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Case Name Baker v. Florissant CJ-MO-0024
Docket / Court 4:16-cv-01693 ( E.D. Mo. )
State/Territory Missouri
Case Type(s) Criminal Justice (Other)
Special Collection Fines/Fees/Bail Reform (Criminalization of poverty)
Attorney Organization Advancement Project
ArchCity Defenders
Case Summary
On October 31st, 2016, a group of Plaintiffs who had been jailed for their inability to pay fines owed to the City of Florissant, Missouri for traffic tickets or other minor municipal offenses, sued the City for this violation of due process in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of ... read more >
On October 31st, 2016, a group of Plaintiffs who had been jailed for their inability to pay fines owed to the City of Florissant, Missouri for traffic tickets or other minor municipal offenses, sued the City for this violation of due process in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. The Plaintiffs are represented by the Advancement Project, ArchCity Defenders, Inc., and private counsel. The Plaintiffs sued the City of Florissant, MO under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging violations of the Fourth, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments. The Plaintiffs alleged that the City held individuals in jail in “grotesque, dangerous, inhumane conditions" until all fines and fees set by the City are paid – usually by friends or relatives. Further, they alleged that the amount paid was arbitrarily and significantly reduced when the City recognizes that they are unable to profit from the plaintiffs' detention. Also, they alleged that the City issued and enforced arrest warrants for the plaintiffs' failure to appear in court or at the jail to pay their fines. They alleged that individuals were held in jail for days in inhumane conditions before they appeared before the judge. The Plaintiffs sought a declaratory judgment stating that the rights of Plaintiffs were violated by the City, injunctive relief permanently enjoining the City from enforcing these unconstitutional policies and practices, and compensatory relief for damages suffered as a result of the City’s unconstitutional and unlawful conduct, as well as payment of reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs. The case was assigned to Magistrate Judge Nannette A. Baker. Both parties consented to magistrate judge jurisdiction in November 2016.

This case was first referred to alternative dispute resolution (ADR) on June 1, 2017. The court continued to attempt to force the two parties to resolve this dispute through mediation throughout the rest of 2017 and most of 2018. On November 16, 2018, the parties agreed on a neutral mediator, James W. Reeves. Mediation seemed poised to start in early December 2018, but the order referring the case to ADR was vacated on December 6, 2018. During that same time, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim or alternatively to strike or for a more definite statement on January 13, 2017. The court denied this motion on December 12, 2017, with the court holding that the plaintiffs had filed a valid claim with the court.

Throughout 2019, the case proceeded slowly, the defendants filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings for failure to join an indispensable party on March 16, 2019, which the court denied on August 12, 2019. The parties also filed various requests to extend the deadlines to allow for the gathering of additional expert reports and additional data, repeatedly pushing back the end of discovery.

The Plaintiffs filed a motion for leave to file a second amended complaint on January 15, 2020, nearly three years after the initial deadline for amendment of pleadings. The Plaintiffs sought to “shore up” class definitions, clarify factual issues learned in discovery, and add a claim under a Missouri statute § 544.170 that requires those arrested without a warrant to be released within 24 hours. The Plaintiffs alleged that were trying to make sure class categories match allegations in the complaint after receiving advice from an expert who helped them to sort through the information. They further alleged that the additional claim is similar enough to their initial claims that the defendants should have been given adequate notice and no additional discovery will be needed. On May 6, 2020, the court granted in part and denied in part the plaintiff’s motion to file a second amended complaint. The court allowed plaintiffs to amend the complaint to correct demographic information on the plaintiffs and remove paragraphs no longer supported by the information revealed in discovery. However, the court denied the plaintiff's request to add an additional plaintiff as class representative, add claims under Missouri statute § 544.170, and reconfigure and add class categories, ruling that plaintiffs had failed to show “good cause” for why these amendments hadn’t taken place within the original window to amend. The Plaintiffs filed motion for reconsideration of the court's ruling on May 7, 2020. On May 21, plaintiffs filed a motion for class certification.

This case is currently ongoing with both these motions by plaintiffs pending.

Tessa McEvoy - 10/30/2020


compress summary

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Assistance of counsel (6th Amendment)
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process
Equal Protection
Excessive bail/fines
Unreasonable search and seizure
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
General
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Fines/Fees/Bail/Bond
Placement in detention facilities
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) City of Florissant, Missouri
Plaintiff Description A group of impoverished Missourians who were jailed by the City of Florissant because they were unable to make a monetary payment to the City
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Advancement Project
ArchCity Defenders
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Pending
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filed 10/31/2016
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)
Court Docket(s)
E.D. Mo.
08/24/2020
4:16-cv-01693
CJ-MO-0024-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
E.D. Mo.
10/31/2016
Class Action Complaint [ECF# 1]
CJ-MO-0024-0002.pdf | Detail
E.D. Mo.
12/13/2016
First Amended Class Action Complaint [ECF# 16]
CJ-MO-0024-0005.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Mo.
12/11/2017
Memorandum and Order [ECF# 54] (2017 WL 6316736)
CJ-MO-0024-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Mo.
05/06/2020
Memorandum and Order [ECF# 159] (2020 WL 2198906)
CJ-MO-0024-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Baker, Nannette E Court not on record show/hide docs
CJ-MO-0024-0003 | CJ-MO-0024-0004 | CJ-MO-0024-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Carroll, Nathaniel R. (Missouri) show/hide docs
CJ-MO-0024-0002 | CJ-MO-0024-0005 | CJ-MO-0024-9000
Gold, Andrea R. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-MO-0024-9000
Hall, Edward James (Missouri) show/hide docs
CJ-MO-0024-0002 | CJ-MO-0024-0005 | CJ-MO-0024-9000
Harvey, Thomas B. (Missouri) show/hide docs
CJ-MO-0024-0002 | CJ-MO-0024-0005 | CJ-MO-0024-9000
Kaliel, Jeffrey D (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-MO-0024-0002 | CJ-MO-0024-0005 | CJ-MO-0024-9000
Keane, Ryan (Missouri) show/hide docs
CJ-MO-0024-9000
Kelleher, Lauren Joyce (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-MO-0024-9000
Kutnik-Bauder, Jacqueline Marie (Missouri) show/hide docs
CJ-MO-0024-9000
Lanahan, Matthew William (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-MO-0024-9000
Quinones, Martin Daniel (California) show/hide docs
CJ-MO-0024-0002 | CJ-MO-0024-0005 | CJ-MO-0024-9000
Strode, Blake Alexander (Missouri) show/hide docs
CJ-MO-0024-0002 | CJ-MO-0024-0005 | CJ-MO-0024-9000
Taylor, Kyra A (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-MO-0024-9000
Tycko, Jonathan K (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
CJ-MO-0024-9000
Voss, Michael-John (Missouri) show/hide docs
CJ-MO-0024-0002 | CJ-MO-0024-0005 | CJ-MO-0024-9000
Waldron, John McCann (Missouri) show/hide docs
CJ-MO-0024-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Bates, Rachel A (Missouri) show/hide docs
CJ-MO-0024-9000
Behan, Lauren A (Missouri) show/hide docs
CJ-MO-0024-9000
Hellmich, William A. (Missouri) show/hide docs
CJ-MO-0024-9000
Hill, Blake Daniel (Missouri) show/hide docs
CJ-MO-0024-9000
Reeves, John Michael (Missouri) show/hide docs
CJ-MO-0024-9000
Retter, Jason S (Missouri) show/hide docs
CJ-MO-0024-9000

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