Hernandez Roman v. Wolf, No. 20-55436 (9th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
The Government challenges the district court's preliminary injunction entered in response to plaintiffs' claims that conditions at the Adelanto Immigration and Customs Enforcement Processing Center, where they were detained, placed them at unconstitutional risk of contracting COVID-19. After oral argument, 38 detainees had tested positive for COVID-19, over 300 were awaiting test results, and 9 had been hospitalized.
The Ninth Circuit affirmed in part the preliminary injunction order, holding that the district court was permitted to order the reduction of Adelanto's population, which may have required the release of some detainees, if such a remedy was necessary to cure the alleged constitutional violations. The panel also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by issuing some form of preliminary injunctive relief in response to plaintiffs' due process claims. The panel explained that, in light of the district court's factual findings which the Government has not shown to be clearly erroneous, the conditions at Adelanto in April 2020 violated detainees' due process right to reasonable safety where Adelanto was so crowded that social distancing to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus was impossible, detainees had inadequate access to masks, guards were not required to wear masks, there was not enough soap or hand sanitizer to go around, detainees were responsible for cleaning the facility with only dirty towels and dirty water, detainees were compelled to sleep with less than six feet of distance between them, and not all new arrivals were being properly quarantined or tested. The panel stated that the Government was aware of the risks and its inadequate response reflected a reckless disregard for detainee safety. Therefore, the district court rightly concluded that plaintiffs were likely to prevail on the merits. Furthermore, the district court correctly concluded that plaintiffs were likely to suffer irreparable harm absent relief given COVID-19's high mortality rate, and the equities and public interest tipped in plaintiffs' favor. The panel further held that the district court did not err by provisionally certifying a class of all Adelanto detainees. In light of the changed circumstances at Adelanto since the preliminary injunction was entered, the panel vacated in part and remanded in part for the district court to address the current circumstances.
This opinion or order relates to an opinion or order originally issued on September 23, 2020.