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Abriq v. Metropolitan Government of Nashville/Davidson County

United States District Court, M.D. Tennessee, Nashville Division

May 7, 2018

ABDULLAH ABRIQ, On behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,



         Pending before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Class Certification (Doc. No. 94). For the reasons stated herein, Plaintiff's Motion is DENIED.


         This action challenges the constitutionality of Defendant Metropolitan Government of Nashville/Davidson County's policy of detaining immigrants subject to detainers from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”). Plaintiff's remaining claim is for violation of his Fourth Amendment rights.[1]

         The First Amended Complaint (Doc. No. 26) alleges that ICE[2] arrested Plaintiff pending civil removal proceedings, without a warrant and without probable cause, and that that arrest was a “seizure” within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. Plaintiff alleges that ICE then transferred custody of Plaintiff to Defendant (at the Davidson County Jail), which effectuated a new “seizure” of Plaintiff by Defendant, without probable cause and without a warrant. Plaintiff contends that Defendant had no lawful authorization to provide immigration detention services from August 2012 (when its agreement with ICE expired) forward and, thus, no authorization to detain him. Plaintiff also asserts that Defendant has used Davidson County facilities unlawfully to detain hundreds of immigration detainees like him since its agreement with ICE expired in 2012. Plaintiff seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, plus the creation of an equitable or constructive trust.

         Plaintiff asks the Court through his motion, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(a) and 23(b)(2), to certify a class of persons defined as follows:

From April 7, 2016 forward, all individuals who have been, are being, or will be housed by the DCSO [Davidson County Sheriff's Office] on behalf of Metro Nashville on federal civil immigration charges for Immigration and Customs Enforcement in return for compensation from the federal government.

Doc. No. 94.[3]


         In order to certify a class, the Court must be satisfied that Plaintiff has met the requirements of both Rule 23(a) and Rule 23(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 23(a) establishes four requirements for class certification: (1) the class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable;[4] (2) there are questions of law or fact common to the class; (3) the claims or defenses of the representative parties are typical of those of the class; and (4) the representative parties will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class. Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(a). To meet the requirements of Rule 23(b)(2), a plaintiff must show that the defendant has acted or refused to act on grounds that apply generally to the class, so that final injunctive relief or corresponding declaratory relief is appropriate respecting the class as a whole. Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(b)(2).

         A class action will be certified only if, after rigorous analysis, the Court is satisfied that the prerequisites of Rule 23(a) have been met and that the action falls within one of the categories under Rule 23(b). Castillo v. Envoy Corp., 206 F.R.D. 464, 467-68 (M.D. Tenn. 2002); Burges v. Bancorpsouth, Inc., 2017 WL 2772122 at * 2 (M.D. Tenn. June 26, 2017). The decision whether to certify a class, committed to the sound discretion of the district judge, turns on the particular facts and circumstances of each individual case. In re Whirlpool Corp. Front-Loading Washers Product Liability Litig., 722 F.3d 838, 850 (6th Cir. 2013). The parties seeking class certification bear the burden of showing that the requirements for class certification are met. Bridging Communities Inc. v. Top Flite Financial Inc., 843 F.3d 1119, 1124 (6th Cir. 2016); Skeete v. RePublic Schools Nashville, 2017 WL 2989189 at * 2 (M.D. Tenn. Mar. 21, 2017).

         Plaintiff asserts that there are numerous common facts, many of which are undisputed. With regard to common questions of law, Plaintiff asserts that the following issues are common to all the proposed class:

(1) whether Defendant was authorized to continue housing immigration detainees for ICE after the 2007-2012 agreement expired;
(2) whether, in the absence of a valid agreement, Defendant effectuated an independent “seizure” of each class member when housing that class member as a ...

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