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Case Name Eldridge v. City of St. John CJ-MO-0017
Docket / Court 15SL-CC00456 ( State Court )
State/Territory Missouri
Case Type(s) Criminal Justice (Other)
Special Collection Fines/Fees/Bail Reform (Criminalization of poverty)
Case Summary
On February 9, 2015, the plaintiffs filed this class action in the 21st Circuit Court of Missouri on behalf of all citizens of the City of St. John who were charged a warrant fee and/or failure to appear fee by the city between February 9, 2010 and September 10, 2018. The suit was brought against ... read more >
On February 9, 2015, the plaintiffs filed this class action in the 21st Circuit Court of Missouri on behalf of all citizens of the City of St. John who were charged a warrant fee and/or failure to appear fee by the city between February 9, 2010 and September 10, 2018. The suit was brought against the city under a Missouri law forbidding any city in the state from charging a surcharge on various court documents. Represented by Arch City Defenders, Saint Louis University Legal Clinic, and private counsel, the plaintiffs sought damages and an injunction that would prevent this fees from being charged on behalf of the two subclasses, which encompassed 3,365 people during the class period. The case was assigned to Judge Colleen Dolan. This suit was one of a dozen brought in the wake of the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, alleging that various cities around Missouri were attaching arbitrary fees to court procedures and documents that disproportionately affected poor citizens and citizens of color.

The City filed a motion to dismiss on May 22, 2015, which was denied at a hearing later that year in October 2015. The City's motion to reconsider was subsequently denied as well.

In June 2016, the case was reassigned to Judge Joseph S. Dueker. On March 6, 2017, the plaintiffs filed a request for class certification. Two months later, the defendants filed for summary judgment. The court scheduled arguments for the summary judgment motion on July 27, 2017, but the plaintiffs successfully asked the court to hear the motion for class certification first. But the defendants successfully continued the hearing on the motion for class cert for another six months.

Instead, the parties agreed in late August 2018 on a class action settlement. While the City of St. John denied all factual allegations, the court granted preliminary approval on September 9, 2018. As part of the settlement, the City of St. John agreed to forgive any outstanding Warrant Fees and Failure to Appear Fees and to not charge Warrant Fees and Failure to Appear Fees in the future, unless the underlying law changed. Both parties agreed that the estimated total value of this injunctive relief was approximately $272,375, from the time this suit was filed. Along with these changes in practice, the City also agreed to create a common fund of $217,900 to pay Class Member claims, an incentive award of $2500 to the Class Representative, and attorney fees of $95,000 to Class Counsel. By November, the court finally approved the settlement and the case is now closed.

Mary Book - 04/17/2019


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Law-enforcement
General
Courts
Fines/Fees/Bail/Bond
Poverty/homelessness
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action State law
Defendant(s) City of St. John
Plaintiff Description All Missouri citizens who paid a Warrant Fee and/or Failure to Appear fee by the City of St. John, from February 9, 2010 to September 10, 2018.
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Damages
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Filing Year 2015
Case Closing Year 2018
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing CJ-MO-0018 : Thomas v. City of St. Ann (E.D. Mo.)
CJ-MO-0023 : Dixon v. City of St. Louis (E.D. Mo.)
PN-MO-0002 : United States v. City of Ferguson (E.D. Mo.)
Docket(s)
15SL-CC00456 (State Trial Court)
CJ-MO-0017-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/26/2018
Source: State Court Website
General Documents
First Amended Class Action Petition
CJ-MO-0017-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/25/2015
Source: Plaintiffs' counsel
Order Granting Preliminary Approval of Class Action Settlement
CJ-MO-0017-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/10/2018
Source: State Court Website
Order and Judgment of Final Approval of Class Action Settlement
CJ-MO-0017-0003.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 11/19/2018
Source: State Court Website
show all people docs
Judges Dolan, Colleen Court not on record show/hide docs
CJ-MO-0017-9000
Dueker, Joseph S. Court not on record show/hide docs
CJ-MO-0017-0002 | CJ-MO-0017-0003 | CJ-MO-0017-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Ammann, John J. (Missouri) show/hide docs
CJ-MO-0017-0001 | CJ-MO-0017-9000
Campbell, John E. (Missouri) show/hide docs
CJ-MO-0017-0001 | CJ-MO-0017-9000
Hanlon, Stephen F (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-MO-0017-0001
Harvey, Thomas B. (Missouri) show/hide docs
CJ-MO-0017-0001
McAnnar, John D. (Missouri) show/hide docs
CJ-MO-0017-0001
Roediger, Brendan D. (Missouri) show/hide docs
CJ-MO-0017-0001
Vieth, Erich (Missouri) show/hide docs
CJ-MO-0017-0001 | CJ-MO-0017-9000
Voss, Michael-John (Missouri) show/hide docs
CJ-MO-0017-0001 | CJ-MO-0017-9000

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