On April 5, 2000, a pre-trial detainee represented by private counsel filed a class action civil rights lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, challenging the Hamilton County Prisoner Reimbursement Policy, also known as the "Pay-for-Stay" Program. The program required inmates to reimburse Hamilton County for expenses incurred by reason of that person's confinement, including a $30.00 "Book-in-Fee." When detainees were booked, $30 in cash was taken from detainees' personal property to cover the fee. Plaintiff alleged that the policies were tantamount to the taking of personal property without due process of law, in violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. The policy was enacted pursuant to Ohio Revised Code § 341.06, the "Prisoner Reimbursement Policy," which authorized county sheriffs to seek reimbursement from pretrial detainees and convicted prisoners related to the administrative costs of their confinement.
Plaintiff sought compensatory and punitive damages and moved for injunctive relief and class certification. The Ohio Attorney General moved to intervene in the case. Hamilton County in turn moved for summary judgment. All motions were argued at a hearing on May 10, 2001.
In a lengthy order dated Jun 19, 2001, the District Court (Senior District Judge S. Arthur Spiegel) found that factual issues precluded summary judgment. The Court denied the request for a preliminary injunction, noting that parties advised that the County had refunded all but less than 3% of the funds it seized. Plaintiff withdrew his requested relief for compensatory and punitive damages in this case, and sought only an Order of Restitution to reimburse Plaintiff for the "confiscated funds" that were taken by the County and not returned. The Attorney General was allowed to intervene. Ruling on class certification was deferred. Defendants' motion for summary judgment was granted to the extent it rested upon their claim of qualified immunity shielding them from individual liability. Allen v. Leis, 154 F.Supp.2d 1240 (S.D. Ohio 2001).
On November 20, 2001, the District Court certified the case as a class action, defining the class as "all persons whose funds were confiscated before conviction under the Hamilton County Pay-to-Stay Program." Allen v. Leis, 204 F.R.D. 401 (S.D. Ohio 2001). Defendants sought leave to appeal the certification ruling, but the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals refused to entertain the appeal.
Plaintiff then moved for partial summary judgment on the issue of liability. Judge Spiegel granted plaintiff's motion, finding that the state statute authorizing reimbursement from convicted prisoners of certain incarceration-related expenses was not unconstitutional but, as implemented by the County and as a matter of law, the Hamilton County Pay-For-Stay Program failed to afford prisoners due process (by taking their money pre-conviction, i.e., before any reimbursement obligation existed) and was, therefore, unconstitutional. Allen v. Leis, 213 F. Supp.2d 819 (S.D.Ohio 2002); see also Allen v. Leis, 2002 WL 1752279 (S.D. Ohio July 12, 2002) (having been found liable, defendants required to pay class notification expenses).
Settlement negotiations followed and the parties ultimately resolved the case. On February 11, 2003, the Court preliminarily approved the settlement and modified the class certification to cover a class composed of all persons who had funds of $1.00 or more taken pursuant to the Hamilton County pay-to-stay program from 8/18/98 to 4/29/02 and whose conviction, if any, had not been expunged pursuant to Chapter 2953 of Ohio Revised Code.
Following a fairness hearing on May 1, 2003, the Court entered final judgment (dated June 25, 2003) approving the proposed class settlement. The settlement terms were not reflected in the PACER docket entries and were not otherwise made available.
Judge Spiegel had entered a separate agreed order on June 12, 2003, wherein defendants agreed to pay $57,080.75 as payment in full for all attorneys' fees and costs. Additional fees were possible if the parties needed to litigate any individual class claims for payment.
Administration of the settlement was closed on March 23, 2004. We have no information indicating further activity in the case.Dan Dalton - 02/24/2008