University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name Hernandez v. Houston CJ-TX-0019
Docket / Court 4:16-cv-03577 ( S.D. Tex. )
State/Territory Texas
Case Type(s) Criminal Justice (Other)
Special Collection Fines/Fees/Bail Reform (Criminalization of poverty)
Attorney Organization Civil Rights Corps
Case Summary
This is a case about Houston police arresting individuals without warrants and detaining them without probable cause. On December 5, 2016, two plaintiffs filed this lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas. The plaintiffs on behalf of themselves and all others ... read more >
This is a case about Houston police arresting individuals without warrants and detaining them without probable cause. On December 5, 2016, two plaintiffs filed this lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas. The plaintiffs on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated sued the City of Houston under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violations of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. Represented by private counsel and the Civil Rights Corps, the plaintiffs sought compensatory damages and attorneys’ fees. They claimed that the City of Houston regularly arrested individuals without warrants and detained them without probable cause hearings for longer than permitted by the United States Constitution.

The case was assigned to Judge Kennth M. Hoyt on December 7, 2016. The City filed a motion to dismiss the initial complaint. One of the named plaintiffs withdrew from the case and on March 1, 2017, the plaintiffs amended the complaint to add three more named plaintiffs. As a result, on March 7, the court denied the City's motion to dismiss on grounds of mootness because the filing of an amended complaint renders a prior complaint void and moots any motion to dismiss.

The City filed an amended motion to dismiss, which was denied on June 6, 2017. The court found that the defendants had essentially admitted that the facts the plaintiffs pleaded were true.

The case proceeded to discovery, and the parties engaged in lengthy discovery disputes. On August 30, 2018, the District Court issued an order stating that the City of Houston had intentionally destroyed evidence pertinent to the lawsuit. As a result, the Court held that inferences were appropriate: (1) throughout the class period, the City of Houston had a policy of not releasing warrantless arrestees who had not received neutral determinations of probable cause within the constitutionally required period of time; (2) throughout the class period, the City’s policymakers were aware of this policy; and (3) the City acted with deliberate indifference with respect to its unconstitutional policy of not releasing warrantless arrestees who hadn’t received probable cause hearings in the appropriate amount of time.

On December 11, 2018, the plaintiffs moved to certify their class. The first amended complaint detailed a single class of plaintiffs seeking compensatory relief, which applied to all those arrested without warrant and held for more than 48 hours without a prompt judicial determination of probable cause.

The plaintiffs filed a second amended complaint on December 13, 2018, which added a fifth named plaintiff. Additionally, this second amended complaint defined two classes seeking compensatory relief. The first subclass included all those arrested and held held by the City of Houston without a warrant or a judicial determination of probably cause for 48 hours or more, and the second subclass included those who were arrested and held between 24 and 48 hours.

In spring 2019, the District Court issued an order overruling a motion from the City that asked the Court to exclude certain documents that they claimed to be privileged from evidence. The plaintiffs filed a motion to compel the city to produce these documents, which was stayed by Judge Hoyt pending the City’s appeal. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals then vacated the District Court’s order with respect to one document, and denied the City’s claim of privilege in all other respects. Upon remand, the District Court granted the plaintiffs’ motion to compel.

In late June 2019, both parties filed motions for summary judgment. On July 3, 2019, Judge Hoyt granted the plaintiffs’ earlier motion for class certification. One week later, the City filed a motion to stay the case pending interlocutory appeal regarding the class certification issue, which was denied by the district court in early August. And, shortly after on August 8, 2020 the Fifth Circuit denied the defendants leave to appeal the grant of class certification.

At some during the summer of 2019, the parties began going through mediation and started settlement negotiations, and on August 13, 2019, a joint order to stay the case pending the finalization of settlement was granted.

In July 2020, Houston City Council voted to pass a settlement awarding the plaintiffs $1.17 million in exchange for indemnity. The court granted a joint motion for preliminary approval of the settlement on October 22, 2020. The case is ongoing pending the court's approval of the settlement agreement.

