Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Tuesday, May 05, 2020

Swain: Staying Pending Appeal Preliminary Injunction of Metro West Related to COVID-19

In Swain v. Junior, No. 20-11622 (May 5, 2020) (per curiam) (Wilson, William Pryor, Branch), the Court stayed pending appeal a preliminary injunction directing Metro West to employ various safety measures to protect against spread of the virus and imposing various reporting requirements.

The Court concluded that Metro West is likely to prevail on appeal because the district court committed legal errors in analyzing the plaintiffs’ Eight Amendment deliberate indifferent claim, and little evidence showed that the jail was deliberately indifferent.  The Court also concluded that Metro West would suffer irreparable harm because the injunction deprives it of the discretion necessary to allocate resources to fight the pandemic as it sees fit.  As for the balance of harm and the public interest, the Court acknowledged that the virus posed risks to everyone including inmates, but they did not show irreparable harm that they would suffer without the injunction.  Finally, the Court also observed that the district court likely erred by refusing to address municipal liability and the PLRA’s exhaustion requirement.

Judge Wilson dissented, opining that he saw no abuse of discretion.