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Statement on Covid-19 Prison Lawsuit


Contact: Chris Gautz, 517-256-3790              






LANSING, MICH. On Tuesday, June 9, 2020, the United States Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of Wilson v. Williams held that the Elkton Federal Correctional Institution (Elkton) had “responded reasonably to the risk” of the COVID-19 pandemic and therefore did not act in “deliberate indifference” of a serious health risk. According to the opinion, Elkton had taken “preventative measures, including screening for symptoms, educating staff and inmates about COVID-19, cancelling visitation, quarantining new inmates, implementing regular cleaning, providing disinfectant supplies, and providing masks.”

In light of the Sixth Circuit’s opinion, the plaintiffs in Abrams v. Washington, et al have agreed to stay the litigation and withdraw their Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction against the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC), and the Court subsequently entered an Order staying the case, withdrawing the Motion and further ordering that if the Wilson case is not reversed or modified on appeal, Plaintiffs will dismiss the case.

The MDOC is proud to state it has acted in a manner that far exceeds the reasonable response standard articulated in the Wilson case. The department was incredibly proactive and acted swiftly and effectively in minimizing the spread of COVID-19 in its correctional facilities. Throughout, the department met or exceeded CDC guidelines.

The MDOC implemented and enforced a comprehensive response to the pandemic including taking unprecedented cleaning and hygiene measures, suspending visitation, testing every prisoner in the department, screening everyone who came to a facility, creating isolation areas, requiring prisoners and staff to wear masks and providing free masks to them, enacting and enforcing social distancing and educating prisoners and staff about the department’s protocols.