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Federal Court Ruling Affirms Validity of ArchCity Defenders’ Claims in Case Against Maplewood for “Pay-to-Play” Municipal Court and Jail

May 4, 2018

In a major decision impacting multiple cases in the region, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals threw out Maplewood’s “sovereign immunity” defense in Webb, et al. v Maplewood, ruling that Maplewood can be held liable for their actions.

“While this brings us one step closer to securing justice for our clients, we know that the people we represent have been waiting years for municipalities like Maplewood to answer for the harm they have caused,” said Blake Strode, Executive Director of ArchCity Defenders. “Too many municipalities continue to spend time, energy, and resources trying to evade responsibility for their unlawful practices. It’s time to stop looking for ways out and start making whole the people they have victimized.”

Maplewood had claimed “sovereign immunity,” arguing that the city could not be sued for the actions that harmed Ms. Webb and thousands of people like her, who are part of the pending class action lawsuit. Now Ms. Webb’s claims–along with those of the other named plaintiffs, Darron Yates, Robert Eutz, Anthony Lemicy, Krystal Banks, and Frank Williams–can move forward. This ruling is also significant for the plaintiffs awaiting justice in ArchCity Defenders’ debtors’ prison claims against cities like Ferguson, Florissant, Arnold, and St. Ann.

In 2016, ArchCity Defenders filed Webb with co-counsel at Tycko & Zavareei in Washington, D.C. Gupta Wessler, LLP joined the case when Maplewood filed an appeal in 2017. Last month, the Eighth Circuit heard oral arguments from both sides in the case.

ArchCity Defenders has filed over 37 civil rights lawsuits since 2014. As a result of this litigation, municipalities throughout the region have curbed unlawful and predatory practices, leading to decreases in court revenues, and securing over $7.4M in monetary payments to thousands of people across the region.

A link to the ruling can be found here.


Media Contact:
Z. Gorley, Communications Director at ArchCity Defenders