University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Abrams v. Chapman PC-MI-0047
Docket / Court 2:20-cv-11053 ( E.D. Mich. )
State/Territory Michigan
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Special Collection COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Case Summary
COVID-19 Summary: This is a class action brought on behalf of all inmates in the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC), seeking injunctive relief that would require MDOC to adhere to CDC guidelines in light of COVID-19. The plaintiffs sought a temporary restraining order and preliminary ... read more >
COVID-19 Summary: This is a class action brought on behalf of all inmates in the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC), seeking injunctive relief that would require MDOC to adhere to CDC guidelines in light of COVID-19. The plaintiffs sought a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction. However, after a Sixth Circuit decision vacating an injunction in another case, the plaintiffs withdrew their request for preliminary relief and stayed the case, agreeing to dismiss voluntarily unless the Sixth Circuit decision was modified or appealed.

On April 29, 2020, inmates in the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) brought this suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. Represented by the Michigan State Law School Civil Rights Clinic and Private Counsel, the plaintiffs sued MDOC and the wardens of several correctional facilities within MDOC. Suing under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the plaintiffs alleged violations of their Eighth Amendment rights. Specifically, they alleged that MDOC's inadequate response to the COVID-19 pandemic was cruel and unusual punishment. The case was assigned to Judge Mark A. Goldsmith and Magistrate Judge R. Steven Whalen.

The next day, the plaintiffs filed a motion for temporary restraining order, requiring the defendants to take additional precautions to stem the spread of COVID-19 including: social distancing, personal protective equipment, soap and sanitizer, quarantine and isolation for those with symptoms, adequate health care, and testing. The plaintiffs also filed a motion to certify a class that would include "all inmates who currently are, or who in the future will be, incarcerated in the MDOC's custody, at its different prisons, and who are subjected to MDOC's policies and practices regarding COVID-19." This class represented over 37,000 inmates.

On May 4, the plaintiffs filed a motion for temporary restraining order and injunction, requesting the same relief as in the initial motion. The defendants filed a response in objection on May 12.

After the Sixth Circuit's decision in Wilson v. Williams , found here in the Clearinghouse, the parties entered into an agreement. In Williams, the Court of Appeals held that the prison officials had taken reasonable steps to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 and therefore that the Eighth Amendment rights of the inmates had not been violated. In light of this decision, the plaintiffs here agreed to withdraw their motion for TRO and motion to certify the class, and the case was stayed pending any outcome of an appeal in Wilson. The plaintiffs also agreed to dismiss the case if the Wilson decision was not appealed, reversed, or modified.

The case remains ongoing, though there have been no further docket entries following the entry of this stipulation.

