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Case Name J.W. v. Roper PN-AL-0004
Docket / Court 2:10-cv-03314-AKK ( N.D. Ala. )
State/Territory Alabama
Case Type(s) Policing
Attorney Organization Southern Poverty Law Center
Case Summary
On December 1, 2010, plaintiffs, high school students in the Birmingham City Schools (BCS), filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against the Birmingham Board of Education (BOE) and the Birmingham Police Department (BPD), ... read more >
On December 1, 2010, plaintiffs, high school students in the Birmingham City Schools (BCS), filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against the Birmingham Board of Education (BOE) and the Birmingham Police Department (BPD), and several BPD . The plaintiffs alleged that the School Resource Officers (SROs), police officers who worked in the high schools, had repeatedly used pepper spray on students in order to enforce school discipline. The plaintiffs, represented by the Southern Poverty Law Center, brought a class action suit, on behalf of all current and future BCS high school students, for declaratory and injunctive relief. Specifically, the plaintiffs alleged that pepper spraying students on campus violated the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution as well as state tort law. They asked the court to enjoin the defendants from continuing this practice. In addition to the class claims, plaintiffs also brought individual claims for compensatory damages as a result of being pepper sprayed.

The case was initially assigned to Chief Judge Sharon Lovelace Blackburn who recused herself on May 19, 2011. It was reassigned to Judge Abdul K. Kallon. On July 20, 2011, Judge Kallon dismissed a few claims against the assistant high school principal and dismissed all remaining claims against the BCS Superintendent and the BOE, by granting in part and denying in part the school defendants' motion to dismiss. In light of that decision, that same day, the court denied plaintiffs' motion for class certification without prejudice, allowing the plaintiffs to refile the motion with an amended complaint.

On August 31, 2012, the Judge Kallon granted plaintiffs' motion for class certification. 2012 WL 3849032. The Chief of the BPD and the SROs petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit for permission to appeal the class certification order.

On September 25, 2012, Judge Kallon denied the police defendants' motion to stay further class action proceedings pending the resolution of the appeal. However, the court decided, on its own, to stay all proceedings in the case because it planned to deny police defendants' and the assistant high school principal's earlier motions for summary judgement based on immunity grounds. Staying the proceedings, the court reasoned, would give the defendants the opportunity to appeal their qualified immunity defenses. On October 3, 2012, as promised, Judge Kallon denied the motions for summary judgment based on qualified immunity, while granting summary judgment on a few claims against the Chief of the BPD.

Both the assistant principal and the police defendants appealed the district court's partial denial of the motions for summary judgment based on qualified immunity. Meanwhile, on December 20, 2012, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals denied permission to the police defendants to appeal the class certification order. This meant that the class action claims could continue.

A few months later, the assistant high school principal reached a settlement with the plaintiffs settling all district court claims and all claims and issues on appeal. Both sides bore their own costs. As a result, on February 22, 2013, the Eleventh Circuit dismissed the assistant principal's appeal of the district court order denying summary judgment on immunity grounds. And on April 16, 2013, the District Court (Judge Abdul K. Kallon) dismissed the claims against the assistant principal; the only remaining defendants were the Chief of the BPD and the SROs.

On September 19, 2013, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's decision that the SROs were not entitled to qualified immunity and dismissed the remaining claims for lack of appellate jurisdiction. J.W. v. Roper, 541 Fed. Appx. 937 (11th Cir. 2013) (per curiam). The parties resumed discovery in the district court on plaintiffs' remaining claims.

Judge Kallon held a twelve day bench trial in late January and early February 2015. As of March 15, 2015, the district court has not issued a decision in the case.

