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Case Name Busby v. Bonner JC-TN-0012
Docket / Court 2:20-cv-02359 ( W.D. Tenn. )
State/Territory Tennessee
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Special Collection COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU National (all projects)
Case Summary
COVID-19 Summary: This is a habeas action filed by individuals in the Shelby County Jail, alleging that their underlying medical conditions made them especially vulnerable to COVID-19. They brought constitutional claims under the Fourteenth Amendment, as well as claims of violations of the ADA and ... read more >
COVID-19 Summary: This is a habeas action filed by individuals in the Shelby County Jail, alleging that their underlying medical conditions made them especially vulnerable to COVID-19. They brought constitutional claims under the Fourteenth Amendment, as well as claims of violations of the ADA and Rehabilitation act, requesting release. On June 10, the court granted class certification and appointed an independent monitor to determine whether a TRO should be granted.


Plaintiffs filed this petition for writ of habeas corpus on May 20, 2020 against Shelby County Sheriff's Office in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee. Plaintiffs were two individuals with medical conditions that rendered them especially vulnerable to COVID-19, and they sought to represent a class of people detained in Shelby County Jail who were disabled or medically vulnerable to the illness. Represented by lawyers from the ACLU as well as private counsel, they brought a habeas action, alleging two violations of the Fourteenth Amendment, as well as a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and a violation of the Rehabilitation Act. Specifically, they alleged that unsafe conditions in the jail, in particular being held in close proximity with other potentially sick people, represented a punishment against pretrial detainees. The second allegation claimed that the unsafe conditions in the jail were a failure of the jail to provide reasonable safety, even if inmates were not pretrial. The third allegation claimed that defendants were violating the ADA because they did not make reasonable modifications to their policies to avoid discriminating against inmates with disabilities, since inmates with disabilities are particularly likely to be affected by COVID. Under a similar theory, the fourth allegation claims that defendants violated Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act by not making reasonable modifications. Judge Sheryl H. Lipman was assigned the case.

Simultaneously with the initial petition, the plaintiffs sought class certification, a temporary restraining order (TRO) or writ of habeas corpus that would immediately release the named plaintiffs, and a TRO, preliminary injunction, permanent injunction and/or writ of habeas corpus that would create a process by which class members could be released. Plaintiffs filed a motion to expedite the TRO and preliminary injunction.

The following day, Judge Lipman granted the motion to expedite the TRO and preliminary injunction, instructing defendants to file a response by May 26. Defendants did so, filing a motion to dismiss, a response in opposition to the motion for class certification, and a response in opposition to the motion for a temporary restraining order. Their responses claimed that they actually had a thorough process for dealing with COVID-19 and that they were making their own efforts to decrease the population of the jail.

By June 10, Judge Lipman issued an order denying defendant's motion for dismissal and denying in part and granting in part plaintiffs’ motion for class certification. The court granted the class certification, but narrowed its scope, claiming that the original motion sought to include too many people in its definition. Two days later, Judge Lipman addressed the motion for a temporary restraining order. The court held the motion in abeyance, because the parties had presented conflicting facts. Therefore, she ordered that an Independent Inspector, and scheduled a hearing from the Inspector for June 30, 2020.

A few days later, plaintiffs submitted an amended complaint which added two more named plaintiffs, but left the underlying claims more or less the same.

Meanwhile, by June 18 the parties had settled on an Independent Inspector to visit the jail. They chose Michael K. Brady to inspect the jail and provide testimony as to whether the temporary restraining order should be granted.

Plaintiffs also submitted a motion for expedited discovery, which the court granted in part and limited in part. Judge Lipman said that plaintiffs had good cause for expedited discovery, but that the discovery must pertain to the jail and that they could only use an expert to inspect the jail if the expert was not accompanied by counsel. She also scheduled a hearing for the Independent Inspector for July 1 and a hearing for the temporary restraining order for July 10.

The Independent Inspector's report said that, while the jail was run by "consummate professionals," it still needed to make several adjustments to ensure the safety of its inmates.

On June 30, defendants submitted another motion to dismiss, this time targeting plaintiffs’ amended petition for writ of habeas corpus. Plaintiffs were given until July 15 to respond.

The July 10 hearing on the temporary restraining order took place, but was not finished, so they reconvened on July 13.

The case is ongoing as of July 15, 2020.

