On November 2, 2004, two former inmates of Homerville, Georgia's Clinch County Jail filed a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, challenging the policy of charging Jail inmates fees for room and board. Plaintiffs, represented by the ...
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On November 2, 2004, two former inmates of Homerville, Georgia's Clinch County Jail filed a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, challenging the policy of charging Jail inmates fees for room and board. Plaintiffs, represented by the Southern Center for Human Rights and a private law firm, maintained that the 30-year-old practice violated the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, as well as the Georgia Constitution and Georgia common law. They sought reimbursement for fees paid, declaratory and injunctive relief, and class certification.
On November 18, 2004, the defendants consented to the entry of a preliminary injunction, which halted the challenged policy pending further litigation.
The parties engaged in discovery throughout 2005. On May 19, 2005, the District Court (Judge Hugh Lawson) permitted Plaintiffs to file an amended complaint and to extend the discovery cut-off date. Williams v. Clinch County, Ga., 231 F.R.D. 700 (M.D.Ga. 2005). Plaintiffs' motion to certify the class was denied on September 30, 2005. Shortly thereafter, the parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment and Plaintiffs renewed their motion for class certification. Prior to ruling on those motions, the District Court (Judge Lawson) stayed all proceedings in the case and referred the parties to mediation before Magistrate Judge G. Mallon Faircloth.
Following mediation, the parties settled the case and agreed to a Consent Order, which was entered by Judge Lawson on April 14, 2006. Under the Consent Order, Clinch County agreed (a) to reimburse the named plaintiffs for any fees charged at any time preceding entry of the preliminary injunction and (b) to reimburse all other inmates for any fees charged during the 4-year period preceding the entry of the preliminary injunction. The County further agreed to refrain from charging inmates in the future. In addition, $30,000 in attorneys' fees and costs was awarded to Plaintiffs.Dan Dalton - 02/18/2008