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 prisoners of the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC), seeking preliminary and permanent injunctive relief that would require MDOC to adhere to CDC COVID-19 guidelines. However, after the Sixth Circuit vacated a similar ... read more >
COVID-19 Summary: This is a class action brought on behalf of all prisoners of the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC), seeking preliminary and permanent injunctive relief that would require MDOC to adhere to CDC COVID-19 guidelines. However, after the Sixth Circuit vacated a similar injunction in another case, the plaintiffs agreed to dismiss this case.


On April 29, 2020, prisoners of 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 MDOC facilities. Suing under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the plaintiffs alleged violations of their Eighth Amendment rights. Specifically, they claimed that MDOC's inadequate response to the COVID-19 pandemic constituted 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 a temporary restraining order requiring the defendants to take additional precautions against 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 individuals.

On May 4, the plaintiffs moved for a permanent injunction as well as a temporary restraining order, seeking the same relief as they did in the initial motion. The defendants filed a response 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 federal prison officials had taken reasonable steps to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 and, therefore, the Eighth Amendment rights of the prisoners in that case had not been violated. In light of this decision, the plaintiffs here agreed to withdraw their motion for a temporary restraining order 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 Wilson decision stood. So, on October 20, 2020, the court entered a stipulated order dismissing this case, which is now closed.

Caitlin Kierum - 07/20/2020
Timothy Leake - 10/20/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
COVID-19
Mitigation Requested
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Bathing and hygiene
Conditions of confinement
Sanitation / living conditions
Totality of conditions
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
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 Not sought
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Filed 04/29/2020
Case Closing Year 2020
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Court Docket(s)
E.D. Mich.
10/20/2020
2:20-cv-11053
PC-MI-0047-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
E.D. Mich.
04/29/2020
Complaint for Class Certification and for Temporary Restraining Order and Permanent Injunction [ECF# 1]
PC-MI-0047-0007.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Mich.
04/30/2020
Plaintiffs' Emergency Motion for Temporary Restraining Order & Injunctive Relief and Brief in Support [ECF# 2]
PC-MI-0047-0008.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Mich.
04/30/2020
PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR CLASS CERTIFICATION AND BRIEF IN SUPPORT [ECF# 7 & 7-1 to 7-23]
PC-MI-0047-0003.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Mich.
05/04/2020
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
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Mich.
05/12/2020
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
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Mich.
05/12/2020
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
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Mich.
05/18/2020
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
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Mich.
05/30/2020
Emergency Motions for Expedited Evidentiary Hearing and Brief in Support [ECF# 41]
PC-MI-0047-0009.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Mich.
06/01/2020
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]
PC-MI-0047-0010.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Mich.
06/02/2020
Defendants' Response to Plaintiffs' Emergency Motions (R.41 and R.42) [ECF# 45]
PC-MI-0047-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Mich.
06/03/2020
Reply to Defendants' Response (R 45) to Plaintiffs' Emergency Motions (R. 41 AND R. 42) [ECF# 46]
PC-MI-0047-0011.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Mich.
06/03/2020
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]
PC-MI-0047-0012.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Mich.
06/11/2020
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]
PC-MI-0047-0013.pdf | Detail
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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