Correctional Officers working at the D.C. Jail have filed a Class Action Lawsuit against the District of Columbia and the D.C. Jail. The lawsuit alleges that the District’s failure to protect Correctional Officers from infection by COVID-19, and possible death, violates the District’s obligation to provide a safe workplace to its employees.
The lawsuit seeks an award of penalties against the District and the D.C. Jail amounting to $10,000 per violation, per Correctional Officer, and per day. These violations began on February 28, 2020. As a result, the Mayor activated the Emergency Operations Center. Additionally, she ordered all D.C. agencies to implement the District Response Plan to continue operations safely in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The potential award could reach well into the millions of dollars.
In addition, the lawsuit seeks an immediate order from the Superior Court to require the District and the D.C. Jail to provide Personal Protective Equipment to all Correctional Officers and inmates, as well as the implementation of CDC protocols for educating Officers and inmates how to respond to the crisis. In addition, the lawsuit demands complete disinfection of the D.C. Jail and the creation of an emergency hospital space for infected and quarantined inmates.
The lawsuit follows by only a few hours an oral report by Amici Curiae provided to the United States District Court Judge overseeing the federal lawsuit filed there by inmates. In that oral report, as described in the Correctional Officers’ lawsuit, the Amici Curiae describe dirty cells and Housing Units; soiled inmate clothing; soiled, ill-fitting and unconventional face masks being used by staff and inmates; broken sinks and toilets; inadequate medical documentation of inmate symptoms; isolation of infected inmates in their cells 24/7 without contact with the outside world; and, a greatly diminished staff caused by COVID-19.
You can read the full press release here.