On February 8, 2015, this case was brought against the City of Ferguson in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, by impoverished persons who were jailed for failing to pay legal fines imposed on them by the City. Plaintiffs made a number of allegations against Ferguson, ...
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On February 8, 2015, this case was brought against the City of Ferguson in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, by impoverished persons who were jailed for failing to pay legal fines imposed on them by the City. Plaintiffs made a number of allegations against Ferguson, including: (1) that the City failed to conduct an inquiry into whether plaintiffs were able to pay their fines before jailing them, in violation of the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment (2) that the City failed to provide plaintiffs with legal counsel during the proceedings leading to their incarceration, in violation of the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments (3) that the City jailed plaintiffs indefinitely and without an adequate legal process through which they could challenge their detention, in violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment (4) that the squalid and unhealthy conditions of Ferguson's jail constituted Cruel and Unusual Punishment, in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments (5) that the City used jail time and the threat of jail time to deny plaintiffs the substantive and procedural protections that Missouri debtors would have against private creditors, in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment (6) that the City issued arrest warrants against impoverished persons for failure to pay traffic fines without any finding of probable cause, in violation the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, and (7) that the City detained plaintiffs arrested without a valid warrant for an extended period without a legitimate government interest, in violation the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments.
Represented by the public interest group Equal Justice Under Law, by lawyers from St. Louis University School of Law, and by private counsel, plaintiffs brought suit under 42 U.S.C §1983, 28 U.S.C. § 2201. They asked the court to grant them class action certification to represent similarly situated impoverished persons, to declare that the Ferguson's practices and policies violated the U.S Constitution, to issue injunctive relief requiring Ferguson to change its practices and policies to stop violating the U.S. Constitution, to order that Ferguson grant plaintiffs compensation for the harm they suffered as a result of the city's practices and policies, and to order that Ferguson pay plaintiffs’ costs and attorneys’ fees.
On May 26, 2015, the judge assigned to the case, District Judge Audrey G. Fleissig, granted defendants’ motion to dismiss in part, dismissing plaintiffs’ claims (5) and (6). 2015 WL 3417420. However, on July 13, 2015, Judge Fleissig granted plaintiffs’ motion for reconsideration, reversing her May 26 order. 2015 WL 4232917.
On January 29, 2016, the parties were told to select neutral parties to act as mediators, and to schedule mediation to see if they could come to a settlement agreement. On May 10, 2016, the neutral parties reported to the court that the parties had mediated in good faith, but were unable to reach settlement.
As of July 11, 2016, the case remains ongoing. Judge Fleissig has not yet decided whether to grant plaintiffs’ class certification. Ryan Berry - 07/11/2016