On March 4, 2003, plaintiff, an indigent resident of Philadelphia incarcerated for failure to pay traffic fines, filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of himself and all those similarly situated in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against ...
read more >
On March 4, 2003, plaintiff, an indigent resident of Philadelphia incarcerated for failure to pay traffic fines, filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of himself and all those similarly situated in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against the City of Philadelphia. The plaintiff, represented by private counsel, alleged that defendant's practices, resulting in the incarceration of indigent residents that failed to pay traffic fines violated the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments. The plaintiff sought a declaratory judgment that the practices violated the plaintiffs' rights, an injunction enjoining the alleged practices, compensatory and punitive damages, and attorneys' fees.
Specifically, the plaintiff alleged that his and others' rights were violated by the City's practice of arresting individuals for alleged Motor Vehicle Code violations and then subjecting them to incarceration following Philadelphia Traffic Court proceedings conducted without the assistance of counsel, notice of specific charges against them, opportunity to prepare a defense, cross-examine witnesses, or offer evidence on their own behalf. The plaintiff and other members of the class were allegedly not released until they paid substantial amounts of money to satisfy fines levied against them.
On March 18, 2003, the District Court (Judge Timothy J. Savage) ordered that no defendant brought before The Philadelphia Traffic Court shall be ordered incarcerated for failure to post bail or security pending a trial at which the defendant shall be afforded the right to counsel and shall be advised of his or her right to appeal to the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.
On June 11, 2003, the parties submitted a settlement agreement. Subsequently, on July 8, 2003, the District Court (Judge Savage) issued a settlement order resolving the case. The settlement order, pursuant to the parties' settlement agreement, certified the proposed class solely as to the issues of declaratory and injunctive relief and acknowledged that the parties had engaged in serious, good faith negotiations relating to the establishment of procedures to resolve the issues related to the class action. More specific terms of the settlement agreement are not readily available. Brendan Brown - 10/03/2014