Jama v. U.S.I.N.S.

Citation343 F.Supp.2d 338
Decision Date10 November 2004
Docket NumberCivil No. 98-1282(DRD).,Civil No. 97-3093(DRD).
PartiesHawa Abdi JAMA, et al., Plaintiffs, v. UNITED STATES IMMIGRATION AND NATURALIZATION SERVICE, et al., Defendants. Samson Brown, et al., Plaintiff, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, v. Esmor Correctional Services, Inc., et al., Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — District of New Jersey

Steven D. Weinstein, Esq., J. Llewellyn Mathews, Esq., Blank Rome LLP, Cherry Hill, NJ, Larry S. Reich, Esq., Blank Rome LLP, New York, NY, Frank R. Volpe, Esq., Ryan D. Nelson, Esq., Sidley, Austin, Brown & Wood, LLP, Washington, DC, for Defendants Esmor Correctional Services, Inc., James F. Slattery, John Lima, Richard Staley, and Aaron Speisman.

Edward R. Murphy, Esq., Elizabeth Dalberth, Esq., Murphy and O'Connor, Cherry Hill, NJ, Marvin C. Moos, Esq., Ebanks, Smith & Carlson, LLP, Houston, TX, for Defendants Michael D. Rozos, Earline Boyer, Alan Friess, Norman Uzzle, and David McLean.

E. Carr Cornog, Esq., Rotolo Midlige, Lebanon, NJ, for Defendants Willie O. Hunter and Michael Jackson.

Gloria Cherry, Esq., Braff, Harris & Sukoneck, Livingston, NJ, for Defendants Tommie Lee Brown, Robert Snead, Okay Nkenke, Phillip Johnson, and Kevin Brodie.

Jeffrey M. Kadish, Esq., Morgan, Melhuish, Monaghan, Abrutyn & Lisowski, Livingston, NJ, for Defendants Dorian Hunter, Michael Melendez, James Stratford, and Corey Stratford.

Gerald D. Siegel, Esq., Vidya Prasad, Esq., Siegel & Siegel, P.C., Plainsboro, NJ, for Defendant Irving Brown.

John B. Livelli, Esq., Robinson & Livelli, Newark, NJ, for Defendant Willard Stovall.

OPINION

DEBEVOISE, Senior District Judge.

                                            TABLE OF CONTENTS
                Introduction ............................................................345
                Background ..............................................................345
                A.  Procedural Background ...............................................345
                    1. The Brown Action .................................................346
                    2. The Jama Action ..................................................347
                B.  The Pending Jama Motions ............................................352
                C.  General Allegations of Facility Conditions ..........................352
                INS Officials ...........................................................353
                Recent Legal Developments ...............................................357
                A.  Sosa ................................................................357
                B.  Malesko .............................................................361
                C.  Statute of Limitations ..............................................363
                D.  RFRA ................................................................366
                    1. Constitutionality as Applied to Federal Government ...............367
                    2. Claims Against Individual Defendants for Money Damages ...........371
                Discussion ..............................................................376
                A.  Issues Determined in 2004 Brown Opinion .............................376
                
                B.  Summary Judgment Standard ...........................................377
                C.  Esmor ...............................................................378
                D.  Esmor Officers ......................................................379
                E.  Esmor Guards ........................................................381
                    1. Hawa Abdi Jama ...................................................382
                    2. Anantharajah Jayakumar ...........................................382
                    3. Abu Bakar ........................................................382
                    4. Cecilia Roe Jeffrey ..............................................383
                    5. Abraham Kenneh ...................................................384
                    6. Dennis Raji ......................................................384
                    7. Agatha Serwaa ....................................................384
                    8. Shamimu Nanteza ..................................................385
                    9. Sarah Yower ......................................................385
                    10. Esmor Guards' Motion Generally ..................................385
                Conclusion ..............................................................385
                
Introduction

This is the second of two opinions that resolve numerous defense motions for summary judgment and for related relief in two actions instituted by undocumented aliens who were detained at a facility that the Immigration and Naturalization Service ("INS") maintained in Elizabeth, New Jersey pending determination of their asylum status. Esmor Correctional Services, Inc. (now Correctional Services Corporation) ("Esmor") operated the facility under contract with the INS.

