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Civil Rights

Women's Huron Valley (Mold)

Bailey v. Michigan Department of Corrections et al,
Court File No. 2:19-cv-13442 (E.D. Mich.)

On November 20, 2019, we filed a class action complaint against the Michigan Department of Corrections and related defendants in the Eastern District of Michigan. We have brought this case on behalf of former, current, and future inmates of Huron Valley Correctional Facility for Women (“WHV”).    

The complaint the women incarcerated in WHV suffer from ongoing exposure to harmful varieties of mold caused, which has been permitted to grow and fester inside WHV, due to failing and dilapidated infrastructure, unclean living conditions, and lack of proper ventilation. The complaint further alleges that the mold has caused respiratory infections, coughing, wheezing, rashes, dizziness, and fatigue, which may lead to serious, long-lasting physical effects, such as asthma, life-threatening secondary infections, insomnia, memory loss, trouble concentrating, and confusion. These women have complained for years about the conditions, and the defendants continuously have ignored their complaints and failed irradiate the mold or fix the failing infrastructure that allows it to thrive.

This is a civil rights class action, brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, challenging the inhumane, dangerous, and unconstitutional conditions endured by the women locked inside WHV. The plaintiffs on behalf of themselves and members of the proposed Classes seek monetary damages and injunctive and declaratory relief.

Nichols Kaster, PLLP has partnered with Marko Law, PLLC, Pitt McGehee Palmer & Rivers, PC, Law Offices of David S. Steingold, PLLP, and Excolo Law, PLLC on this matter.

Type of Case

Prisoner Rights

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Am I eligible?

This case seeks to represent a class of all former, current, and future detainees and inmates in WHV who, while incarcerated at WHV, were exposed to dangerous varieties of mold known to cause serious illness and injury. If you have questions about whether you are included in these classes, contact us.

Additional Information

What is a Class Action?

In a class action lawsuit, one or more people, called the “class representatives,” sue on behalf of themselves and other people who have similar claims. Together, this group of people is called a “class” or “class members.” The class representative and the class members together are called the “Plaintiffs.” The companies they sue are called the “Defendants.” The judge or jury resolves the claims for everyone in the class—except those who ask to be excluded from the lawsuit.

How Long Will This Case Take?

Class actions can often take years.  Please check this page periodically for updates on the case’s status.

How Do I Join This Case?

As part of our investigatory efforts, we are interested in speaking with others who are or were incarcerated at Huron Valley Correctional Facility and believe they were treated unlawfully.

You may contact us toll free at 1-877-448-0492, write to us at Nichols Kaster, PLLP, 4600 IDS Center, 80 South Eighth Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402, or email Attorney Nicole Schladt at nschladt@nka.com.

Case Updates

  • November 21, 2019

    Nichols Kaster Files Lawsuit on Behalf of Incarcerated Women to Challenge Inhumane Mold Conditions at Huron Valley Correctional Facility

    Nichols Kaster together with co-counsel filed a federal lawsuit against the Michigan Department of Corrections, its Director Heidi Washington, and eleven other individuals alleging "dangerous living conditions" at Michigan’s only women's prison located in Ypsilanti, Michigan.  

    According to the new class action complaint, the facility is in such a dilapidated condition that, when it rains, water pours into the building and sits stagnant and then creates mold.  One worker reported that the roof leaked so badly that it shorted out the lights.  Others reported the mold in the ceiling being so bad that when it rained, the water coming out of the moldy ceiling was brown and "it looked like coffee coming out of the ceiling."  To make matters worse, the exhaust systems at the prison are broken and inadequate, thus providing "an environment conducive for the mold to develop and grow throughout the facility".  

    The prisoners have been showing signs of symptoms of mold exposure for years, and their complaints have gone ignored.  Not only that, but the MDOC employees who work there are also exposed to the conditions on a daily basis.

    Exposure to mold spores can cause symptoms such as skin rash and itching, respiratory infections, headaches, dizziness, nosebleeds, nasal stuffiness, throat irritation, coughing, watery eyes, or wheezing. Mold exposure may also lead to muscle cramps, numbness in extremities, weight gain, light sensitivity, and hair loss. Some individuals develop serious infections in their lungs when they are exposed to mold, causing shortness of breath, chest tightness, and diseases like pneumonia or a pulmonary hemorrhage.  Mold exposure may also lead to or contribute to insomnia, anxiety, depression, loss of appetite, confusion, and trouble concentrating. Long-term exposure to toxic mold can affect the brain and lead to nervous-system challenges and cognitive and emotional impairments.

    The lawsuit is seeking monetary relief and a court order to force the MDOC to make the prison safe.  It has already attracted much attention, and has been covered by the Detroit News, the Detroit Free Press, and Detroit ABC WXYZ.

    Plaintiffs are represented by Rebekah Bailey, Matthew Morgan, and Nicole Schladt.  Nichols Kaster is working together with Marko Law, Pitt McGehee, Steingold Law, and Excolo Law.  The attorneys also represent a putative class of women impacted by the reoccurring scabies outbreaks at WHV.

    For further information, please contact our clerk Jake Smith at 612-256-3253.

    Photo by Ye Jinghan on Unsplash

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