On May 9, 2005, Isaac Kigondu Kiniti, an undocumented alien detained in the San Diego Correctional Facility (SDCF) filed a pro se lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, challenging his conditions of confinement. SDCF was a contract detention facility in Otay Mesa, California operated by Corrections Corporation of America, Inc. It housed civil immigration detainees in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Kiniti's complaint was summarily dismissed by the Court, but he was granted leave to amend it.
Eventually, attorneys with the ACLU's National Prison Project and Immigrants' Rights Project, the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties and private firms agreed to represent Kiniti. A Second Amended Complaint was filed in February 2007 on behalf of Kiniti, several newly named individual plaintiffs and a proposed class of over 1000 immigrants detained at SDCF. The Second Amended Complaint alleged unconstitutional and inhumane conditions which violated the Due Process Clause Fifth Amendment and which included: severe overcrowding (use of triple-celling); denial of adequate shelter, reasonable safety, and basic human needs; exposure to respiratory and other infections; poor access to medical, mental health, and dental services; denial of exercise and dayroom space; and unsanitary shower and toilet facilities. Plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as class certification.
Defendants moved to dismiss the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
On June 21, 2007, the District Court (Judge Dana M. Sabraw) issued an order granting-in-part and denying-in-part defendants' motions to dismiss. Claims of two named plaintiffs were dismissed as moot, as they had already been deported. The claims of the other three plaintiffs survived.
Judge Sabraw certified the case as a class action, over the objections and motions to reconsider by defendants. In her order denying reconsideration dated October 29, 2007, Judge Sabraw noted that the defendants "continue to assert triple celling is not unconstitutional, and continue to engage in other allegedly unconstitutional practices such as housing detainees in the common day room." Given those facts, the Court found a likelihood of substantial and immediate irreparable injury, which conferred Article III standing and standing to pursue injunctive relief as a class.
On June 19, 2008, the parties filed a proposed settlement with the court. On July 11, 2008, the district court administratively closed the case, and on August 20, 2009, the court approved the settlement. Some members of the plaintiff class appealed the settlement, and on December 3, 2008, the court of appeals dismissed the appeal. On January 28, 2009, the district court dismissed the case with prejudice.Kristen Sagar - 04/06/2009