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Case Name Belton, Jr. v. East Baton Rouge Parish Prison JC-LA-0030
Docket / Court 3:20-cv-00278 ( M.D. La. )
State/Territory Louisiana
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Prison Conditions
Special Collection COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Attorney Organization Advancement Project
Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR)
Case Summary
COVID-19 Summary: This is a class action filed by inmates in the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison, seeking the release of medically vulnerable people and appropriate hygiene and social distancing measures for those still in the facility. The court denied to enter a temporary restraining order on July ... read more >
COVID-19 Summary: This is a class action filed by inmates in the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison, seeking the release of medically vulnerable people and appropriate hygiene and social distancing measures for those still in the facility. The court denied to enter a temporary restraining order on July 3; the case remains ongoing.


On May 5, 2020, an incarcerated person in the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison filed this pro se action in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama via a letter that outlined the conditions in the facility and medical concerns related to COVID-19. On May 27, now represented by the Fair Fight Initiative, the Advancement Project National, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and private counsel, the plaintiff filed an amended complaint. In the new complaint, the plaintiffs sued the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison and the City of Baton Rouge under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and the federal habeas statute, 28 U.S.C. § 2241, alleging violations of their Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Specifically, they alleged that their continued detention in unsafe conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic was a violation of their rights, requesting the release of certain vulnerable individuals, as well as improved hygiene and social distancing measures. The case was assigned to Judge Brian A. Jackson and referred to Magistrate Judge Scott D. Johnson.

The plaintiffs asserted that, as of May 14, "[t]here have been at least 93 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the EBRPP . . . but the jail’s lack of meaningful testing leaves no doubt that this number is grossly undercounted." Moreover, the plaintiffs contended that "the jail has chosen to warehouse detainees who test positive for or exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 in a building that has been condemned since 2018."

That same day, the plaintiffs filed a motion to certify the class, seeking to represent all those who were, or would be, held at the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison, as well as the following subclasses: the "Pretrial Subclass," which contained all those who were currently held in the facility who had not yet been convicted; the "Post-Conviction Subclass," which contained all those who had been sentenced; the "Medically Vulnerable Subclass," which included all those who were over the age of 65, or who were particularly at risk due to an underlying medical condition.

On May 28, the plaintiffs filed an emergency motion for temporary restraining order, requesting the release of all those in the Medically Vulnerable Subclass.

On June 5, both defendants filed motions opposing the temporary restraining order; these motions were refiled on June 8 due to filing errors.

On July 3, Judge Jackson denied the motion for temporary restraining order, stating that while the plaintiffs were requesting habeas relief, they were actually seeking remedy for constitutionally deficient conditions under the Eighth Amendment. Furthermore, Judge Jackson found that it was "unlikely that Petitioners could establish a claim of subjective deliberate indifference," because of the measures the defendants had taken to protect inmates from COVID-19.

The defendants filed a motion to dismiss on July 28, arguing that the plaintiffs did not have standing (due to the named plaintiff and others no longer being incarcerated), that they had failed to exhaust available remedies, and that they could not show a pervasive pattern of serious deficiencies in providing for their basic needs. On August 18, the plaintiffs responded, arguing that they had standing to bring their claims, and that they had brought claims under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments.

The city defendants filed a motion to dismiss on October 23; the case remains ongoing.

The case is ongoing.

