Jama v. U.S. I.N.S., Civ. No. 97-3093 (DRD).

CourtU.S. District Court — District of New Jersey
Writing for the CourtDebevoise
Citation22 F.Supp.2d 353
PartiesHawa Abdi JAMA, Abu Bakar, Joseph Ackah, Charles Addai, Benjamin Anang, Dweku Awotowe, Yvetee Nsukami Badjoko, Gonzalo Crespo, Joseph Debrah, Cecilia Kou Jeffrey, Anantharajah Jeyakumar, Abraham Kenneh, Nagendran Manoharan, Thomas Kyeu Manu, Dennis Raji, Shamimu Nanteza, Agatha Serwaa, Jasmel Singh, Folorunsho Wasiu Alibi and Sarah Tetteh Yower, Plaintiffs, v. UNITED STATES IMMIGRATION AND NATURALIZATION SERVICE, Correctional Services Corporation (formerly "Esmor Correctional Services Inc."), David McLean, Norman Uzzle, Michael D. Rozos, Earline Boyer, Alan Freiss, John Doe Silva, James Slattery, Aaron Speisman, Willard Stovall, John Lima, James Pouland, Diane McClure, Richard Staley, Kevin T. Brodie, Irving Brown, Catrina Clark, Leonard Eady, John Doe Edider, John Doe Feder, Frank Figel, Luis Garcia, Darrell Gill, Winfred Hawkins, John Doe Hayes, William Higgs, Isaiah Hughes, Dorian Hunter, Willie O. Hunger, Michael Jackson, Phillip Johnson, Jon Doe Kutz, Michael Melendez, Jane Doe Michelle, John Doe Mohammed, Okay Nkenke, John Doe Phil, Robert Snead, Corey Stradford, Michael Tate, Augustus Vanderpuye, William Wallington, Norman Williams, John Doe Wilson and John and Jane Does 1-50, Defendants.
Docket NumberCiv. No. 97-3093 (DRD).
Decision Date01 October 1998
22 F.Supp.2d 353
Hawa Abdi JAMA, Abu Bakar, Joseph Ackah, Charles Addai, Benjamin Anang, Dweku Awotowe, Yvetee Nsukami Badjoko, Gonzalo Crespo, Joseph Debrah, Cecilia Kou Jeffrey, Anantharajah Jeyakumar, Abraham Kenneh, Nagendran Manoharan, Thomas Kyeu Manu, Dennis Raji, Shamimu Nanteza, Agatha Serwaa, Jasmel Singh, Folorunsho Wasiu Alibi and Sarah Tetteh Yower, Plaintiffs,
v.
UNITED STATES IMMIGRATION AND NATURALIZATION SERVICE, Correctional Services Corporation (formerly "Esmor Correctional Services Inc."), David McLean, Norman Uzzle, Michael D. Rozos, Earline Boyer, Alan Freiss, John Doe Silva, James Slattery, Aaron Speisman, Willard Stovall, John Lima, James Pouland, Diane McClure, Richard Staley, Kevin T. Brodie, Irving Brown, Catrina Clark, Leonard Eady, John Doe Edider, John Doe Feder, Frank Figel, Luis Garcia, Darrell Gill, Winfred Hawkins, John Doe Hayes, William Higgs, Isaiah Hughes, Dorian Hunter, Willie O. Hunger, Michael Jackson, Phillip Johnson, Jon Doe Kutz, Michael Melendez, Jane Doe Michelle, John Doe Mohammed, Okay Nkenke, John Doe Phil, Robert Snead, Corey Stradford, Michael Tate, Augustus Vanderpuye, William Wallington, Norman Williams, John Doe Wilson and John and Jane Does 1-50, Defendants.
Civ. No. 97-3093 (DRD).
United States District Court, D. New Jersey.
October 1, 1998.

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Frank Askin, Penny M. Venetis, Rutgers Constitutional Litigation Clinic, Rutgers Law School, Newark, NJ, Michael J. Holden, Martin Glenn, Tina Antonakakis, O'Melveny & Myers LLP, Citicorp Center, New York City, for Plaintiffs.

Frank W. Hunger, Assistant Attorney General, Faith S. Hochberg, United States Attorney, Susan C. Cassell, Assistant U.S. Attorney, Deputy Chief, Civil Division, Newark, NJ, Theodore C. Hirt, Lucinda A. Love, U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Division, Federal Programs Branch, Washington, DC, for defendant INS.

Edward R. Murphy, Murphy and O'Connor, Haddonfield, NJ, A. David Carlson, Nathan M. Rymer, Carlson & Smith, P.C., Houston, TX, for defendants INS Officials.

Daniel V. Gsovski, Chase Kurshan Suhr Herzfeld & Rubin, (a partnership including a professional corporation), Newark, NJ, for defendants Correctional Services Corporation (sued herein as "Esmor Correctional Services, Inc.") and other Esmor defendants.

OPINION

DEBEVOISE, Senior District Judge.


