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Case Name Costa v. Bazron MH-DC-0005
Docket / Court 1:19-cv-03185 ( D.D.C. )
State/Territory District of Columbia
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Mental Health (Facility)
Special Collection COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
Washington Lawyers' Committee
Case Summary
COVID-19 Summary: This is an ongoing case to secure sanitary water in a psychiatric hospital in which the plaintiffs filed additional motions for temporary restraining orders in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, requesting release and mitigation measures including: adequate mental health care, social ... read more >
COVID-19 Summary: This is an ongoing case to secure sanitary water in a psychiatric hospital in which the plaintiffs filed additional motions for temporary restraining orders in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, requesting release and mitigation measures including: adequate mental health care, social distancing, and hygiene products. The court granted a TRO on April 25 and a preliminary injunction on May 24, ordering the defendants to isolate patients exposed to the virus and to conduct testing throughout the facility to determine the spread of COVID-19 among staff and patients.

On October 23, 2019, four individuals at Saint Elizabeths Hospital, a psychiatric hospital in D.C., filed this action in the U.S. District Court for the District of D.C. on behalf of themselves and all other patients at the hospital. Represented by the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of the D.C., Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights & Urban Affairs, and private counsel, the plaintiffs sued the District of Columbia and Saint Elizabeths Hospital. Plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 28 U.S.C. § 2201, alleging violations of their Fifth Amendment Due Process rights, and violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. § 12131. Specifically, the plaintiffs alleged that Saint Elizabeths had not had safe, running water since at least September 26, 2019, the date the water supply was completely turned off - this prohibited patients and staff from routinely flushing toilets, washing their hands, showering, drinking water from water fountains, and washing their clothing. The case was initially assigned to Judge Christopher R. Cooper, but randomly reassigned to Judge. Randolph D. Moss on October 30, 2019.

The defendants filed a motion to dismiss on December 16, 2019, arguing that the plaintiffs had failed to state a Due Process or ADA claim, and that the hospital officials were entitled to qualified immunity.

On January 21, 2020, the plaintiffs filed a motion to certify the class, seeking to represent "all current and future Saint Elizabeths Hospital patients."

On April 16, the plaintiffs filed a motion to amend their complaint in light of COVID-19, adding a petition for writ of habeas corpus. They alleged that although the defendants had turned the water back on in October 2019, they were continuing their pattern of fostering conditions that exacerbated the dangers to their patients by failing to take adequate steps to protect their patients from COVID-19. Plaintiffs also asserted that, as of April 15, four patients had died of COVID-19 and that "32 patients and 47 staff at the Hospital have tested positive for COVID-19." The motion was granted on April 22. 2020 WL 1935524.

The plaintiffs filed motion for temporary restraining order on April 18, requesting the court order the defendants to reduce the population, both by halting admission to the hospital and releasing current patients, and to develop COVID-19 mitigation measures including testing, hygiene products, social distancing, educational programming, and daily reporting. The defendants filed a motion in opposition on April 21.

On April 25, Judge Moss granted in part the plaintiff's motion for temporary restraining order, ordering the defendants to isolate individuals exposed to COVID-19, conduct clinical evaluations prior to releasing individuals from isolation, and produce bi-weekly reports of compliance with the order. 2020 WL 2025701. Following a status conference, this order was extended until May 11.

On May 11, Judge Moss extended and expanded the temporary restraining order, additionally requiring defendants to complete and report the results of two baseline point prevalence survey to determine the spread of COVID-19 among staff and residents at the facility, and to assign staff to only one unit per day. 2020 WL 2410502.

On May 14, the plaintiffs filed a motion for preliminary injunction, requesting the incorporation of the current restraining order into an injunction, a reduction of the number of patients in the facility, appropriate mental health care, appoint an independent monitor, and reporting. The defendants filed a motion in opposition on May 19.

The court granted the plaintiffs' motion in part on May 24, converting the requirements of the temporary restraining order into a preliminary injunction and requiring the defendants to file a status report by June 8 detailing plans for further mitigation measures in the facility. The court denied the plaintiffs' motion in all other respects. 2020 WL 2735666.

The case is ongoing.

