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Case Name Furlow v. Belmar PN-MO-0007
Docket / Court 4:16-cv-00254 ( E.D. Mo. )
State/Territory Missouri
Case Type(s) Policing
Attorney Organization ArchCity Defenders
Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR)
Case Summary
On February 2, 2016, a class of St. Louis County residents, primarily impoverished and African-American, filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Missouri. The plaintiffs sued St. Louis County and the St. Louis County Police Department under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, ... read more >
On February 2, 2016, a class of St. Louis County residents, primarily impoverished and African-American, filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Missouri. The plaintiffs sued St. Louis County and the St. Louis County Police Department under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, claiming violations of their Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The plaintiffs, represented by attorneys from the ArchCity Defenders and the Center for Constitutional Rights, asked the court for injunctive relief and monetary damages.

The plaintiffs claimed that St. Louis County Police maintained a practice of issuing arrest warrants excessively and without judicial oversight. Specifically, the plaintiffs claimed that police officers issued arrest warrants, referred to as “Wanteds,” without seeking any judicial determination on probable cause. The “Wanteds” were visible to law enforcement throughout the state and beyond, and remained active indefinitely. The complaint alleged that this was an unaccountable exercise of police power that was particularly devastating to the largely impoverished black residents of St. Louis County.

The case was initially assigned to Judge Carol E. Jackson. The plaintiffs amended their complaint on July 8, 2016, naming two additional plaintiffs. The parties engaged in discovery throughout 2016 and 2017. On July 28, 2017, the case was reassigned to Judge John A. Ross.

On August 25, 2017, the parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment and the plaintiffs moved to certify a class, requesting certification of two classes: Class 1, consisting of "all persons who, since February 24, 2011, have been arrested pursuant to a Wanted issued by Defendants without a judicial determination of probable cause either prior to or promptly after their arrest, including those persons who were arrested without probable cause; and Class 2, consisting of "all persons who, since February 24, 2011, have been the subject of a Wanted issued by Defendant St. Louis County and have been denied procedural remedies to quash the Wanted." Oral argument on the motions for summary judgment and class certification was held on February 28, 2018.

On March 9, 2018, Judge Ross entered an order of recusal, stating that "on the Court’s own motion and after further review of the case, I have determined that I
should disqualify myself to avoid any potential appearance of impropriety." The case was reassigned to Judge Henry Edward Autrey that day.

Judge Autrey ruled in favor of the defendants on the earlier cross-motions for summary judgment on October 15, 2018. He found that the defendants were entitled to qualified immunity for their actions, and, since all claims against the officers were dismissed, the claims against the city were dismissed alongside them. He did not provide an opinion on the class certification, since all complaints were dismissed.

He allowed the plaintiffs to file an amended complaint, which they did on November 5, 2018. The plaintiffs maintained claims against a series of officers and the city on similar facts as the initial claim. They also maintained a request for class certification. However, they brought new claims, including a Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment claim of unlawful seizure, a Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment claim of retaliation, and a Fourteenth Amendment deprivation of liberty without due process claim.

After this new complaint was filed, some of the defendants filed for summary judgment for their individual actions in January. Judge Autrey granted in part and denied in part the motion on March 15, 2019 (2019 WL 1227460). He disposed of the Fifth Amendment claims against all defendants, because he stated that there was no evidence of the plaintiffs invoking the Fifth Amendment in the complaint or in discovery. Judge Autrey dismissed some of the unlawful seizure complaints as it related to defendants that could prove probable cause, but maintained the complaints against others that could not. Finally, he maintained the deprivation of liberty claim against all defendants.

Litigation is ongoing in the case. The parties filed a joint status report with the District Court on May 29, 2020.