David Hamstra - 03/14/2015


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Unreasonable search and seizure
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Law-enforcement
General
Aggressive behavior
Assault/abuse by staff
Excessive force
Failure to train
Juveniles
Pepper/OC spray
Restraints : chemical
Plaintiff Type
City/County Plaintiff
Causes of Action State law
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Birmingham Board of Education
Birmingham Police Department
Plaintiff Description The class includes all current and future high school students in the Birmingham City Schools. A few current high school students also filed individual claims.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Southern Poverty Law Center
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Declaratory Judgment
Attorneys fees
Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief None yet
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Federal Enforcement of Police Reform
By: Stephen Rushin (University of Illinois College of Law, University of California, Berkeley - Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program )
Citation: 82 Fordham Law Review 3189 (2014)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Panopticism for Police: Structural Reform Bargaining and Police Regulation by Data-Driven Surveillance
By: Mary D. Fan (University of Washington)
Citation: Forthcoming, 87 Washington L. Rev. __ (2012).
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  What Happens When Police Are Forced to Reform?
Written: Nov. 13, 2015
By: Kimbriell Kelly, Sarah Childress and Steven Rich (Frontline/Post)
Citation: Washington Post (Nov. 13, 2015)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
2:10-cv-03314 (N.D. Ala.) 03/04/2015
PN-AL-0004-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint 12/01/2010
PN-AL-0004-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion 07/20/2011 (N.D. Ala.)
PN-AL-0004-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 07/20/2011 (N.D. Ala.)
PN-AL-0004-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum and Opinion Order 08/31/2012 (2012 WL 3849032 / 2012 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 124183) (N.D. Ala.)
PN-AL-0004-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Corrected Third Amended Complaint 09/10/2012
PN-AL-0004-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Order 10/03/2012 (N.D. Ala.)
PN-AL-0004-0006.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Per Curiam Opinion 09/19/2013 (541 Fed.Appx. 937)
PN-AL-0004-0007.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Black, Susan Harrell (M.D. Fla., Eleventh Circuit)
PN-AL-0004-0007
Blackburn, Sharon Lovelace (N.D. Ala.)
PN-AL-0004-9000
Edenfield, Berry Avant (S.D. Ga.)
PN-AL-0004-0007
Kallon, Abdul Karim (N.D. Ala.)
PN-AL-0004-0003 | PN-AL-0004-0004 | PN-AL-0004-0005 | PN-AL-0004-0006 | PN-AL-0004-9000
Martin, Beverly Baldwin (N.D. Ga., Eleventh Circuit)
PN-AL-0004-0007
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bauer, Mary C. (Virginia)
PN-AL-0004-0001 | PN-AL-0004-0002 | PN-AL-0004-9000
Graunke, Kristi L. (Georgia)
PN-AL-0004-9000
Howard, Ebony G. (Alabama)
PN-AL-0004-0001 | PN-AL-0004-0002 | PN-AL-0004-9000
Johnson, Jadine (Alabama)
PN-AL-0004-0002 | PN-AL-0004-9000
Katzerman, Jerri (Alabama)
PN-AL-0004-9000
Menschel, Brooke (Alabama)
PN-AL-0004-9000
Morris, Maria V. (Alabama)
PN-AL-0004-0002 | PN-AL-0004-9000
Nong, Dominique (Alabama)
PN-AL-0004-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Bentley, Thomas III (Alabama)
PN-AL-0004-9000
Boardman, Mark S. (Alabama)
PN-AL-0004-9000
Carr, Clay Richard (Alabama)
PN-AL-0004-9000
Choy, Michael K K (Alabama)
PN-AL-0004-9000
Fullerton, Frederic L II (Alabama)
PN-AL-0004-9000
King, Nicole E. (Alabama)
PN-AL-0004-9000
Latta, Forrest S. (Alabama)
PN-AL-0004-9000
Lawson, Mark M. (Alabama)
PN-AL-0004-9000
Patton, Javan J. (Alabama)
PN-AL-0004-9000
Relfe, Julien Mitchell (Alabama)
PN-AL-0004-9000
Shirley, Elizabeth Bosquet (Alabama)
PN-AL-0004-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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