University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Hallinan v. Scarantino PC-NC-0022
Docket / Court 5:20-CT-3333-M ( E.D.N.C. )
Additional Docket(s) 5:20-cv-563-M  [ 20-563 ]  Eastern District of NC (U.S.)
State/Territory North Carolina
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Special Collection COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Attorney Organization Washington Lawyers' Committee
Case Summary
COVID-19 Summary: This putative class action lawsuit and habeas petition was filed by ten incarcerated individuals at Federal Correctional Complex Butner on October 26, 2020, seeking safety remedies and release. On May 11, 2021, the Court stayed the case. Note that this is a successor case to ... read more >
COVID-19 Summary: This putative class action lawsuit and habeas petition was filed by ten incarcerated individuals at Federal Correctional Complex Butner on October 26, 2020, seeking safety remedies and release. On May 11, 2021, the Court stayed the case. Note that this is a successor case to Hallinan v. Scarantino, 5:20-hc-02088 (E.D.N.C.) ( PC-NC-0020 on the Clearinghouse).


This putative class action lawsuit and habeas petition challenged the COVID-19 response at the Federal Correctional Complex (FCC) Butner, alleging inadequate health and safety measures. Ten incarcerated individuals filed the suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina against the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), the warden of FCC Butner, and the BOP director and medical director on October 26, 2020, on behalf of themselves and all similarly situated plaintiffs. Eight of the plaintiffs claimed to have disabilities as defined under the Rehabilitation Act, while two did not allege to have disabilities. The plaintiffs sought class certification, with the class including all current and future individuals incarcerated at FCC Butner while anyone on the premises is infected with COVID-19 and a disability subclass consisting of medically vulnerable individuals protected under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

The eight plaintiffs with disabilities argued that the defendants were in violation of the Rehabilitation Act by failing to make the reasonable modifications necessary to ensure equal access to programs, services, and activities for those with disabilities who face a high risk of health complications or death by COVID-19. These plaintiffs contended that they were not able to take steps to protect themselves from the spread of the virus and that defendants failed to mitigate the risks to the disabled population of FCC Butner. By failing to take steps to mitigate the effects of the pandemic, the plaintiffs argued that the defendants' policies created a disparate impact on disabled individuals by subjecting them to a much higher risk of health complications and death compared to the non-disabled. All ten plaintiffs alleged that their conditions of confinement amounted to a violation of the Eighth Amendment's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment by failing to provide the plaintiffs adequate protections and declining to take reasonable steps to mitigate the risk to the health and safety of the plaintiffs.

The plaintiffs requested a declaratory judgment that Butner's policies violated the Eighth Amendment and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. The plaintiffs further asked that the Court create and implement a mitigation plan for prevention of COVID-19 transmission consistent with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. In addition, the plaintiffs asked that the Court order the defendants to establish a process to identify all incarcerated persons who are appropriate for release on home confinement, furlough, or other release mechanisms and to grant a writ of habeas corpus requiring the defendants to release all persons identified through that process. The case was assigned to Judge Richard E. Myers II.

On November 9, 2020, the plaintiffs moved to certify the class and subclass that they identified in their complaint. On December 18, 2020, the defendants moved to dismiss the case or, in the alternative, for the Court to grant the defendants summary judgment. On April 14, 2021, the plaintiffs moved to compel a conference under Rule 26(f) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The defendants responded by moving to stay the case pending a resolution of the motion for class certification and the motion to dismiss.

On May 11, 2021, Judge Myers denied the plaintiffs' motion to compel and granted the defendants' motion to stay. The Court stayed the case pursuant to Rule 26(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which permits a court to issue a protective order to protect a party form annoyance, embarrassment, or undue burden or expense. The rule allows a court, at its discretion, to stay discovery pending the determination of a dispositive motion. In deciding whether to grant a motion to stay discovery, the factors that a court analyzes includes: (1) the potential for the dispositive motion to terminate all claims in the case against particular defendants; (2) strong support for the dispositive motion on the merits; and (3) the irrelevancy of discovery to the dispositive motion. The Court noted that the defendants' motion to dismiss/motion for summary judgment would, if successful, result in the complete dismissal of all claims. On the second factor, the court found that the defendants' motion was supported by a significant number of declarations and exhibits. As to the third factor, the Court stated that neither party contended in any of their filings that discovery was necessary before the court rules on the motion. In light of the three factors, the Court concluded that discovery may be, at least in part, unnecessary and unduly burdensome prior to the resolution of the defendants' motion and therefore stayed the case pending resolution of the motion for class certification and motion to dismiss.

As of October 4, 2021, the case is ongoing.

Nicholas Gillan - 10/01/2021


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
COVID-19
Mitigation Denied
Mitigation Requested
Release Denied
Release Requested
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
Defendant-type
Corrections
Disability
disability, unspecified
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Conditions of confinement
Totality of conditions
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Ex parte Young (federal or state officials)
Habeas Corpus, 28 U.S.C. ยงยง 2241-2253; 2254; 2255
Defendant(s) Federal Bureau of Prisons
Warden of Federal Correctional Complex Butner
Plaintiff Description Ten incarcerated individuals at FCC-Butner on behalf of themselves and all similarly situated individuals
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Washington Lawyers' Committee
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status outcome 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 10/26/2020
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)
Court Docket(s)
E.D.N.C.
09/27/2021
5:20-cv-00563-M
PC-NC-0022-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
E.D.N.C.
10/26/2020
Class Action Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief and Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus [ECF# 1 & 1-1 to 1-37]
PC-NC-0022-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D.N.C.
12/18/2020
Defendants' Memorandum in Support of Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, or in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment [ECF# 31]
PC-NC-0022-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D.N.C.
01/29/2021
Plaintiffs' Opposition to Defendants' Motion to Dismiss, or in the Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment [ECF# 45]
PC-NC-0022-0003.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
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Judges Myers, Richard Ernest II (E.D.N.C.) show/hide docs
PC-NC-0022-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Doerr, Patrick (North Carolina) show/hide docs
PC-NC-0022-0001 | PC-NC-0022-0003
Hinger, Sarah (New York) show/hide docs
PC-NC-0022-0001 | PC-NC-0022-0003
Ireland, Elizabeth (North Carolina) show/hide docs
PC-NC-0022-0001 | PC-NC-0022-0003
Kutnik-Bauder, Jacqueline (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-NC-0022-0001 | PC-NC-0022-0003
Maffetore, Jaclyn A. (North Carolina) show/hide docs
PC-NC-0022-0001 | PC-NC-0022-0003
Missova, Mirela (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-NC-0022-0001
Morris, Maria (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-NC-0022-0001 | PC-NC-0022-0003 | PC-NC-0022-9000
Scavo, Gretchen (North Carolina) show/hide docs
PC-NC-0022-0001 | PC-NC-0022-0003
Seawell, Emily Elizabeth (North Carolina) show/hide docs
PC-NC-0022-0001 | PC-NC-0022-0003
Smith, Jonathan Mark (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PC-NC-0022-0001
Wilkerson, Jeffrey S. (North Carolina) show/hide docs
PC-NC-0022-0001 | PC-NC-0022-0003 | PC-NC-0022-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Bredenberg, Michael D. (North Carolina) show/hide docs
PC-NC-0022-0002
Golden, Lauren A (North Carolina) show/hide docs
PC-NC-0022-0002
Higdon, Robert Jr. (North Carolina) show/hide docs
PC-NC-0022-0002

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