The first action, Brown v. Esmor Correctional Services, Inc., et al., Civil No. 98-1282 ("the Brown action") is a class action that was filed in the Supreme Court of the State of New York on or about March 6, 1996. Defendants in the case removed it to the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York on April 10, 1996 based upon diversity and federal question jurisdiction. On March 11, 1998 that court transferred the action to this court.

The second action is Jama v. United States Immigration and Natural Service, et al., Civil Action No. 97-3093, filed in this court on June 16, 1997. In a first amended complaint twenty individual plaintiffs named as defendants the INS, Esmor, forty-four named individuals and John and Jane Does 1-501.

The defendants in each of these two actions filed motions for summary judgment and for related relief. Because the legal issues were more complex in the Jama action, the motions in the Brown action were addressed first and resolved in an opinion dated September 9, 2004, Brown v. Esmor Correctional Services, Inc., 334 F.Supp.2d 662 (D.N.J.2004) (the "2004 Brown Opinion"). A number of the legal issues are common to the two actions, and to the extent they were resolved in the Brown Action they will be deemed resolved for the purposes of this action. For a complete understanding of the contentions raised in Jama, it will be necessary to incorporate herein portions of the Brown opinion.

Background
A. Procedural Background

The Plaintiffs in the Brown and Jama actions are foreign nationals and refugees who sought political asylum in the United States. They were taken into custody by the INS and incarcerated at the facility that Esmor operated in Elizabeth (the "Facility"). Esmor manages and operates for-profit corrections and detention facilities for federal, state and local corrections and other agencies.

The Facility was in operation from approximately August 1994 to July 1995. On June 18, 1995 the detainees rioted, and the Facility was shut down shortly thereafter. The detainees were transferred elsewhere in the United States or were deported.

In both the Brown and Jama actions the Plaintiffs allege that while they were detainees at the Facility they were tortured, beaten, harassed, and otherwise mistreated by Esmor guards, and that they were subjected to abysmal living conditions including inadequate sanitation, exercise, and medical treatment.

1. The Brown Action

The Brown action names a number of class Plaintiffs (reduced in number since the original complaint was filed) who sue on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated. On April 24, 1998 the Court certified a class-namely, all detainees who were incarcerated at the Facility during its operation from August 1994 to July 1995. Originally the Brown action named as defendants corporations affiliated with Esmor and two of Esmor's officers. Discovery proceeded. By order dated October 27, 2003 the claims against all the corporate entities other than Esmor and the claims against the officers were dismissed with prejudice. Thus Esmor remained the sole Defendant in the Brown action.

In view of the Supreme Court decision in Correctional Services Corp. v. Malesko, 534 U.S. 61, 122 S.Ct. 515, 151 L.Ed.2d 456 (2001), which was decided after the Brown action was commenced, the plaintiff class acknowledged that its claims against Esmor arising under the United States Constitution were no longer viable.

At the time Esmor's motions were filed four claims remained in the Brown action: (i) a claim based on Esmor's knowing, reckless, and intentional failure to properly screen, hire, train, and supervise its employees; (ii) a claim based on Esmor's negligent hiring, training and supervision of the Esmor guards; (iii) a claim of Esmor's respondeat superior liability for the negligent and/or intentional acts of the Esmor guards whom it employed; and (iv) the claim of the plaintiff class members against Esmor as third-party beneficiaries of the Esmor contract with the INS for damages suffered as a result of Esmor's breach of that contract. These are all state law claims.

In opposing the motion for summary judgment the Brown action plaintiffs made extensive use of the interim assessment report on the Elizabeth facility prepared by INS officials at the direction of INS Commissioner Doris Meissner. Esmor contended that the Report is inadmissible hearsay and contended that it had not been authenticated and was inadmissible under Fed.R.Evid. 403. The 2004 Brown Opinion rejected these objections, and for the reasons set forth in that opinion they will be rejected in this opinion.

Relying on New Jersey law the court denied Esmor's motion for summary judgment on the class plaintiffs' claims based on negligent hiring, retention, training...

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