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Case Name Watlington v. City of McCrory FH-AR-0001
Docket / Court 2:17-cv-00002-DPM ( E.D. Ark. )
State/Territory Arkansas
Case Type(s) Fair Housing/Lending/Insurance
Special Collection Fines/Fees/Bail Reform (Criminalization of poverty)
Attorney Organization Equal Justice Under Law
Case Summary
On January 5, 2017, two residents of the City of McCrory that were living in a trailer worth approximately $1500, filed a putative class action complaint in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas. Plaintiffs, represented by Equal Justice Under Law and private counsel, ... read more >
On January 5, 2017, two residents of the City of McCrory that were living in a trailer worth approximately $1500, filed a putative class action complaint in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas. Plaintiffs, represented by Equal Justice Under Law and private counsel, sued the City of McCrory and its Police Chief under 42 U.S.C §1983. The plaintiffs alleged that the City’s Trailer-Banishment Ordinance—which forbid anyone from residing in a home or trailer worth less than $7500—violated both the Eight and Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The plaintiffs sought both monetary and injunctive relief.

That same day, the plaintiffs also moved for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to stop the City from enforcing the ordinance.

The next day, the Court (Judge D. P. Marshall Jr.) scheduled a hearing on the temporary restraining order, but in an answer filed that same week, the City promised not to enforce the ordinance against anyone and to immediately submit a replacement ordinance to the City Council. In response, the Court found the claim for preliminary injunctive relief moot, and it stayed the case to allow the City to alter the ordinance at issue.

On January 10th, the City Council passed a new ordinance, removing the challenged provision and establishing a new one that contained no reference to the value of one’s home or trailer. The defendants then moved to dismiss the case, but on May 23, the Court found that the plaintiffs still had a viable claim for compensatory damages based on any harm suffered during the months the ordinance was in effect. The defendants again moved to dismiss the claim but the Court found the plaintiffs had sufficiently stated a claim based on lost wages and transportation expenses totaling $800.

The plaintiffs filed an amended complaint on June 16, 2017, seeking monetary relief and permanent injunctive relief to stop the City from passing a similar ordinance in the future. The defendants filed a counterclaim alleging that the plaintiffs' trailer was a public nuisance.

The parties reached a private settlement, and the Court granted a voluntary motion to dismiss both parties claims on November 30, 2017. According to Stephanie Storey, spokeswoman for Equal Justice, the settlement totaled just over $20,000. We have no further information on the litigation, and the case is now closed.

Chris Pollack - 01/27/2019


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Equal Protection
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
General
Fines/Fees/Bail/Bond
Housing
Poverty/homelessness
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Race
Race, unspecified
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) City of McCrory
Plaintiff Description Two residents of the City of McCrory living in mobile home worth approximately $1500, suing on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Equal Justice Under Law
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
City repealed ordinance
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Voluntary Dismissal
Filing Year 2017
Case Closing Year 2017
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  The Origins of Fair Lending Litigation
Date: Dec. 4, 2008
By: Andrew Nash (Washington University in St. Louis Law Student)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
2:17-cv-00002 (E.D. Ark.)
FH-AR-0001-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/30/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
FH-AR-0001-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 01/05/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 22] (E.D. Ark.)
FH-AR-0001-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/23/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amended Complaint [ECF# 25]
FH-AR-0001-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/16/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 31] (E.D. Ark.)
FH-AR-0001-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/03/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Marshall, Denzil Price Jr. (E.D. Ark.) show/hide docs
FH-AR-0001-0003 | FH-AR-0001-0004 | FH-AR-0001-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Coulter, John D (Arkansas) show/hide docs
FH-AR-0001-0001 | FH-AR-0001-0002 | FH-AR-0001-9000
Ramaswamy, Rebecca R. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
FH-AR-0001-0001
Sevcenko, Catherine B. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
FH-AR-0001-0001
Telfeyan, Phil (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
FH-AR-0001-0001 | FH-AR-0001-0002 | FH-AR-0001-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Adams, Jenna (Arkansas) show/hide docs
FH-AR-0001-9000
Mosley, Michael Allen (Arkansas) show/hide docs
FH-AR-0001-9000

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