Caitlin Kierum - 06/04/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Due Process: Substantive Due Process
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Recordkeeping
Reporting
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
Defendant-type
Hospital/Health Department
Disability
Mental impairment
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Bathing and hygiene
Conditions of confinement
Housing
Staff (number, training, qualifications, wages)
Medical/Mental Health
COVID-19 Mitigation Granted
COVID-19 Mitigation Requested
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
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
Defendant(s) District of Columbia
Saint Elizabeths Hospital
Plaintiff Description Patients in the Saint Elizabeths Hospital, an inpatient mental health facility
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
Washington Lawyers' Committee
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Pending
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Source of Relief Litigation
Order Duration 2020 - n/a
Filed 10/23/2019
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)
  Costa v. Bazron - Challenging Conditions at St. Elizabeths Hospital During Month-Long Water OUtage and COVID-19 Crisis
ACLU District of Columbia
Date: October 23, 2019
By: ACLU District of Columbia
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
1:19-cv-03185-RDM (D.D.C.)
MH-DC-0005-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/12/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
MH-DC-0005-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/23/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification [ECF# 30]
MH-DC-0005-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/21/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order [ECF# 39 (& 39-1 to 39-12)]
MH-DC-0005-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/18/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendants' Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order [ECF# 42 (& 42-1 to 42-6)]
MH-DC-0005-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/21/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Order [ECF# 48] (2020 WL 1935524) (D.D.C.)
MH-DC-0005-0005.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 04/22/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Amended Class Action Complaint and Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus [ECF# 50]
MH-DC-0005-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/22/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order and Memorandum Opinion [ECF# 60 & 59] (2020 WL 2025701) (D.D.C.)
MH-DC-0005-0007.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 04/25/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order and Memorandum Order [ECF# 83 & 82] (2020 WL 2410502) (D.D.C.)
MH-DC-0005-0008.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 05/11/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Memorandum of Law in Support of Their Motion for a Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 87 (& 87-1 to 87-9)]
MH-DC-0005-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/14/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order and Memorandum Opinion [ECF# 96 & 95] (2020 WL 2735666) (D.D.C.)
MH-DC-0005-0010.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 05/24/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Moss, Randolph Daniel (D.D.C.) show/hide docs
MH-DC-0005-0005 | MH-DC-0005-0007 | MH-DC-0005-0008 | MH-DC-0005-0010 | MH-DC-0005-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Banner, Stuart (California) show/hide docs
MH-DC-0005-0001 | MH-DC-0005-0002 | MH-DC-0005-0003 | MH-DC-0005-0006 | MH-DC-0005-0009 | MH-DC-0005-9000
Freedman, John A. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
MH-DC-0005-0001 | MH-DC-0005-0002 | MH-DC-0005-0003 | MH-DC-0005-0006 | MH-DC-0005-0009 | MH-DC-0005-9000
Hart, Margaret (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
MH-DC-0005-0001 | MH-DC-0005-0002 | MH-DC-0005-0003 | MH-DC-0005-0006 | MH-DC-0005-0009 | MH-DC-0005-9000
Lieberman, Hannah E. M. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
MH-DC-0005-0001 | MH-DC-0005-0002 | MH-DC-0005-0003 | MH-DC-0005-0006 | MH-DC-0005-0009
Lollar, Tirzah S. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
MH-DC-0005-0001 | MH-DC-0005-0002 | MH-DC-0005-0003 | MH-DC-0005-0006 | MH-DC-0005-0009 | MH-DC-0005-9000
Michelman, Scott (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
MH-DC-0005-0001 | MH-DC-0005-0002 | MH-DC-0005-0003 | MH-DC-0005-0006 | MH-DC-0005-0009 | MH-DC-0005-9000
Morris, Maria (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
MH-DC-0005-0001 | MH-DC-0005-0002
Perloff, Michael Krevans (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
MH-DC-0005-0001 | MH-DC-0005-0002 | MH-DC-0005-0003 | MH-DC-0005-0006 | MH-DC-0005-0009 | MH-DC-0005-9000
Reeder, Emily Anne (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
MH-DC-0005-0001
Smith, Jonathan Mark (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
MH-DC-0005-0001 | MH-DC-0005-0002 | MH-DC-0005-0003 | MH-DC-0005-0006 | MH-DC-0005-0009
Spitzer, Arthur (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
MH-DC-0005-0001 | MH-DC-0005-0002 | MH-DC-0005-0003 | MH-DC-0005-0006 | MH-DC-0005-0009 | MH-DC-0005-9000
Vaca, Brian A. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
MH-DC-0005-0002 | MH-DC-0005-0003 | MH-DC-0005-0006 | MH-DC-0005-0009
Defendant's Lawyers Amarillas, Fernando (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
MH-DC-0005-0004
Bluming, Micah Ian (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
MH-DC-0005-0004 | MH-DC-0005-9000
DeBerardinis, Robert A. Jr. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
MH-DC-0005-9000
Jackson, Toni Michelle (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
MH-DC-0005-0004
Morton, Honey (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
MH-DC-0005-0004 | MH-DC-0005-9000
Palmer, Gavin Noyes (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
MH-DC-0005-9000
Racine, Karl A. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
MH-DC-0005-0004

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