MDC Blackout: January 27 to February 3, 2019
Scott v. Quay, 19-cv-1075 (E.D.N.Y.)
Last Updated October 30th, 2023
If you were at the MDC during the blackout or know someone who was, please continue reading for more information about how to become involved in this lawsuit.
On February 22, 2019, plaintiffs David Scott and Jeremy Cerda, both of whom were detained at the Metropolitan Detention Center (“MDC”) in Brooklyn, NY, during the January 27 – February 3, 2019 blackout and crisis, filed a lawsuit against Warden Herman Quay in federal court in Brooklyn. The lawsuit, Scott v. Quay, included claims against the United States under the Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”). The FTCA allows individuals to file personal injury claims against the United States for property damage, injury, or death caused by a federal employee. The lawsuit is currently assigned to Judge Edward R. Korman and Magistrate Judge Peggy Kuo. It was previously assigned to Judge Margo K. Brodie and Magistrate Judge Steven M. Gold.
Updates on the Case
August 21, 2023 – Lawyers for plaintiffs announced a major settlement today with the United States of America valued at approximately $10 million for people incarcerated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons in the west building of the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York (“MDC”) during the eight-day blackout in the winter of 2019.
During the week from January 27, 2019 until February 3, 2019, as New York City suffered through a historic “polar vortex” of freezing weather, the MDC experienced a power outage. More than 1600 people were confined in dark, frigid conditions in the prison for a week, often locked in their cells for 24 hours a day, and without adequate food, medicine, clothing, blankets, or any way to communicate with their families. There was no electricity, frigid temperatures, no hot water, and the toilets did not flush.
“Taken together, this evidence paints a harrowing picture of prison conditions in the wake of the fire and power outage,” Judge Korman wrote in an earlier Order in the case. “In particular, the evidence describes a series of inhumane and potentially dangerous conditions that affected residents throughout the West Building during the week without power.”
Almost 1,600 individuals will be impacted by the settlement. The government has agreed to pay $8,750 to almost 1,000 claimants for suffering these inhumane conditions. It will pay an additional $8,750 to 69 people with untreated medical conditions. And it will pay $2500 for approximately 554 people who submitted late claims.
The case is called Scott v. United States and was filed in 2019 in federal court in the Eastern District of New York. Class Counsel are Emery Celli Brinckerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel LLP (Katherine Rosenfeld, O. Andrew F. Wilson, and Sara Estela), the Civil Rights Clinic of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law (Professor Betsy Ginsberg and clinic students), and Alexander A. Reinert.
People who were confined at the Metropolitan Detention Center during the blackout and who have questions about the settlement should contact email@example.com.
To review the settlement documents and for more information about the case, please visit MDCBlackout.com.
Notable Filings & Documents
- Amended Class Action Complaint
- Briefing on defendants’ motion to dismiss:
- Briefing on report & recommendation:
- Class Certification Order
- Settlement documents:
Other Frequently Asked Questions
Who Is Part of the Class Action? What Do I Do to Join the Class Action?
Every person who was confined at MDC during the crisis is a member of the potential class action. If you were confined in the MDC at that time, you are automatically a member of the potential class action if it is approved by the Court and if you choose to remain a part of it. So long as your SF-95 has already been filed, you do not have to do anything to continue to be a class member.
Who Are the Lawyers for the Class Action?
Emery Celli Brinckerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel LLP, the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law’s Civil Rights Clinic, and Alexander A. Reinert represent the plaintiffs and are seeking to represent the class of people who were harmed by the blackout.
What Does the Lawsuit Request for the Class Members?
As a class action, we will seek money for each person who was in the MDC between January 27, 2019 and February 3, 2019. The lawsuit does not ask for a specific amount because it is too early in the case.
For people who don’t want to be part of the class action, they will have an opportunity to “opt out” of the class action—in other words, each class member could decide not to be included in the class action.
We do not currently represent you individually in any claims you might have based on your time at the MDC. We also are not your criminal attorneys and cannot provide you with advice about your criminal case.
Will I Receive Money from the Lawsuit? How Much Money Could I Receive? Almost 1,600 individuals will be impacted by the settlement. The government has agreed to pay $8,750 to almost 1,000 claimants for suffering these inhumane conditions. It will pay an additional $8,750 to 69 people with untreated medical conditions. And it will pay $2500 for approximately 554 people who submitted late claims.
How Can I Contact the Lawyers for the Case?
If you have any questions related to this case that are not answered by this website, you can contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The lawyers for the plaintiffs at Emery Celli Brinckerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel are Katie Rosenfeld, Andrew Wilson, and Sara Estela. The lawyers for the plaintiffs at the Cardozo Law School’s Civil Rights Clinic are Professor Betsy Ginsberg. Alexander Reinert is another lawyer for the plaintiffs.
We will do our best to respond to every inquiry we receive. Because we anticipate receiving many questions, we ask that you do not contact us with inquiries regarding other grievances you might have that do not relate to the blackout at the MDC from January 27 to February 3, 2019. We hope you will refer to this website for the latest updates.
Last updated: October 30th, 2023