University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
view search results
page permalink
Case Name Barnett v. Tony JC-FL-0026
Docket / Court 0:20-cv-61113-WPD ( S.D. Fla. )
State/Territory Florida
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Special Collection COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Attorney Organization ACLU Affiliates (any)
ACLU National (all projects)
ACLU National Prison Project
Case Summary
COVID-19 Summary: Thirteen individuals and a local NGO, Disability Rights Florida, alleged in this class action lawsuit, which was filed in June 2020, that the Broward Sheriff's Office (BSO) provided inadequate safety measures to protect its prisoners from the COVID-19 virus. After an abbreviated ... read more >
COVID-19 Summary: Thirteen individuals and a local NGO, Disability Rights Florida, alleged in this class action lawsuit, which was filed in June 2020, that the Broward Sheriff's Office (BSO) provided inadequate safety measures to protect its prisoners from the COVID-19 virus. After an abbreviated discovery process, BSO entered into a class settlement with the plaintiffs, which was subsequently approved by the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Florida in May 2021. On September 21, 2021, the plaintiffs moved to enforce or modify the settlement agreement. In November 2021, Magistrate Judge Lurana S. Snow filed a report and recommendation. The court recommended that the defendant be ordered to follow CDC guidelines in a number of areas. The parties were given fourteen days to file objections.


This is a class action lawsuit about the sufficiency of COVID-19 safety protocols at Broward County Jails, administered by the Broward Sheriff's Office (BSO). On June 5, 2020, thirteen named plaintiffs and a local NGO, Disability Rights Florida, represented by the ACLU, filed the case seeking a writ of habeas corpus and injunctive and declaratory relief. Plaintiffs alleged that the BSO knowingly failed to adopt and implement adequate policies and procedures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. These alleged failures included hazardous intake processes, insufficient social distancing, insufficient testing, and a lack of PPE and cleaning supplies for prisoners. In addition to claims that these alleged failures constituted violations of the 8th Amendment's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment as well as the 14th Amendment's Due Process Clause, plaintiffs claimed that BSO was in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12131, and the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 794, as these policies were potentially especially harmful to the medically vulnerable and to those with disabilities. The case was assigned to U.S. District Court Judge William P. Dimitrouleas, sitting in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

On June 25, 2020, plaintiffs filed a motion for a temporary restraining order seeking release of medically vulnerable and disabled individuals, as well as implementation of COVID-19 education programs, stricter social distancing protocols, regular testing, and the provision of PPE to prisoners and staff. BSO did not respond, and the case was instead stayed until December 15 when both parties moved for a preliminary approval of class settlement and class certification.

The settlement agreement granted plaintiffs class certification and most of the remedies they had sought, with the notable exception of release for medically vulnerable and disabled incarcerated persons. Notwithstanding that exception, the settlement ordered BSO to comply with CDC recommendations on matters such as social distancing, PPE and sanitization supplies, and the availability and prominence of health information.

Between December 15, 2021 and May 13, 2021, when the settlement was ultimately approved, the court received twenty-four written objections from class members opposing the settlement. However, the bulk of these letters addressed ongoing safety violations in spite of the settlement, which was already in effect, as opposed to opposing the settlement itself. The court approved the settlement, pointing out that plaintiffs may conduct reasonable monitoring of the jail's compliance, including inspections, review of relevant documents, and interviewing staff and class members. The court retained jurisdiction for the length of this order, which was set to be 12 to 15 months, depending on when Emergency Orders are lifted in Broward County and the state of Florida.

On September 21, 2021, the plaintiffs moved to enforce or modify the settlement agreement. The plaintiffs alleged that BSO had failed to comply with key terms of the settlement. First, they contended that BSO had failed to follow CDC guidelines regarding COVID-19, as required by the settlement agreement. The request to enforce included eighteen different specific categories, including testing, screening, monitoring, social distancing, isolation, and the provision of personal protective equipment and educational information. Along with the specific requests for enforcement, the plaintiffs also requested the imposition of monthly compliance reporting and the appointment of an independent monitor to oversee compliance. Secondly, the plaintiffs argued that the court should use its equitable power to modify the agreement and direct BSO to take measures to educate detainees about vaccination and to provide access to vaccination, since these measures had not been contemplated at the time of the agreement's negotiation and are necessary to effectuate the purpose of the settlement agreement. Judge Dimitrouleas referred the motion to Magistrate Judge Lurana S. Snow. An evidentiary hearing on the motion was held on October 21, 2021.

On November 19, 2021, Magistrate Judge Snow filed a report and recommendation on the motion to enforce or modify the settlement. The court found that the defendant had failed to follow the terms of the settlement agreement by failing to comply with CDC guidance regarding COVID-19, as was required by the agreement. The court recommended that the defendant be ordered to comply with the CDC's guidance by conducting COVID-19 tests on all individuals at intake; by testing all detainees being released or otherwise leaving jail; by ensuring that quarantined individuals are tested every 3-7 days; by conducting temperature and symptom checks prior to all transfers of detainees; by maintaining a list of medically vulnerable detainees and conducting COVID-19 screening and temperature checks on such detainees; by tracking the housing location of medically vulnerable inmates; and by ensuring that detainees possess two usable face coverings at all times. The court found that no additional action by the defendant was needed in order to comply with the settlement agreement. Furthermore, the court did not find the appointment of an independent monitor or enhanced reporting to be necessary. Lastly, the court found that no modification to the agreement was necessary. The parties were given fourteen days to file written objections to the report and recommendation.

