HARTFORD – The U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut will allow a federal class action lawsuit seeking emergency action to protect people incarcerated by the State of Connecticut to proceed. In a ruling issued today, Judge Janet Bond Arterton denied a procedural motion filed by the State of Connecticut seeking to dismiss the lawsuit. With today’s action from the court, the lawsuit will be allowed to proceed based on the merits of the case.
“Time is a luxury that incarcerated people do not have during this pandemic, as the DOC’s response to COVID-19 has placed people in prisons and jails in grave, imminent danger. We are grateful that the federal court has swiftly rejected the State of Connecticut’s procedural shell game and will allow people who are incarcerated to have their day in court,” said Elana Bildner, staff attorney for the ACLU of Connecticut and an attorney on the case.
The federal class action lawsuit, McPherson et al v Lamont et al, was filed on behalf of all people incarcerated in Connecticut prisons and jails, seeking emergency action to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Connecticut Department of Correction (DOC) facilities. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of two classes: people whom the State of Connecticut is incarcerating pre-trial, and those the State is incarcerating post-sentence.
The lawsuit asks the Court to order Governor Ned Lamont and DOC Commissioner Rollin Cook to safely release medically vulnerable incarcerated people and to create a plan to protect any people who remain incarcerated, including a plan for release if socially distancing remains impossible.
Joining the ACLU of Connecticut in representing incarcerated people are Brandon Buskey from the national ACLU’s Criminal Law Reform Project, and Dechert LLP attorneys Will Sachse, Jonathan Tam, Jenna Newmark, and Gabrielle Piper from the firm’s Philadelphia, New York, and San Francisco offices.
For a copy of today’s decision: https://www.acluct.org/sites/default/files/37_2020-05-06_order_denying_motion_to_dismiss.pdf
For more information regarding the lawsuit, including affidavits from medical and public health experts and more than two dozen people who have been incarcerated by the State of Connecticut during the COVID-19 pandemic: https://www.acluct.org/en/cases/mcpherson-et-al-v-lamont-et-al