Caitlin Kierum - 10/26/2020


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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
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Bathing and hygiene
Conditions of confinement
Totality of conditions
Medical/Mental Health
COVID-19 Mitigation Requested
COVID-19 Release Denied
COVID-19 Release Requested
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Special Case Type
Habeas
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) Baton Rouge
East Baton Rouge Parish Prison
Plaintiff Description Inmates in the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison, on behalf of all persons who are or will be held at the facility
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Advancement Project
Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR)
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 05/04/2020
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)
  Belton v. Gautreaux
https://ccrjustice.org/
Date: May 28, 2020
By: Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
3:20-cv-00278 (M.D. La.)
JC-LA-0030-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/11/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
JC-LA-0030-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/04/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amended Class Action Complaint [ECF# 4, 4-2, 4-3, 4-10, 4-16, 4-17, 4-21, 4-22, 4-24 to 4-26, 4-28]
JC-LA-0030-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/27/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum in Support of Plaintiffs' Emergency Motion for Temporary Restraining Order [ECF# 5-3]
JC-LA-0030-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/27/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification [ECF# 8 (& 8-1 to 8-8)]
JC-LA-0030-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/27/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Emergency Motion for Temporary Restraining Order [ECF# 21, 21-1, 21-4 to 21-13]
JC-LA-0030-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/28/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum in Opposition to Plaintiffs' Emergency Motion for Temporary Restraining Order [ECF# 38]
JC-LA-0030-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/05/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum in Opposition to Plaintiffs' Emergency Motion for Temporary Restraining Order [ECF# 47]
JC-LA-0030-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/05/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Petitioners' Reply to Respondents' Opposition to Emergency Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order [ECF# 67]
JC-LA-0030-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/09/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Ruling and Order [ECF# 90] (2020 WL 3629583) (M.D. La.)
JC-LA-0030-0011.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 07/03/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum in Support of Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Rule 12(b) [ECF# 92-1]
JC-LA-0030-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/28/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Response in Opposition to Sheriff Sid J. Gautreaux, III, and LT. Colonel Dennis Grimes's Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 99]
JC-LA-0030-0010.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/18/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Jackson, Brian Anthony (M.D. La.) show/hide docs
JC-LA-0030-0011 | JC-LA-0030-9000
Johnson, Scott D. Court not on record [Magistrate] show/hide docs
JC-LA-0030-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Azmy, Baher (New York) show/hide docs
JC-LA-0030-0002 | JC-LA-0030-0003 | JC-LA-0030-0004 | JC-LA-0030-0006 | JC-LA-0030-0010 | JC-LA-0030-9000
Bastian, David (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
JC-LA-0030-0010 | JC-LA-0030-9000
Bigby, Jessica B (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
JC-LA-0030-0010
Claiborne, William Charles III (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
JC-LA-0030-0002 | JC-LA-0030-0003 | JC-LA-0030-0004 | JC-LA-0030-0006 | JC-LA-0030-0007 | JC-LA-0030-0010 | JC-LA-0030-9000
Farah, Omar (New York) show/hide docs
JC-LA-0030-0002 | JC-LA-0030-0003 | JC-LA-0030-0004 | JC-LA-0030-0006 | JC-LA-0030-0010 | JC-LA-0030-9000
Hardy, Lillian S. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
JC-LA-0030-0002 | JC-LA-0030-0003 | JC-LA-0030-0004 | JC-LA-0030-0006 | JC-LA-0030-0007 | JC-LA-0030-0010 | JC-LA-0030-9000
Harvey, Thomas B (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
JC-LA-0030-0002 | JC-LA-0030-0003 | JC-LA-0030-0004 | JC-LA-0030-0006 | JC-LA-0030-0007 | JC-LA-0030-0010 | JC-LA-0030-9000
Nemeth, Miriam R. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
JC-LA-0030-0002 | JC-LA-0030-0003 | JC-LA-0030-0004 | JC-LA-0030-0006 | JC-LA-0030-0007 | JC-LA-0030-0010 | JC-LA-0030-9000
Quigley, William Patrick (Louisiana) show/hide docs
JC-LA-0030-0002 | JC-LA-0030-0003 | JC-LA-0030-0004 | JC-LA-0030-0006 | JC-LA-0030-0007 | JC-LA-0030-0010 | JC-LA-0030-9000
Thomas, Brittany (New York) show/hide docs
JC-LA-0030-0002 | JC-LA-0030-0003 | JC-LA-0030-0004 | JC-LA-0030-0006 | JC-LA-0030-0010 | JC-LA-0030-9000
Toll, Robert L (New York) show/hide docs
JC-LA-0030-0007 | JC-LA-0030-0010 | JC-LA-0030-9000
Utter, David J. (Georgia) show/hide docs
JC-LA-0030-0002 | JC-LA-0030-0003 | JC-LA-0030-0004 | JC-LA-0030-0006 | JC-LA-0030-0007 | JC-LA-0030-0010 | JC-LA-0030-9000
Yang, Tiffany S. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
JC-LA-0030-0002 | JC-LA-0030-0003 | JC-LA-0030-0004 | JC-LA-0030-0006 | JC-LA-0030-0007 | JC-LA-0030-0010 | JC-LA-0030-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Abadie, Rachel Marie (Louisiana) show/hide docs
JC-LA-0030-0008 | JC-LA-0030-0009 | JC-LA-0030-9000
Dotson, Anderson O III (Louisiana) show/hide docs
JC-LA-0030-9000
Erlingson, Mary G. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
JC-LA-0030-0008 | JC-LA-0030-0009 | JC-LA-0030-9000
Humphrey, Courtney King (Louisiana) show/hide docs
JC-LA-0030-0005 | JC-LA-0030-9000
Monsour, Sarah Shannahan (Louisiana) show/hide docs
JC-LA-0030-0005 | JC-LA-0030-9000
Schillage, Michael Paul (Louisiana) show/hide docs
JC-LA-0030-0005 | JC-LA-0030-9000
St. Pierre, Catherine S. (Louisiana) show/hide docs
JC-LA-0030-0008 | JC-LA-0030-0009 | JC-LA-0030-9000
Other Lawyers Boyd, Nicholas R (Georgia) show/hide docs
JC-LA-0030-9000
Daniel, Laurie Webb (Georgia) show/hide docs
JC-LA-0030-9000
Reagin, Patrick Blair (Georgia) show/hide docs
JC-LA-0030-9000

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