FLORISSANT, MO – Joining several other Missouri courts dealing with unconstitutional cash bail practices, on February 1, 2023, United States Magistrate Judge Nannette A. Baker granted in part and denied in part the plaintiffs’ Motion for Class Certification. In the Memorandum and Order, Judge Baker certified three classes of individuals who plaintiffs allege have been denied their constitutional rights as a result of Florissant, Missouri’s policy of detaining individuals for failing to pay municipal bonds and fines without inquiring into their ability to pay, and its failure to bring such individuals before a judge for an arraignment.
The Court held that plaintiffs could challenge on a class-wide basis the City of Florissant’s arrest and detention practices. The three certified classes seek monetary damages in the form of payments for time spent allegedly unconstitutionally jailed and refunds for allegedly unlawful fines, as well as changes to the City’s policies and practices. The Court rejected the City’s argument that its policies and practices were presumptively reasonable, explaining that “[a]s other judges of this Court recognized,” the presumption of reasonableness does not apply when plaintiffs allege “delay for delay’s sake, and [that] there was no plan to ever bring the arrestees before a judge.”
Partner Andrea R. Gold of Tycko & Zavareei LLP, along with John Waldron, Nathaniel Carroll, and Blake Strode of ArchCity Defenders, Inc., and Ryan Keane of Keane Law LLC, were appointed as Class Counsel. Ms. Gold remarked about the case, “The Court’s well-reasoned and detailed certification order systematically rejects almost all the City of Florissant’s challenges to class certification. We look forward to trying the Classes’ claims in this important case, where we allege that thousands of Class members were unconstitutionally jailed for tens of thousands of days, as well as forced to pay millions in unlawful fines and fees.”
The case is Thomas Baker, et al., v. City of Florissant, Case No. 4:16-CV-1693 NAB.
The case follows the grant of class certification and appointment of Tycko & Zavareei LLP, ArchCity Defenders, Inc., and Keane Law LLC as Class Counsel in a prior debtors’ prison case, Webb v. City of Maplewood, No. 4:16-CV-1703-CDP, 340 F.R.D. 124 (E.D. Mo. 2021). A settlement in that case is currently pending final approval.