Jane Fisher - 11/02/2020


compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Unreasonable search and seizure
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
General
Conditions of confinement
Fines/Fees/Bail/Bond
Over/Unlawful Detention
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) City of Houston
Plaintiff Description Class A: All people arrested without a warrant after December 5, 2014, and detained by the City of Houston for more than 48 hours. Class B: All people arrested without a warrant after December 5, 2014, and detained by the City of Houston for more than 24 hours and less than 48 hours.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Civil Rights Corps
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status outcome Granted
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Damages
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Filed 12/05/2016
Case Ongoing Yes
Case Listing CJ-TX-0020 : Lomas v. Harris County (S.D. Tex.)
Additional Resources
click to show/hide detail
  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  Houston, TX: Probable Cause
Civil Rights Corps
Date: Dec. 30, 2018
By: Civil Rights Corps
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
S.D. Tex.
10/22/2020
4:16-cv-03577
CJ-TX-0019-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
S.D. Tex.
12/05/2016
Class Action Complaint [ECF# 1]
CJ-TX-0019-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Tex.
03/01/2017
Amended Class Action Complaint [ECF# 19]
CJ-TX-0019-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Tex.
06/06/2017
Memorandum and Order [ECF# 27] (2017 WL 2463636)
CJ-TX-0019-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Tex.
08/30/2018
Order and Findings on Sanctions and Motions [ECF# 80] (2020 WL 4140684)
CJ-TX-0019-0007.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Tex.
12/10/2018
[Proposed] Second Amended Class Action Complaint [ECF# 89]
CJ-TX-0019-0005.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. Tex.
07/03/2019
Memorandum Opinion and Order [ECF# 154] (2019 WL 2869157)
CJ-TX-0019-0006.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Hanovice Palermo, Dena Court not on record [Magistrate] show/hide docs
CJ-TX-0019-9000
Hoyt, Kenneth M. (S.D. Tex.) show/hide docs
CJ-TX-0019-0004 | CJ-TX-0019-0006 | CJ-TX-0019-0007 | CJ-TX-0019-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bernhardt, Rebecca (Texas) show/hide docs
CJ-TX-0019-0001 | CJ-TX-0019-0002 | CJ-TX-0019-9000
Cohen, Leonora (California) show/hide docs
CJ-TX-0019-9000
Downer, Ryan Chasce (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-TX-0019-9000
Elbogen, Amanda Beth (New York) show/hide docs
CJ-TX-0019-0001 | CJ-TX-0019-0002 | CJ-TX-0019-0005 | CJ-TX-0019-9000
Genser, Andrew M (New York) show/hide docs
CJ-TX-0019-0001 | CJ-TX-0019-0002 | CJ-TX-0019-9000
Gerstein, Charles L. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-TX-0019-0001 | CJ-TX-0019-0002 | CJ-TX-0019-0005 | CJ-TX-0019-9000
Karakatsanis, Alec (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-TX-0019-0001 | CJ-TX-0019-0002 | CJ-TX-0019-0005
King, Patrick (Texas) show/hide docs
CJ-TX-0019-0001 | CJ-TX-0019-0002 | CJ-TX-0019-0005 | CJ-TX-0019-9000
Payne, Christine P (Illinois) show/hide docs
CJ-TX-0019-9000
Pringle, Susanne Ashley (Texas) show/hide docs
CJ-TX-0019-0001 | CJ-TX-0019-0002 | CJ-TX-0019-9000
Rotman, Anna (Texas) show/hide docs
CJ-TX-0019-9000
Shimada, Stephanie M (New York) show/hide docs
CJ-TX-0019-9000
Zuckerman, Alex S (New York) show/hide docs
CJ-TX-0019-0005 | CJ-TX-0019-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Callan, Jennifer F (Texas) show/hide docs
CJ-TX-0019-9000
Davis, Nancy McEvily (Texas) show/hide docs
CJ-TX-0019-9000
Dunbar, Jeremy W (Texas) show/hide docs
CJ-TX-0019-9000
Gorman, Sean (Texas) show/hide docs
CJ-TX-0019-9000
Lemond, Connica (Texas) show/hide docs
CJ-TX-0019-9000
Vaden, Jeff B (Texas) show/hide docs
CJ-TX-0019-9000

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -