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Paul, Weiss, ACLU and Others Obtain Modification of Consent Decree Protecting Medically Vulnerable Pretrial Detainees

Paul, Weiss, along with co-counsel from the ACLU, ACLU Tennessee, Just City and local counsel from Memphis, obtained court approval of a proposed modification of a consent decree that ensures that a class of vulnerable pretrial detainees in Shelby County, Tennessee, will continue to receive court-mandated protections against COVID-19 until October 1, 2023.

In January 2021, Paul, Weiss and co-counsel obtained final approval of a class action settlement, which subjected the Shelby County Sheriff's Office to a consent decree requiring the implementation of important protections against COVID-19 for a class of medically vulnerable and disabled individuals detained pretrial at the Shelby County Men’s Jail who are at increased risk of serious injury or death from COVID-19. Protections include personal protective equipment, regular testing, vaccinations and boosters, adequate ventilation and air quality, COVID education efforts such as town halls and peer education, and regular inspections and evaluations by a court-appointed independent inspector.

As the world is gradually returning to pre-pandemic norms, medically vulnerable and disabled detainees in the jail continue to face heightened risks from COVID-19. After the plaintiffs filed a motion to enforce the consent decree and engaged in negotiation with opposing counsel, the parties agreed to modify the decree by, among other things, clarifying the decree’s termination language, and create certainty that the jail will continue to be monitored by the independent inspector and continue to satisfy its obligations to the detainees for the duration of the consent decree. On May 25, Judge Sheryl H. Lipman of the Western District of Tennessee granted the motion for the modification.

The Paul, Weiss team included litigation partners Joseph Bial and Roberto Finzi, and associates Ariane Rockoff-Kirk and Tiffany Gee Ching Lo.

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