Michael Abrams - 10/06/2016
Sarah McDonald - 08/19/2018
Ellen Aldin - 06/02/2020


compress summary

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Self-incrimination
Unreasonable search and seizure
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Law-enforcement
General
Failure to discipline
Failure to supervise
Failure to train
False arrest
Over/Unlawful Detention
Pattern or Practice
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Race
Black
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) St. Louis County
Plaintiff Description A class of St. Louis County residents, primarily impoverished and African-American, who have been affected by arrest warrants issued by police without probable cause or judicial oversight.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ArchCity Defenders
Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR)
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Pending
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Unknown
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filed 02/02/2016
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Furlow v. Belmar
Center for Constitutional Rights
Date: Feb. 28, 2018
(Center for Constitutional Rights)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
4:16−cv−00254−CEJ (E.D. Mo.)
PN-MO-0007-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/01/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint [ECF# 1]
PN-MO-0007-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/24/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Amended Class Action Complaint
PN-MO-0007-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/08/2016
Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
Opinion, Memorandum, and Order [ECF# 129] (2018 WL 4853034) (E.D. Mo.)
PN-MO-0007-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 10/05/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Second Amended Class Action Complaint [ECF# 130]
PN-MO-0007-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/05/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion, Memorandum, and Order [ECF# 143] (2019 WL 1227460) (E.D. Mo.)
PN-MO-0007-0005.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 03/15/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Autrey, Henry Edward (E.D. Mo.) show/hide docs
PN-MO-0007-0003 | PN-MO-0007-0005 | PN-MO-0007-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Atri, Sima (Missouri) show/hide docs
PN-MO-0007-0004 | PN-MO-0007-9000
Azmy, Baher (New York) show/hide docs
PN-MO-0007-0001 | PN-MO-0007-0002 | PN-MO-0007-0004
Carroll, Nathaniel R. (Missouri) show/hide docs
PN-MO-0007-0001 | PN-MO-0007-0002 | PN-MO-0007-0004 | PN-MO-0007-9000
Charney, Darius (New York) show/hide docs
PN-MO-0007-0001 | PN-MO-0007-0002 | PN-MO-0007-0004
Charney, Darius (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PN-MO-0007-9000
Cohen, Jay (New York) show/hide docs
PN-MO-0007-9000
Farah, Omar (New York) show/hide docs
PN-MO-0007-0001 | PN-MO-0007-0002 | PN-MO-0007-0004 | PN-MO-0007-9000
Goldberg, Emily Beth (New York) show/hide docs
PN-MO-0007-9000
Grossman, Elizabeth (New York) show/hide docs
PN-MO-0007-0004 | PN-MO-0007-9000
Guisado, Angelo R. (New York) show/hide docs
PN-MO-0007-9000
Hall, Edward James (Missouri) show/hide docs
PN-MO-0007-0001 | PN-MO-0007-0002 | PN-MO-0007-9000
Hamilton, Charles Jordan (New York) show/hide docs
PN-MO-0007-9000
Hanlon, Maureen (Missouri) show/hide docs
PN-MO-0007-9000
Harvey, Thomas B. (Missouri) show/hide docs
PN-MO-0007-0001 | PN-MO-0007-0002 | PN-MO-0007-9000
Holland, Timothy James (New York) show/hide docs
PN-MO-0007-0004 | PN-MO-0007-9000
Kutnik-Bauder, Jacqueline Marie (Missouri) show/hide docs
PN-MO-0007-9000
Stone, Eric Alan (New York) show/hide docs
PN-MO-0007-0004 | PN-MO-0007-9000
Strode, Blake Alexander (Missouri) show/hide docs
PN-MO-0007-0001 | PN-MO-0007-0002 | PN-MO-0007-0004 | PN-MO-0007-9000
Voss, Michael-John (Missouri) show/hide docs
PN-MO-0007-0004 | PN-MO-0007-9000
Waldron, John McCann (Missouri) show/hide docs
PN-MO-0007-0004
Defendant's Lawyers Hughes, Michael E. (Missouri) show/hide docs
PN-MO-0007-9000
Smith, Frank James Jr (Missouri) show/hide docs
PN-MO-0007-9000
Other Lawyers Flojo, Raymond B. (Missouri) show/hide docs
PN-MO-0007-9000

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