Caitlin Kierum - 07/20/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
Defendant-type
Corrections
Jurisdiction-wide
General
Conditions of confinement
Sanitation / living conditions
Totality of conditions
Medical/Mental Health
COVID-19 Mitigation Requested
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Michigan Department of Corrections
Plaintiff Description Putative Class: All inmates who currently are, or who in the future will be, incarcerated in the MDOC's custody, at its different prisons, and who are subjected to MDOC's policies and practices regarding COVID-19
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 04/29/2020
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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Docket(s)
2:20-cv-11053 (E.D. Mich.)
PC-MI-0047-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/12/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Class Certification and for Temporary Restraining Order and Permanent Injunction [ECF# 1]
PC-MI-0047-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/29/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Emergency Motion for Temporary Restraining Order & Injunctive Relief and Brief in Support [ECF# 2]
PC-MI-0047-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/30/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR CLASS CERTIFICATION AND BRIEF IN SUPPORT [ECF# 7 & 7-1 to 7-23]
PC-MI-0047-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/30/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Emergency Motion for Temporary Restraining Order & Injunctive-Relief and Brief in Support [ECF# 22 & 22-1 to 22-40]
PC-MI-0047-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/04/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendants' Response Brief in Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion for Temporary Restraining Order & Injunctive Relief (with Index of Exhibits and Exhibit A to Exhibit M) [ECF# 27 & 27-1 to 27-14]
PC-MI-0047-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/12/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Exhibit N to Exhibit BB [of ecf 27 Defendants' Response Brief in Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion for Temporary Restraining Order & Injunctive Relief] [ECF# 27-15 to 27-29]
PC-MI-0047-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/12/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Reply Brief to Defendants' Response to Plaintiffs' Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 30 & 30-1 to 30-31]
PC-MI-0047-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/18/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Emergency Motions for Expedited Evidentiary Hearing and Brief in Support [ECF# 41]
PC-MI-0047-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/30/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Requiring Response to Emergency Motions (Dkts. 41, 42), Granting Motion for Leave to File Amici Curiae Brief (Dkt. 32), and Granting in Part Defendants' Motion for Leave to File a Sur-Reply (Dkt. 35) [ECF# 44] (E.D. Mich.)
PC-MI-0047-0010.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/01/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendants' Response to Plaintiffs' Emergency Motions (R.41 and R.42) [ECF# 45]
PC-MI-0047-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/02/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Reply to Defendants' Response (R 45) to Plaintiffs' Emergency Motions (R. 41 AND R. 42) [ECF# 46]
PC-MI-0047-0011.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/03/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting in Part Emergency Motion for Expedited Discovery and Expedited Discovery and Expedited Evidentiary Hearing (Dkt. 41), and Denying Emergency Motion to Withdraw Stipulation and Order Requiring Response to Motion for Class Certification [ECF# 47] (E.D. Mich.)
PC-MI-0047-0012.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/03/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Stipulated Order Withdrawing Plaintiffs' Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and/or Preliminary Injunction (Dkt. 22) and Motion to Certify Class (Dkt. 7), and Staying Proceedings [ECF# 55] (E.D. Mich.)
PC-MI-0047-0013.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/11/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Goldsmith, Mark Allan (E.D. Mich.) show/hide docs
PC-MI-0047-0010 | PC-MI-0047-0012 | PC-MI-0047-0013 | PC-MI-0047-9000
Whalen, R. Steven (E.D. Mich.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
PC-MI-0047-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Ernst, Kevin S. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PC-MI-0047-0003 | PC-MI-0047-0006 | PC-MI-0047-0007 | PC-MI-0047-9000
Fielstra, Hannah Rachel (Michigan) show/hide docs
PC-MI-0047-9000
Manville, Daniel E. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PC-MI-0047-0002 | PC-MI-0047-0003 | PC-MI-0047-0006 | PC-MI-0047-0007 | PC-MI-0047-0008 | PC-MI-0047-0009 | PC-MI-0047-0011 | PC-MI-0047-0013 | PC-MI-0047-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Barkman, Cori E. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PC-MI-0047-0001 | PC-MI-0047-0004 | PC-MI-0047-0005 | PC-MI-0047-9000
Heyse, Kristin M. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PC-MI-0047-0001 | PC-MI-0047-0004 | PC-MI-0047-0005 | PC-MI-0047-9000
Mertens, Scott A. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PC-MI-0047-0001 | PC-MI-0047-0004 | PC-MI-0047-0005 | PC-MI-0047-9000
Nessel, Dana M. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PC-MI-0047-0001 | PC-MI-0047-0004 | PC-MI-0047-0005
O'Dowd, Kevin J. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PC-MI-0047-0001 | PC-MI-0047-0004 | PC-MI-0047-0005 | PC-MI-0047-0013 | PC-MI-0047-9000
Soros, Allan J. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PC-MI-0047-0001 | PC-MI-0047-0004 | PC-MI-0047-0005 | PC-MI-0047-9000
Trudgeon, Sara Elizabeth (Michigan) show/hide docs
PC-MI-0047-0001 | PC-MI-0047-0004 | PC-MI-0047-0005 | PC-MI-0047-9000
Zurek, Zachary Austin (Michigan) show/hide docs
PC-MI-0047-0001 | PC-MI-0047-9000
Other Lawyers Nickelhoff, Andrew A. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PC-MI-0047-9000

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