Detained Immigrants Seek Federal Court Order to Gain Access to Soap, Sanitizer, PPE Amid COVID-19 Outbreak at Privately Run Detention Facilities

Dallas-based Burns Charest represents immigrants in seeking TRO

RIVERSIDE, California – Class representatives of thousands of detained immigrants currently housed in private prison facilities operated by the GEO Group (NYSE:GEO) are seeking an emergency order from the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California to protect their health and safety in light of the growing COVID-19 crisis.

According to the motion for a temporary restraining order filed late yesterday, GEO Group officials have failed to provide personal protective equipment, soap, and sanitizer for detainees who are forced to clean and sanitize common areas in the company’s facilities across the nation.

The motion alleges that any inmates refusing to comply with the company’s directives face solitary confinement and other serious harm. But compliance with GEO’s program, the motion says, puts detainees in extreme risk of exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19.

Late last year the court certified class action litigation against the company based on detainees’ claims of forced labor and wage theft.

“The court certified a nationwide class to put an end to the illegal use of unpaid, forced labor that drives GEO’s profits,” said Daniel Charest of Burns Charest LLP, one of the attorneys for the class. “Now with the spread of COVID-19, GEO’s unlawful practices could turn deadly. This has to stop now.”

To address the risk of exposure to COVID-19, the class seeks an order requiring GEO to stop using detainee labor on general sanitation tasks or, in the alternative, to provide protective clothing and antiseptic supplies when performing the tasks. The filing also demands testing for COVID-19.

The case is Novoa, et al. v. The GEO Group, Inc., Case No. 5:17-cv-02514 (C.D. Cal.).

Burns Charest represents clients in large, complex class actions; antitrust cases; oil and gas royalty disputes; environmental pollution cases; mass torts; and asbestos exposure claims. The firm has offices in Dallas, New Orleans and Denver. To learn more, visit

Media Contact:
Barry Pound

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