LA-0013-0009 | JI-LA-0013-0010 | JI-LA-0013-0013 | JI-LA-0013-9000
Miller, Kyle V (Mississippi) show/hide docs
JI-LA-0013-0004 | JI-LA-0013-0009 | JI-LA-0013-0010 | JI-LA-0013-0013 | JI-LA-0013-9000
Montgomery, Lemuel (Mississippi) show/hide docs
JI-LA-0013-0004 | JI-LA-0013-0009 | JI-LA-0013-0010 | JI-LA-0013-0013 | JI-LA-0013-9000
Robert, Randal J. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
JI-LA-0013-0004 | JI-LA-0013-0009 | JI-LA-0013-0010 | JI-LA-0013-0013 | JI-LA-0013-9000
Thomas, William P. (Mississippi) show/hide docs
JI-LA-0013-9000
Walsh, John Charles (Louisiana) show/hide docs
JI-LA-0013-0011 | JI-LA-0013-9000

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