Case: Eldridge v. City of St. John

15-00456 | Missouri state trial court

Filed Date: Feb. 9, 2015

Closed Date: 2018

Clearinghouse coding complete

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 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…

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.

Summary Authors

Mary Book (4/17/2019)

Related Cases

United States v. City of Ferguson, Eastern District of Missouri (2016)

Thomas v. City of St. Ann, Eastern District of Missouri (2016)

Dixon v. City of St. Louis, Eastern District of Missouri (2019)

People


Judge(s)

Dolan, Colleen (Missouri)

Dueker, Joseph S. (Missouri)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Ammann, John J. (Missouri)

Campbell, John E. (Missouri)

Hanlon, Stephen F (District of Columbia)

Harvey, Thomas B. (Missouri)

McAnnar, John D. (Missouri)

Roediger, Brendan D. (Missouri)

Vieth, Erich (Missouri)

Voss, Michael-John (Missouri)

Judge(s)

Dolan, Colleen (Missouri)

Dueker, Joseph S. (Missouri)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Ammann, John J. (Missouri)

Campbell, John E. (Missouri)

Hanlon, Stephen F (District of Columbia)

Harvey, Thomas B. (Missouri)

McAnnar, John D. (Missouri)

Roediger, Brendan D. (Missouri)

Vieth, Erich (Missouri)

Voss, Michael-John (Missouri)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

15-00456

Docket [State Court]

Nov. 26, 2018

Nov. 26, 2018

Docket

15-00456

First Amended Class Action Petition

March 25, 2015

March 25, 2015

Complaint

15-00456

Order Granting Preliminary Approval of Class Action Settlement

Missouri state appellate court

Sept. 10, 2018

Sept. 10, 2018

Order/Opinion

15-00456

Order and Judgment of Final Approval of Class Action Settlement

Nov. 19, 2018

Nov. 19, 2018

Order/Opinion

Resources

Docket

Last updated June 27, 2022, 3:02 a.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: Missouri

Case Type(s):

Criminal Justice (Other)

Special Collection(s):

Fines/Fees/Bail Reform (Criminalization of Poverty)

Key Dates

Filing Date: Feb. 9, 2015

Closing Date: 2018

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

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.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Granted

Defendants

City of St. John (St. Louis), City

Defendant Type(s):

Jurisdiction-wide

Law-enforcement

Case Details

Causes of Action:

State law

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Monetary Relief

Outcome

Prevailing Party: None Yet / None

Nature of Relief:

Attorneys fees

Damages

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree

Amount Defendant Pays: 217,900

Issues

General:

Courts

Fines/Fees/Bail/Bond

Poverty/homelessness