Jack Hibbard - 07/15/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Due Process: Substantive Due Process
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
Post-PLRA Population Cap
Defendant-type
Corrections
Disability
disability, unspecified
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Conditions of confinement
Sanitation / living conditions
Medical/Mental Health
COVID-19 Release Requested
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Special Case Type
Habeas
Causes of Action Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
Habeas Corpus, 28 U.S.C. §§ 2241-2253; 2254; 2255
Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701
Defendant(s) Shelby County Sheriff
Plaintiff Description Four named plaintiffs and the class of people vulnerable to COVID-19 in Shelby County Jail in Tennessee
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU National (all projects)
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filed 05/20/2020
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)
  Busby v. Bonner
aclu.org
Date: Jun. 17, 2020
By: American Civil Liberties Union
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
2:20-cv-02359 (W.D. Tenn.)
JC-TN-0012-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/15/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241 and Class Action Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 1]
JC-TN-0012-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/20/2020
Source: ACLU
Petitioners-Plaintiffs' Motion for Temporary Restraining Order [ECF# 2 (& 2-1 to 2-8)]
JC-TN-0012-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/20/2020
Source: ACLU
Respondents-Defendants' Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 25 & 25-1]
JC-TN-0012-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/26/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Respondents-Defendants' Response in Opposition to Petitioners-Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification [ECF# 26]
JC-TN-0012-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/26/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Respondents-Defendants’ Response in Opposition to Petitioners-Plaintiffs’ Motion for Temporary Restraining Order [ECF# 27-1]
JC-TN-0012-0013.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/26/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Respondents-Defendants’ Response in Opposition to Petitioners-Plaintiffs’ Motion for Temporary Restraining Order [ECF# 27 (& 27-2 to 27-6)]
JC-TN-0012-0014.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/26/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Petitioners-Plaintiffs' Brief in Opposition to Respondents-Defendants' Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 35 (& 35-1 to 35-5)]
JC-TN-0012-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/29/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Respondents-Defendants' Reply to Petitioners-Plaintiffs' Response in Opposition to Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 37]
JC-TN-0012-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/04/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Denying Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss and Granting in Part and Denying in Part Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification [ECF# 38] (2020 WL 3108713) (W.D. Tenn.)
JC-TN-0012-0007.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 06/10/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Addressing Motion for Temporary Restraining Order [ECF# 45] (W.D. Tenn.)
JC-TN-0012-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/12/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Amended Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus Pursuant to 28 U.S.C § 2241 and Class Action Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 50]
JC-TN-0012-0015.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/16/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Inspection Order [ECF# 56] (W.D. Tenn.)
JC-TN-0012-0016.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/18/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Motion for Expediting Discovery [ECF# 57]
JC-TN-0012-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/19/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Respondents-Defendant's Response in Opposition to Petitioners-Plaintiffs' Motion for Expedited Discovery [ECF# 64]
JC-TN-0012-0010.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/22/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting in Part and Limiting in Part Plaintiffs' Motion for Expedited Disocovery [ECF# 69] (W.D. Tenn.)
JC-TN-0012-0011.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/23/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Covid-19 Inspection of the Shelby County Men’s Jail at 201 Poplar Avenue, Memphis TN 38103 Final Report [ECF# 76]
JC-TN-0012-0017.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/30/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Respondents-Defendants' Motion to Dismiss First Amended Petition [ECF# 78 (& 78-1 to 78-4)]
JC-TN-0012-0012.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/30/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Lipman, Sheryl Halle (W.D. Tenn.) show/hide docs
JC-TN-0012-0007 | JC-TN-0012-0008 | JC-TN-0012-0011 | JC-TN-0012-0016 | JC-TN-0012-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bial, Joseph (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
JC-TN-0012-0001 | JC-TN-0012-0002 | JC-TN-0012-0005 | JC-TN-0012-0009 | JC-TN-0012-0015
Borner, Meredith (New York) show/hide docs
JC-TN-0012-9000
Brennan-Krohn, Zoe (California) show/hide docs
JC-TN-0012-0001 | JC-TN-0012-0002 | JC-TN-0012-0005 | JC-TN-0012-0009 | JC-TN-0012-0015 | JC-TN-0012-9000
Castelli, Thomas H. (Tennessee) show/hide docs
JC-TN-0012-0001 | JC-TN-0012-0002 | JC-TN-0012-0005 | JC-TN-0012-0009 | JC-TN-0012-0015 | JC-TN-0012-9000
Dozier, Wesley (Tennessee) show/hide docs
JC-TN-0012-0001 | JC-TN-0012-0002 | JC-TN-0012-0005 | JC-TN-0012-0009
Johnson, Darren W. (New York) show/hide docs
JC-TN-0012-0001 | JC-TN-0012-0002 | JC-TN-0012-0005 | JC-TN-0012-0009 | JC-TN-0012-0015
Kimball-Stanley, David C. (New York) show/hide docs
JC-TN-0012-0001 | JC-TN-0012-0002 | JC-TN-0012-0005 | JC-TN-0012-0009 | JC-TN-0012-0015
Lee, Adrienne (New York) show/hide docs
JC-TN-0012-0001 | JC-TN-0012-0002 | JC-TN-0012-0005 | JC-TN-0012-0009 | JC-TN-0012-0015
Mathai, Amreeta (New York) show/hide docs
JC-TN-0012-0001 | JC-TN-0012-0002 | JC-TN-0012-0005 | JC-TN-0012-0009 | JC-TN-0012-0015 | JC-TN-0012-9000
Medjuck, Avery (New York) show/hide docs
JC-TN-0012-0001 | JC-TN-0012-0002 | JC-TN-0012-0005 | JC-TN-0012-0009
Morris, Maria (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
JC-TN-0012-0001 | JC-TN-0012-0002 | JC-TN-0012-0005 | JC-TN-0012-0009 | JC-TN-0012-0015 | JC-TN-0012-9000
Mulroy, Steven John (Tennessee) show/hide docs
JC-TN-0012-0001 | JC-TN-0012-0002 | JC-TN-0012-0005 | JC-TN-0012-0009 | JC-TN-0012-0015
Robinson, Jeffery (New York) show/hide docs
JC-TN-0012-9000
Robinson, Edward (New York) show/hide docs
JC-TN-0012-9000
Silberstein-Loeb, Jonathan M (New York) show/hide docs
JC-TN-0012-0001 | JC-TN-0012-0002 | JC-TN-0012-0005 | JC-TN-0012-0009 | JC-TN-0012-0015 | JC-TN-0012-9000
Spickler, Josh (Tennessee) show/hide docs
JC-TN-0012-0001 | JC-TN-0012-0002 | JC-TN-0012-0005 | JC-TN-0012-0009 | JC-TN-0012-0015 | JC-TN-0012-9000
Timmons, Brice Moffatt (Tennessee) show/hide docs
JC-TN-0012-0001 | JC-TN-0012-0002 | JC-TN-0012-0005 | JC-TN-0012-0009 | JC-TN-0012-0015 | JC-TN-0012-9000
Woods, Andrea (New York) show/hide docs
JC-TN-0012-0001 | JC-TN-0012-0002 | JC-TN-0012-0005 | JC-TN-0012-0009 | JC-TN-0012-0015 | JC-TN-0012-9000
Yarbrough, Stella Marie (Tennessee) show/hide docs
JC-TN-0012-0001 | JC-TN-0012-0002 | JC-TN-0012-0005 | JC-TN-0012-0009 | JC-TN-0012-0015 | JC-TN-0012-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Iverson, Marlinee (Tennessee) show/hide docs
JC-TN-0012-0003 | JC-TN-0012-0004 | JC-TN-0012-0006 | JC-TN-0012-0010 | JC-TN-0012-0012 | JC-TN-0012-0014 | JC-TN-0012-9000
Pentecost, James I. (Tennessee) show/hide docs
JC-TN-0012-0003 | JC-TN-0012-0004 | JC-TN-0012-0006 | JC-TN-0012-0010 | JC-TN-0012-0012 | JC-TN-0012-0014 | JC-TN-0012-9000
Stigger, Bridgett L (Tennessee) show/hide docs
JC-TN-0012-0003 | JC-TN-0012-0004 | JC-TN-0012-0006 | JC-TN-0012-0010 | JC-TN-0012-0012 | JC-TN-0012-0014 | JC-TN-0012-9000
Stokes, J Austin (Tennessee) show/hide docs
JC-TN-0012-0003 | JC-TN-0012-0004 | JC-TN-0012-0006 | JC-TN-0012-0010 | JC-TN-0012-0012 | JC-TN-0012-0014 | JC-TN-0012-9000
Tilly, Nathan Daniel (Tennessee) show/hide docs
JC-TN-0012-0003 | JC-TN-0012-0004 | JC-TN-0012-0006 | JC-TN-0012-0010 | JC-TN-0012-0012 | JC-TN-0012-0014 | JC-TN-0012-9000
Other Lawyers Goode, Janet (Tennessee) show/hide docs
JC-TN-0012-9000

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