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Case Name Telleria v. Cooley IM-AL-0003
Docket / Court 96-2220JWB ( State Court )
State/Territory Alabama
Case Type(s) Immigration
Case Summary
On December 31, 1996, attorneys with the Southern Poverty Law Center filed suit on pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in Madison County, Alabama against the Madison County, Alabama Tax Assessor for his refusal to grant homestead tax exemptions to plaintiffs Julio and Carmen Telleria because they did not ... read more >
On December 31, 1996, attorneys with the Southern Poverty Law Center filed suit on pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in Madison County, Alabama against the Madison County, Alabama Tax Assessor for his refusal to grant homestead tax exemptions to plaintiffs Julio and Carmen Telleria because they did not speak English. Plaintiffs, who were U.S. Citizens of Hispanic descent, were told by the Tax Assessor that they had to recite an oral oath in English in order to obtain the homestead tax exemptions. It was alleged that the Tax Assessor routinely used racial slurs to describe immigrants and minorities and also required non-English speaking immigrant homeowners to pay in taxes twice what English-speaking homeowners paid.

Plaintiffs alleged that the "English Only" policy was intentional racial and national origin discrimination in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and could be remedied pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, 42 U.S.C. § 1981 and Article I, § 1 of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901. Plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as compensatory and punitive damages for the defendant's unlawful conduct.

The case was eventually settled. Under the terms of the Settlement Agreement, the Tax Assessor issued homestead exemptions and tax reimbursements for plaintiffs and another immigrant homeowner. The Tax Assessor also agreed to stop further discrimination and to immediately implement a policy in regard to property owners who did not speak English.

On November 23, 1999, Circuit Court Judge Laura W. Hamilton issued an order adopting the terms of the settlement.

Dan Dalton - 12/12/2007


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Discrimination-basis
Language discrimination
National origin discrimination
Immigration
Constitutional rights
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Tax Assessor, Madison County, Alabama
Plaintiff Description Two U.S. Citizens who were denied homestead tax exemptions to because they did not speak English.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 1999 - n/a
Case Closing Year 1999
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Threats to the Future of the Immigration Class Action
Washington University Journal of Law and Policy
By: Jill E. Family (Widener University School of Law)
Citation: 27 Wash. U. J.L. & Pol'y 71 (2008)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
Plaintiffs' Second Amended Complaint 03/20/1998
IM-AL-0003-0001.pdf | Detail
Settlement Agreement 11/23/1999
IM-AL-0003-0002.pdf | Detail
Order 11/23/1999
IM-AL-0003-0003.pdf | Detail
Judges Hamilton, Laura W. (State Trial Court)
IM-AL-0003-0003
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Brownstein, Rhonda C. (Alabama)
IM-AL-0003-0002
Cohen, J. Richard (Alabama)
IM-AL-0003-0002
Keith, Rebecca (Alabama)
IM-AL-0003-0002
Messer, William Z. (Alabama)
IM-AL-0003-0001 | IM-AL-0003-0002
Stadeker, Marcia Bull (Alabama)
IM-AL-0003-0001
Defendant's Lawyers Butler, Julian D. (Alabama)
IM-AL-0003-0002
Rich, J. Jeffrey (Alabama)
IM-AL-0003-0002
Other Lawyers None on record

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