On March 6, 2023, a federal judge approved a $3.25 million settlement in this class-action lawsuit brought against the City of Maplewood, Missouri. The suit alleged that the City regularly violated people’s constitutional rights by using jail or the threat of jail to extract fines and fees without legal process and without inquiry into ability to pay.
On November 1, 2016, a class of plaintiffs filed a civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the City of Maplewood in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. Plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief as well as reasonable attorneys’ fees and other costs incurred by plaintiffs in bringing the lawsuit.
In 2017, the City moved to dismiss the complaint on 11th Amendment sovereign immunity grounds, but the District Court found plaintiffs brought a sufficient claim for municipal liability. In 2018, the City appealed to the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of appeals which affirmed the lower court’s ruling.
In April 2023, the District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri granted final approval for the class action settlement and for an award of attorneys’ fees and related costs and services.
Terms of the Settlement Agreement:
The City, without admitting fault, agreed to pay $3.25 million to settle this case. $1.08 million of that settlement fund went toward attorneys’ fees. $132,000 of the fund was awarded to cover litigation costs incurred by plaintiffs. Each of the three class representatives was awarded $7,500 and the remaining was split between the more than 7,000 individuals who were jailed by the City and the 20,000 individuals who paid fines and fees between 2011 and 2021 as a result of the City’s practice.
According to ArchCity Defenders who represented the plaintiffs, court data from Maplewood’s municipal courts show a 64% decrease in municipal court revenue since the lawsuit was filed, and the number of tickets issued in the City dropped by 70% in 2022. ArchCity Defenders is pursuing similar claims against the nearby cities of St. Ann, Florissant and Ferguson.
You can read Plaintiff’s initial 2016 complaint here.
You can read the settlement agreement in this case here.
You can read the district court’s order accepting the settlement and dismissing the appeal here.
Roberts Webb et al. v. City of Maplewood
Case No. 4:16-cv-01703 (E.D. Mo. 2023)