In 2010, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials in Washington contacted the ACLU of Texas to advise us that female detainees held at the T. Don Hutto Detention Facility in Taylor, Texas, were sexually abused by a guard employed by the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), a private for‐profit prison management company that operates the facility under contract with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
The women were reportedly groped and threatened with further violation. In 2011, the ACLU of Texas filed a suit in district court seeking class action damages on behalf of several plaintiffs. The case had been set for trial, but the federal court sua sponte issued a ruling dismissing the case without prejudice for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The court reasoned that all of the federal claims in the case had been dismissed, depriving the court of jurisdiction.
However, the plaintiffs had alleged diversity jurisdiction, such that the pendency of federal causes of action is irrelevant. The cooperating attorneys handling the litigation appealed the dismissal and filed a negligence action in state court to preserve the plaintiffs’ right to proceed there if necessary.