Plaintiffs, aliens who sought asylum and who were detained at a facility in Elizabeth, New Jersey, brought this action against defendants Correctional Services Corporation, a number of its officers and employees, the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service ("INS"), and various INS officials, alleging mistreatment while detained in that facility and asserting claims under federal, state and international law. The INS moves to dismiss the complaint under Fed. R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) or, in the alternative, for summary judgment.

Defendants Alan Freiss, Norman Uzzle, Mike Rozos, Earline Boyer and David McLean ("INS officials") have joined in the INS's motion. The United States has been substituted as a defendant as to the claims

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against the INS officials based on New Jersey state law and the New Jersey constitution (counts 14, 20, 24, and 27-29). The INS officials argue for dismissal of most of the remaining claims — those based upon the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (count 22); the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution (count 23); the Fair Labor Standards Act (count 25); and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, customary international law, and the Alien Tort Claims Act (counts 15-18, 21, 26, and 30) — leaving without challenge only claims invoking the First and Fifth Amendments to the United States Constitution (counts 19 and 13 respectively).

Defendants Correctional Services Corporation (formerly known as Esmor Correctional Services, Inc., hereinafter "Esmor") and those of its present and former officers ("Esmor officers") and employees ("Esmor guards" or "guards") who have been sued in this action (collectively "Esmor defendants") also join in the motion and argue for dismissal of several of the claims asserted against them — those founded upon the Fair Labor Standards Act (counts 44, 62, and 80); the Thirteenth Amendment (counts 42, 60, and 78); the New Jersey Constitution (counts 32, 39, 43, 51, 57, 61, 69, 75, and 79); the Religious Freedom Restoration Act ("RFRA") (counts 40, 58, and 76); the Alien Tort Claims Act ("ATCA"); and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ("ICCPR") and customary international law (counts 34-37, 41, 45, 49, 52-55, 59, 63, 67, 70-73, 77, 81, and 84). Count 51 was not separately listed in the Esmor motion, but the argument clearly embraces it.

BACKGROUND

I. The Amended Complaint

Plaintiffs are alien asylum seekers who were detained at a facility in Elizabeth, New Jersey, which was run by Esmor and staffed by its employees under a contract with the INS. The allegations of the amended complaint can be summarized as follows: Every moment of plaintiffs' detention was filled with abuse. They could not escape from these abuses even in their dreams, as they were not permitted to sleep — bright lights shone on them 24 hours a day, and guards woke them up just to taunt them.

Esmor's layout contributed to and exacerbated the unrelenting abuses defendants inflicted on plaintiffs. Esmor was separated into several dormitories which were filthy and constantly smelled of human waste and other noxious odors. Complaint at ¶ 44. Between twenty and forty asylees were packed into each room, which lacked natural light, telephones, and recreational materials Id. at ¶ 43. The rooms were separated from each other and the communal hallways by thick dark glass so that persons in the halls could peer into the dormitories. Id. The dorms were not cleaned by defendants and were filthy. Id. In response to plaintiffs' repeated requests for cleaning materials, the guards beat plaintiffs. Id.

The shower and toilet in each dormitory were in the same room as the eating and sleeping areas, forcing the plaintiffs to eat meals only inches away from the bathroom areas. Id. at ¶ 44. Thus, as they ate, plaintiffs could observe and smell other detainees using the toilets. Id. Additionally, the bathroom facilities had no curtain or divider — allowing the other asylees, guards and anyone passing in the hallway to observe the naked bodies of the plaintiffs who were using the toilets and taking showers. Id. at ¶ 44. This was traumatic, humiliating and degrading to many detainees particularly the women, many of whom had never exposed their bodies to anyone before. Id. at ¶ 45. When women detainees showered, guards made crude sexual comments about their bodies. This exacerbated the women plaintiffs' feelings of shame and humiliation. Id.

In a variety of ways defendants physically, mentally and sexually abused plaintiffs. In addition to beating them they yelled racial and ethnic epithets at them such as "African Monkeys" from the "jungle". Id. at ¶¶ 59, 67. The guards woke plaintiffs before sunrise and forced them to stand facing a wall, with their legs spread, for up to an hour at a time. Id. at ¶ 58. Upon searching male plaintiffs' genital areas the guards forcefully yanked their genitals causing severe pain. There was inappropriate touching of both male and female plaintiffs. Id. ¶¶ 70, 72.

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Sexual favors were sought of female plaintiffs. Id. ¶ 71.

Defendants deprived plaintiffs of clothing and personal hygiene necessities. Id. at ¶ 51. Changes of clothing were infrequent and the clothing provided was often filthy and could not be worn. Id. at ¶¶ 49, 50, 52.

Defendants served spoiled food and insufficient amounts. The kitchen served rotten meat and sour milk. Id. at ¶ 47. Esmor officials and guards ordered detainees not to report food problems to INS inspectors who visited the facility. Id. at ¶ 48.

Guards regularly locked plaintiffs in solitary confinement cells without warning or explanation, without a hearing, ranging from several days to several months. The defendants often shackled plaintiffs to their beds. Id. at ¶ 76.

Guards performed strip searches and body cavity searches in a manner designed to degrade and humiliate plaintiffs. Id. at ¶ 74.

