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Case Name Brown v. Marler PC-PA-0049
Docket / Court 2:20-cv-01914-AB ( E.D. Pa. )
State/Territory Pennsylvania
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Prison Conditions
Special Collection COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Attorney Organization Public Interest Law Center (PILCOP)
Case Summary
COVID-19 Summary: This is a class action complaint requesting declaratory and injunctive relief to prevent infection of those confined in Philadelphia’s Federal Detention Center (“FDC”), as well as writs of habeas corpus to achieve temporary release from FDC for the named petitioners and ... read more >
COVID-19 Summary: This is a class action complaint requesting declaratory and injunctive relief to prevent infection of those confined in Philadelphia’s Federal Detention Center (“FDC”), as well as writs of habeas corpus to achieve temporary release from FDC for the named petitioners and other detainees at an elevated risk from COVID-19. No outcome yet.


On April 15, 2020, three inmates filed a class action complaint and petition for writs of habeas corpus in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The petitioners, represented by the Public Interest Law Center and private counsel, sued under 28 U.S.C. § 2241, alleging Fifth and Eighth Amendment violations. Petitioners sought to represent a class consisting of all current and future pretrial detainees, presentenced detainees, and sentenced inmates in custody at Philadelphia's Federal Detention Center ("FDC") during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. The case was assigned to Judge Anita B. Brody.

According to the petition, there were approximately 1,030 people detained at the FDC, the majority being pretrial detainees. While the FDC had halted social and most attorney visitation on March 13, 2020, petitioners alleged that correctional officers came in and out every day without adequate medical screening. Petitioners further alleged that the sporadic use of masks and gloves was insufficient to prevent the spread of the virus, especially because detainees had only limited access to personal hygiene products. The three named petitioners claimed that they were particularly vulnerable because they suffered from underlying conditions that could cause complications if they contracted COVID-19.

Petitioners sought immediate release of vulnerable persons to home confinement, with
appropriate precautionary public health and safety measures, and an order requiring respondent to mitigate the serious risk of illness, death, and harm from
COVID-19 to those who remained confined at the FDC. Additionally, they sought the appointment of a Special Master to chair a Coronavirus Release Committee, which would make recommendations on release decisions and mitigation of prison conditions.

The Bureau of Prisons, which runs FDC, filed a motion to dismiss on April 20, 2020, claiming that the court did not have subject-matter jurisdiction over pretrial detainees to entertain the petition and that the petition was meritless. The court authorized the petitioners to engage in limited jurisdictional discovery, which did not include an on-site inspection, to evaluate whether “extraordinary circumstances” justified exercising habeas jurisdiction over the pretrial detainees at the FDC. 2020 WL 1975064.

On May 2, 2020, in light of respondent’s letters stating that FDC staff members had tested positive for COVID-19, Judge Brody entered an order requiring that similar updates be immediately docketed. On May 14, 2020, Judge Brody ordered that if respondent learned that any inmate or staff member had tested positive for COVID-19, respondent had to immediately report that fact to the court.

This case is ongoing.

Elena Malik - 07/17/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Bathing and hygiene
Conditions of confinement
Sanitation / living conditions
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Totality of conditions
Medical/Mental Health
COVID-19 Mitigation Requested
COVID-19 Release Requested
Medical care, general
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Special Case Type
Habeas
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Ex parte Young (federal or state officials)
Habeas Corpus, 28 U.S.C. §§ 2241-2253; 2254; 2255
Defendant(s) Warden of the Federal Detention Center in Philadelphia
Plaintiff Description All current and future pretrial detainees, presentenced detainees, and sentenced inmates in custody at the FDC during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Public Interest Law Center (PILCOP)
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 04/15/2020
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)
Docket(s)
2:20-cv-1914 (E.D. Pa.)
PC-PA-0049-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/28/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PC-PA-0049-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/15/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Respondent’s Motion to Dismiss the Petition and Class Action Complaint [ECF# 12 (& 12-1 to 12-7)]
PC-PA-0049-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/20/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Petitioners' Brief in Opposition to Respondent's Motion to Dismiss the Petition and Class Action Complaint [ECF# 17]
PC-PA-0049-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/21/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum [ECF# 20] (2020 WL 1975064) (E.D. Pa.)
PC-PA-0049-0002.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 04/24/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Brody, Anita Blumstein (E.D. Pa.) show/hide docs
PC-PA-0049-0002 | PC-PA-0049-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Davy, James (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
PC-PA-0049-0001 | PC-PA-0049-0004 | PC-PA-0049-9000
Geffen, Benjamin D. (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
PC-PA-0049-0001 | PC-PA-0049-0004 | PC-PA-0049-9000
Hoffa, Linda Dale (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
PC-PA-0049-0001 | PC-PA-0049-0004 | PC-PA-0049-9000
Mckenzie, Mary M. (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
PC-PA-0049-0001 | PC-PA-0049-0004 | PC-PA-0049-9000
Persico, Margaret Spitzer (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
PC-PA-0049-0004
Defendant's Lawyers Becker, Susan R. (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
PC-PA-0049-0003
David, Gregory B. (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
PC-PA-0049-0003 | PC-PA-0049-9000
Jones, Landon Y. (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
PC-PA-0049-0003 | PC-PA-0049-9000
McSwain, William M. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-PA-0049-0003
Melley, Rebecca S. (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
PC-PA-0049-0003 | PC-PA-0049-9000
Zauzmer, Robert A. (Pennsylvania) show/hide docs
PC-PA-0049-0003 | PC-PA-0049-9000

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