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7th Circuit: Reverse and Remand “Inherently Transitory” Complaint

On February 4, 2010, the 7th Circuit reversed and remanded a district court ruling dismissing as moot a case alleging various constitutional and state law violations against Tippecanoe County, Indiana Sheriff Tracy Brown. The initial complaint was filed on January 2, 2009 by prisoner Jeffery Olson along with a motion for class certification after he exhausted administrative remedies at the Tippecanoe County Jail (TCJ) where he was housed at the time. Just 13 days after his filing, and prior to class certification, Olson was transferred to another facility. On June 23, 2009, the district court ruled Olson’s transfer away from TCJ rendered his complaint moot.

On appeal, the 7th Circuit determined Olsen’s filing for class certification saved the cause of action from dismissal as moot if it falls within the mootness doctrine described in Gerstein v. Pugh, 420 U.S. 103 (1975). The court further held that Olson’s complaint met the “inherently transitory” criteria in that “the constant existence of a class of persons suffering the alleged deprivation is certain, and the court may safely assume that counsel has other clients with a continuing live interest in the issues.” Therefore, the district court’s dismissal was reversed, and the case was remanded for consideration of class certification. See: Olson v. Brown, 594 F.3d 577, (7th Cir. 2010).

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Related legal case

Olson v. Brown