Coronavirus Order For Miami Detention Facility Dashed on Appeal

June 15, 2020, 9:13 PM

A jail within the Miami-Dade County system doesn’t have to abide by the coronavirus-related requirements of a trial court’s order, a split Eleventh Circuit said Monday.

The Miami Metro West Detention Center has undertaken a series of responses that addresses the risk Covid-19 poses to inmates under its care, Judge Kevin C. Newsom said for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.

That means that the inmates that have brought the lawsuit aren’t likely to succeed on their claims that the facility is being deliberately indifferent to their risk of infection during the course of the pandemic, the appeals court said.

The trial court’s order had been based on faulty projections on the spread of the coronavirus within the facility and the alleged impossibility of social distancing, it said.

The decision is the latest in group of appeals court decisions that have said a detention facility’s efforts to mitigate and address the spread of the respiratory virus among inmates and civil immigration detainees shows that the decision makers have tried to address the risk of infection.

Officials at the Metro West facility had, for example, provided increased access to cleaning supplies, made efforts to decrease the inmate population, and posted a series of multilingual notices about the disease, the court said. it vacated the trial court’s preliminary injunction and remanded the case for further proceedings.

District Judge W. Keith Watkins, sitting by designation, joined the opinion.

Judge Beverly B. Martin dissented in a separate written opinion. She would have upheld the preliminary injunction on the grounds that the inmates are likely to succeed on their deliberate indifference claims.

The Miami-Dade County Attorney’s Office represented Metro West.

Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr LLP, DLA Piper LLP, GST LLP, Civil Rights Corps, and the Advancement Project represented the Metro West inmates.

The case is Swain v. Junior, 11th Cir., No. 20-11622, 6/15/20.

To contact the reporter on this story: Porter Wells in Washington at pwells@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com

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