The case is ongoing.

Sean Drohan - 06/06/2021
Nicholas Gillan - 11/22/2021


compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Issues
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process
Due Process: Procedural Due Process
Due Process: Substantive Due Process
COVID-19
CDC Guidance ordered implemented
Contact tracing ordered
COVID reporting ordered
COVID testing ordered/modified
COVID vaccination ordered
Independent monitor/inspector imposed/assisted
Inspection ordered/regulated
Mitigation Denied
Mitigation Requested
Release Requested
Release-process created/modified
Sanitizer/Handsoap ordered made available/used
Social distancing ordered
Transfer-ordered or process created/modified
Wellness/temperature checks ordered
Crowding
Crowding / caseload
Defendant-type
Corrections
Jurisdiction-wide
Disability
disability, unspecified
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Bathing and hygiene
Conditions of confinement
Sanitation / living conditions
Medical/Mental Health
HIV/AIDS
Medical care, general
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Private Plaintiff
Special Case Type
Habeas
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
Ex parte Young (federal or state officials)
Habeas Corpus, 28 U.S.C. §§ 2241-2253; 2254; 2255
Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701
Defendant(s) Broward Sheriff's Office
Plaintiff Description Persons confined or who will be confined in Broward County (Florida) jails.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Affiliates (any)
ACLU National (all projects)
ACLU National Prison Project
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status outcome Granted
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
Order Duration 2021 - 2022
Filed 06/05/2020
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
click to show/hide detail
  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
Court Docket(s)
S.D. Fla.
10/27/2021
0:20-cv-61113
JC-FL-0026-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
S.D. Fla.
06/05/2020
Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus and Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief [ECF# 1]
JC-FL-0026-0001.pdf | External Link | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Fla.
12/15/2020
Joint Motion for Preliminary Approval of Class Settlement, Preliminary Certification of Settlement Class, and Approval of Class Notice and Incorporated Memorandum of Law [ECF# 49, 42-2 and 49-3]
JC-FL-0026-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Fla.
12/15/2020
Settlement Agreement [ECF# 49-1]
JC-FL-0026-0003.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Fla.
05/13/2021
Order Certifying Settlement Class and Approving Class Settlement [ECF# 112]
JC-FL-0026-0004.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Fla.
09/21/2021
Plaintiffs' Motion for Enforcement and Modification and Incorporated Memorandum of Law [ECF# 130]
JC-FL-0026-0005.pdf | External Link | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Dimitrouleas, William P. (S.D. Fla.) show/hide docs
JC-FL-0026-0004 | JC-FL-0026-9000
Snow, Lurana S. (S.D. Fla.) [Magistrate] show/hide docs
JC-FL-0026-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Azis, Jacqueline Nicole (Florida) show/hide docs
JC-FL-0026-0001 | JC-FL-0026-0002 | JC-FL-0026-0005 | JC-FL-0026-9000
Balaban, Eric G. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
JC-FL-0026-0001 | JC-FL-0026-0002 | JC-FL-0026-0003 | JC-FL-0026-0005 | JC-FL-0026-9000
Congdon, James H (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
JC-FL-0026-0001 | JC-FL-0026-0002 | JC-FL-0026-9000
Filaroski, Curtis (Florida) show/hide docs
JC-FL-0026-0001 | JC-FL-0026-0002 | JC-FL-0026-0005 | JC-FL-0026-9000
Han, Suhana S. (New York) show/hide docs
JC-FL-0026-0001 | JC-FL-0026-0002 | JC-FL-0026-0005 | JC-FL-0026-9000
Olsen, Elizabeth N (New York) show/hide docs
JC-FL-0026-0005 | JC-FL-0026-9000
Rosenbloom, Nancy (New York) show/hide docs
JC-FL-0026-0005 | JC-FL-0026-9000
Samant, Anjana (New York) show/hide docs
JC-FL-0026-0001 | JC-FL-0026-0002 | JC-FL-0026-0005 | JC-FL-0026-9000
Stevenson, Benjamin James (Florida) show/hide docs
JC-FL-0026-0001 | JC-FL-0026-0002 | JC-FL-0026-0003 | JC-FL-0026-0005 | JC-FL-0026-9000
Strobach, Kathryn (Florida) show/hide docs
JC-FL-0026-0001 | JC-FL-0026-0002 | JC-FL-0026-0005
Stull, Brian (North Carolina) show/hide docs
JC-FL-0026-0001
Tilley, Daniel Boaz (Florida) show/hide docs
JC-FL-0026-0001 | JC-FL-0026-0002 | JC-FL-0026-0005 | JC-FL-0026-9000
Toprani, Akash M (New York) show/hide docs
JC-FL-0026-0001 | JC-FL-0026-0002 | JC-FL-0026-0005 | JC-FL-0026-9000
Watt, Steven M. (New York) show/hide docs
JC-FL-0026-0001 | JC-FL-0026-0002 | JC-FL-0026-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Lynch, Terrence O'Byrne (Florida) show/hide docs
JC-FL-0026-0003
Piper, Michael Ross (Florida) show/hide docs
JC-FL-0026-0002 | JC-FL-0026-9000
Stearns, Christopher J Jr (Florida) show/hide docs
JC-FL-0026-9000

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
view search results
page permalink

- top of page -