Mays v. Dart, 20-1792

Citation974 F.3d 810
Decision Date08 September 2020
Docket NumberNo. 20-1792,20-1792
Parties Anthony MAYS, individually and on behalf of a class of similarly situated persons, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellees, v. Thomas J. DART, Sheriff of Cook County, Illinois, Defendant-Appellant.
CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)

Easha Anand, Attorney, RODERICK & SOLANGE MACARTHUR JUSTICE CENTER, San Francisco, CA, Steven Edwards Art, Attorney, Sarah Grady, Attorney, Jon C. Loevy, Attorney, LOEVY & LOEVY, Locke E. Bowman, III, Attorney, RODERICK & SOLANGE MACARTHUR JUSTICE CENTER, Alexa Van Brunt, Attorney, MACARTHUR JUSTICE CENTER, Chicago, IL, Charles Gerstein, Attorney, Alec Karakatsanis, Attorney, CIVIL RIGHTS CORPS, Washington, DC, for Plaintiffs-Appellees.

Gretchen Harris Sperry, Attorney, Lari A. Dierks, Attorney, James M. Lydon, Attorney, Robert Thomas Shannon, Attorney, Adam R. Vaught, Attorney, HINSHAW & CULBERTSON LLP, Chicago, IL, for Defendant-Appellant.

Before Sykes, Chief Judge, and Brennan and St. Eve, Circuit Judges.

St. Eve, Circuit Judge.

Plaintiffs—a class of detainees at the Cook County Jail—brought this action against Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart after the Jail reported an outbreak of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus that has sparked a global pandemic. Plaintiffs contend that the Sheriff has violated their Fourteenth Amendment Due Process rights by failing to provide them with reasonably safe living conditions as the pandemic rages. Plaintiffs seek various forms of relief, including an injunction requiring the Sheriff to implement certain procedures related to social distancing, sanitation, diagnostic testing, and personal protective equipment ("PPE") to protect them from the virus for the duration of the pandemic.

After a hearing, the district court granted a temporary restraining order imposing several forms of relief, including but not limited to, mandates requiring the Sheriff to provide hand sanitizer and soap to all detainees and face masks to detainees in quarantine. The district court declined to order relief in several instances, though: most notably for our decision today, the district court rejected Plaintiffsrequest to prohibit double celling and group housing arrangements to permit adequate social distancing.

Plaintiffs subsequently moved for entry of a preliminary injunction, requesting an extension of the relief the district court previously mandated in the temporary restraining order and, among other things, renewing their request for socially distanced housing. After another hearing, the district court switched course from its prior ruling and granted the renewed social distancing request, albeit with certain exceptions. The district court also granted the request for an extension of the relief included in the temporary restraining order. The Sheriff appealed.

We conclude that, in the course of its analysis regarding double celling and group housing, the district court committed three distinct legal errors: the district court failed to consider the Sheriff's conduct in its totality, failed to afford proper deference to the Sheriff's judgment in adopting policies necessary to ensure safety and security, and cited an incorrect legal standard when evaluating the likelihood that Plaintiffs’ claims will succeed on their merits. Given these legal errors in evaluating the likelihood of success on the merits of Plaintiffs’ claims, we reverse the district court with respect to the portion of the preliminary injunction mandating socially distanced housing. Regarding the remaining relief, however, the district court made detailed factual findings, properly considered the Sheriff's conduct in its totality, and closely tailored the relief it ordered to the guidelines promulgated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ("CDC"). We therefore affirm all other aspects of the preliminary injunction.

I. Background
A. Factual Background

At present, COVID-19 requires no introduction: the novel coronavirus causing this disease has spread around the world, resulting in an unprecedented global pandemic that has disrupted every aspect of public life. The virus, SARSCoV-2, causes symptoms ranging from fever to shortness of breath to loss of smell and can lead to serious health effects—including damage to internal organs and, in many cases, death. People over the age of sixty-five and with certain preexisting health conditions face a heightened risk of severe illness resulting from COVID-19. The virus transmits rapidly from person to person, primarily through respiratory droplets emitted by coughing or sneezing that can travel multiple feet and remain in the air for several hours, and also through lingering particles on surfaces. People may transmit the virus despite a lack of symptoms, making it difficult to take necessary precautions.

Society has, though, taken many precautions to attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19. Many states, including Illinois, presently require wearing face coverings in public spaces in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. States have ramped up testing capacity and contact tracing to identify those who have interacted with persons who later tested positive for the virus. Illinois and most other states implemented stay-at-home orders that forced people to socially distance, limiting interpersonal contacts and group activities: schools transitioned to remote learning, restaurants and bars closed, and officials largely cancelled public events.

The Cook County Jail is an enormous facility with the population of a small town. The inherent nature of the Jail presents unique challenges for combatting the spread of COVID-19: it is designed to accommodate large and densely-packed populations. Many detainees reside in "dormitory" units, meaning hundreds of detainees sleep in a single room on closely-spaced bunk beds, and there are many common spaces where detainees are in close proximity to one another. On April 8, 2020, The New York Times reported that, at that time, the Jail was the largest known-source of coronavirus infections

in the United States. Timothy Williams and Danielle Ivory, Chicago's Jail Is Top U.S. Hot Spot as Virus Spreads Behind Bars (April 8, 2020) N.Y. Times, (last visited August 27, 2020). When Plaintiffs filed their motion for a preliminary injunction, on April 14, 541 detainees and Jail staff had tested positive for COVID-19. By April 23, only a few days before the district court issued the preliminary injunction that is the subject of this appeal, six detained persons had died from complications.

