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Case Name Whorley v. Northam PC-VA-0026
Docket / Court 3:20-cv-255 ( E.D. Va. )
State/Territory Virginia
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Special Collection COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
Case Summary
This lawsuit was filed on April 8, 2020 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. The lawsuit was filed amidst the outbreak of COVID-19 that occurred early in 2020. The plaintiffs were twenty-seven inmates held in Virginia state prisons. Represented by the ACLU Foundation of ... read more >
This lawsuit was filed on April 8, 2020 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. The lawsuit was filed amidst the outbreak of COVID-19 that occurred early in 2020. The plaintiffs were twenty-seven inmates held in Virginia state prisons. Represented by the ACLU Foundation of Virginia and private counsel, they sued Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran, the Director of the Virginia Department of Corrections Harold Clarke, and the wardens of twelve different correctional facilities in Virginia. The lawsuit argued that the defendants violated the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution in four ways. First, the defendants placed the inmates in quarters with very limited spacing, making them susceptible to contracting COVID. Second, the defendants did not procure equipment or develop any policies regarding sanitation for the inmates. Third, the defendants did not develop any policies to arrest the spread from prison staff to the inmates. Finally, the plaintiffs argued that the lack of medical supplies and testing for staff and inmates represented a violation of the Eighth Amendment. The plaintiffs sought declaratory relief, injunctive relief, and attorney's fees and costs.

The case was assigned to District Judge Henry E. Hudson.

By May 11, however, it appeared that the parties had worked out a solution. They moved to dismiss the case and enter a settlement agreement. In the settlement agreement, the defendants conceded to a system of early discharge that had been passed in April, of conditional pardons, a grievance system, the suspension of medical co-pays, expansion of PPE and testing, and new housing policies. The agreement was to last until the court decided that it was no longer necessary, determined by the extent of the spread of the coronavirus. The next day, the court entered the agreement.

The defendants filed weekly status reports that updated the court as to their ongoing efforts to detain the spread of the virus and improve hygiene in the detention centers.

On July 2, an inmate submitted a declaration which claimed that the prison was not properly washing the face masks they had given to the inmates, contrary to the terms of the settlement agreement. However, it does not appear that very much came of this.

In the most recent status report as of writing (July 30, 2020), the Virginia Department of Corrections had reviewed 1,000 inmates, approving early release for 778 of them. They had tested 25,976 total inmates.

The case is ongoing as of July 30, 2020.

Jack Hibbard - 07/30/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Defendant-type
Corrections
Jurisdiction-wide
General
Bathing and hygiene
Conditions of confinement
Sanitation / living conditions
Medical/Mental Health
COVID-19 Mitigation Granted
COVID-19 Mitigation Requested
COVID-19 Release Granted
COVID-19 Release Requested
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983
Defendant(s) Director of Virginia Department of Corrections Harold Clarke
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam
Virginia Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran
Plaintiff Description Inmates in Virginia state correctional facilities
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Filed 04/08/2020
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)
  ACLU-VA Reaches Settlement in COVID-19 Lawsuit Against VDOC on Behalf of 27 Individuals
ACLU of Virginia
Date: May 12, 2020
By: ACLU Virginia
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
3:20-cv-00255-HEH-DJN (E.D. Va.)
PC-VA-0026-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/14/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PC-VA-0026-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/08/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Joint Motion to Dismiss and Retain Jurisdiction [ECF# 11 & 11-1]
PC-VA-0026-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/11/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Final Order (2020 WL 2485923) (E.D. Va.)
PC-VA-0026-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 05/12/2020
Source: Bloomberg Law
Status Report [ECF# 34]
PC-VA-0026-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/28/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Hudson, Henry E. (E.D. Va.) show/hide docs
PC-VA-0026-0003 | PC-VA-0026-9000
Novak, David John (E.D. Va.) show/hide docs
PC-VA-0026-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Agraharkar, Vishal Mahendra (Virginia) show/hide docs
PC-VA-0026-0002 | PC-VA-0026-9000
Harding, Elliot Michael (Virginia) show/hide docs
PC-VA-0026-0001 | PC-VA-0026-0002 | PC-VA-0026-9000
Heilman, Eden Brooke (Virginia) show/hide docs
PC-VA-0026-0002 | PC-VA-0026-9000
Safstrom, Jennifer (Virginia) show/hide docs
PC-VA-0026-0002 | PC-VA-0026-9000
Tortoriello, Nicole (Virginia) show/hide docs
PC-VA-0026-0002 | PC-VA-0026-9000
Defendant's Lawyers O'Shea, Margaret Hoehl (Virginia) show/hide docs
PC-VA-0026-0002 | PC-VA-0026-0004 | PC-VA-0026-9000

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