Defendants prevented plaintiffs from practicing their religious rituals. Id. at ¶ 92. Defendants forced plaintiffs to work without compensation. Id. at ¶ 85. They took plaintiffs' property and never returned it. Guards stole money from plaintiffs. Id. at ¶¶ 95, 96.

Plaintiffs were denied adequate medical treatment. Id. at ¶ 108. They were denied access to legal representation. For example, guards, without any justification, often would refuse to allow plaintiffs to use the telephone to discuss their asylum cases with their counsel. Id. at ¶ 52. Additionally, defendants continuously failed to transport plaintiffs promptly to their asylum hearings. Id. at ¶ 55. As a result, plaintiffs often missed important asylum meetings (which resulted in a postponement of their asylum hearings) and prolonged their detention at Esmor. Id. at ¶¶ 52, 55. Moreover, female detainees were forced to choose between being sexually assaulted and contacting their lawyers — as guards premised using the telephones on submitting to their unwanted sexual advances. Id. at 71.

Plaintiffs allege that at all times during the events that gave rise to the complaint the individual Esmor defendants were employees and agents of both Esmor and the INS. They also assert that Esmor officers and INS officials either were or should have been aware of the pattern of abuses taking place at the Esmor facility.

The Esmor facility was closed after a revolt by the detainees on June 18, 1995. Some of the plaintiffs are still subject to detention at other facilities; some have been granted political asylum, and some have...

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43 practice notes
  • Al-Quraishi v. Nakhla, Civil No. PJM 08-1696
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
    • July 29, 2010
    ...as offending internationally recognized norms of civilized conduct."); Jama v. United States Immigration and Naturalization Serv., 22 F.Supp.2d 353, 363 (D.N.J.1998) (analyzing sources of international law and finding that "[t]he mental and physical abuses which are alleged to have been inf......
  • Bowoto v. Chevton Corp., No. C 99-02506 SI.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Northern District of California
    • May 30, 2008
    ...See Doe v. Liu Qi, 349 F.Supp.2d 1258, 1322 (N.D.Cal. 2004); Tachiona v. Mugabe, 216 F.Supp.2d 262, 281 (S.D.N.Y.2002); Jama v. I.N.S., 22 F.Supp.2d 353, 363 (D.N.J.1998); Xuncax v. Gramajo, 886 F.Supp. 162, 187 (D.Mass.1995); but see Forti v. Suarez-Mason, 694 F.Supp. 707, 712 (N.D.Cal. 19......
  • Sarei v. Rio Tinto Plc., No. CIV.00-11695 MMM.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Central District of California
    • July 9, 2002
    ...exhaust national remedies before filing suit in the United States.105 Page 1138 Cf. Jama v. U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, 22 F.Supp.2d 353, 364 (D.N.J.1998) (rejecting defendants' contention that plaintiffs could not state ATCA claims for violation of international law becaus......
  • Iwanowa v. Ford Motor Co., No. Civ.A. 98-959 JAG.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of New Jersey
    • October 28, 1999
    ...(D.C.Cir.1985) ("As for the law of nations — so called `customary international law'"); Jama v. Immigration and Naturalization Serv., 22 F.Supp.2d 353, 362 (D.N.J.1998) (noting that plaintiffs submitted treaties in support of their "claim under the `law of nations' or international law"); D......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
43 cases
  • Al-Quraishi v. Nakhla, Civil No. PJM 08-1696
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
    • July 29, 2010
    ...as offending internationally recognized norms of civilized conduct."); Jama v. United States Immigration and Naturalization Serv., 22 F.Supp.2d 353, 363 (D.N.J.1998) (analyzing sources of international law and finding that "[t]he mental and physical abuses which are alleged to have been inf......
  • Bowoto v. Chevton Corp., No. C 99-02506 SI.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Northern District of California
    • May 30, 2008
    ...See Doe v. Liu Qi, 349 F.Supp.2d 1258, 1322 (N.D.Cal. 2004); Tachiona v. Mugabe, 216 F.Supp.2d 262, 281 (S.D.N.Y.2002); Jama v. I.N.S., 22 F.Supp.2d 353, 363 (D.N.J.1998); Xuncax v. Gramajo, 886 F.Supp. 162, 187 (D.Mass.1995); but see Forti v. Suarez-Mason, 694 F.Supp. 707, 712 (N.D.Cal. 19......
  • Sarei v. Rio Tinto Plc., No. CIV.00-11695 MMM.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Central District of California
    • July 9, 2002
    ...exhaust national remedies before filing suit in the United States.105 Page 1138 Cf. Jama v. U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, 22 F.Supp.2d 353, 364 (D.N.J.1998) (rejecting defendants' contention that plaintiffs could not state ATCA claims for violation of international law becaus......
  • Iwanowa v. Ford Motor Co., No. Civ.A. 98-959 JAG.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of New Jersey
    • October 28, 1999
    ...(D.C.Cir.1985) ("As for the law of nations — so called `customary international law'"); Jama v. Immigration and Naturalization Serv., 22 F.Supp.2d 353, 362 (D.N.J.1998) (noting that plaintiffs submitted treaties in support of their "claim under the `law of nations' or international law"); D......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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