On March 23, the Center for Disease Control issued Interim Guidance on Management of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Correctional and Detention Facilities ("CDC Guidelines"). The document "is intended to provide guiding principles for healthcare and non-healthcare administrations of correctional and detention facilities" to "help reduce the risk of transmission and severe disease from COVID-19" in light of the unique challenges correctional and detention facilities present. The Guidelines recommend various measures, including making available sufficient hygiene and cleaning supplies, frequently cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces and objects, and implementing social distancing strategies where feasible, among many others. The Guidelines note, in bold font, that the "guidance may need to be adapted based on individual facilities’ physical space, staffing, population, operations, and other resources and conditions." Additionally, in the section recommending the implementation of social distancing in jails, the CDC's guidance notes "[s]trategies will need to be tailored to the individual space in the facility and the needs of the population and staff."

The Cook County Sheriff, who is responsible for operating the Jail, took numerous proactive measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. As early as January 24, Roland Lankah, the Sheriff's in-house Environmental Health Specialist and epidemiologist, began coordinating with the Cook County Health Infection Control Department to develop a plan for an outbreak. That plan involved increasing disinfection and sanitization, devising protocols to screen detainees for symptoms, and moving infected detainees to separate housing. Upon Governor Pritzker's declaration of Illinois as a disaster area on March 9, the Sheriff set up a space for new detainees to quarantine for seven to fourteen days before entering the general population. By mid-March, First Assistant Executive Director Michael Miller was working to open three closed divisions of the Jail to create more single-cell units and reduce density. The Sheriff also coordinated with Senator Durbin's office, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and Governor Pritzker's office to receive priority access to the national stockpile of PPE in Illinois. The Sheriff engaged various consultants, including a former CDC Director, to improve sanitation policies, policies relating to medical screening, and use of PPE. In coordination with other stakeholders in the Cook County criminal justice system, the Sheriff undertook efforts to reduce the Jail population through securing release or electronic monitoring for over 1,200 detainees. And, on April 1, the Sheriff's Office contacted local authorities to obtain approval to administer Abbott Laboratories’ rapid test at the Jail. Cermak Health Services, a division of the Cook County Health and Hospital Systems, began administering these tests soon thereafter.

B. Procedural Background

On April 3, Anthony Mays and Kenneth Foster, two detainees at the Cook County Jail, sued Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart on behalf of "all people who are currently or who will in the future be housed in the Cook County Jail for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic." The class includes two subclasses: Subclass A, which consists of all people who are at an elevated...

To continue reading

Request your trial
347 cases
  • Comm. for Pub. Counsel Servs. v. Barnstable Cnty. Sheriff's Office
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • September 28, 2021
    ...rather, "objective reasonableness turns on the ‘facts and circumstances of each particular case’ "). See also Mays v. Dart, 974 F.3d 810, 819 (7th Cir. 2020) (applying "objective reasonableness" inquiry to pretrial detainees’ due process claims regarding conditions of confinement and conclu......
  • Klaassen v. Trs. of Ind. Univ.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Indiana
    • July 18, 2021
    ...not to expand the guidance beyond what it says. See United States v. Newton , 996 F.3d 485, 489 (7th Cir. 2021) ; Mays v. Dart , 974 F.3d 810, 823 (7th Cir. 2020), cert. filed. To be sure, the CDC doesn't recommend that schools "mandate" the vaccine—a point the students make—but such a reco......
  • Jane Doe v. Franklin Square Union Free Sch. Dist.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • October 26, 2021
    ...for a novel coronavirus in a historic global pandemic where the public health standards are emerging and changing. Mays v. Dart , 974 F.3d 810 (7th Cir. 2020), cert. denied , No. 20-990, ––– U.S. ––––, 142 S.Ct. 69, 211 L.Ed.2d 9 (U.S. Oct. 4, 2021).Thus, the CDC has consistently been cited......
  • Halgren v. City of Naperville
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
    • December 19, 2021
    ...both the district courts and ourselves that the ‘better than negligible’ standard was retired by the Supreme Court."); Mays v. Dart , 974 F.3d 810, 821 (7th Cir. 2020) (explaining that the "better than negligible" standard "is not the proper standard to apply when evaluating the likelihood ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
3 books & journal articles
    • United States
    • Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology Vol. 112 No. 2, March 2022
    • March 22, 2022
    ...Supp. 3d at 289 (quoting Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 846-47 (1994)). (178) O.M.G, 474 F. Supp. 3d at 289. (179) Compare Mays v. Dart, 974 F.3d 810, 820-21 (7th Cir. 2020) (concluding that courts should defer to the expert judgment of correctional facility administrators in matters impl......
    • United States
    • Case Western Reserve Law Review Vol. 72 No. 3, March 2022
    • March 22, 2022
    ...are quarantined, but declining to order further testing or quarantining of new detainees or to provide facemasks to all detainees), aff'd, 974 F.3d 810, 824 (7th Cir. 2020), cert. denied, 142 S. Ct. 69, 69 (2021); Criswell v. Boudreaux, No. 1:20-cv-1048, 2020 WL 5235675, at *25 (E.D. Cal. S......
  • Free-World Law Behind Bars.
    • United States
    • Yale Law Journal Vol. 131 No. 5, March 2022
    • March 1, 2022
    ...Kendrick, 527 F. Supp. 1252,1294-97 (S.D. W. Va. 1981). (35.) See Swain v. Junior, 961 F.3d 1276, 1287-89 (11th Cir. 2020); Mays v. Dart, 974 F.3d 810, 819-20 (7th Cir. 2020); see also Sanchez v. Brown, No. 3:20-cv-oo832-E, 2020 WL 2615931, at *18 (N.D. Tex. May 22,2020) (holding that a jai......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT