June 2, 2022
(St. Louis, Mo.) – Today is the first day on which individuals who were jailed, arrested by, or paid fines to the City of Edmundson between December 12, 2013, and July 1, 2021, can file a claim, and if eligible, receive monetary damages from a preliminary settlement reached in the federal lawsuit Quinton Thomas v. City of Edmundson. The claim period is open for 120 days. The proposed settlement class includes approximately 10,000 people and has monetary damages estimated at $370,000. The opening of the claims period follows the May 19, 2022 preliminary approval of three settlement classes in the debtors’ prison lawsuit against Edmundson, a 0.26 square-mile city in St. Louis County, Missouri, that borders Lambert International Airport.
The lawsuit, filed December 12, 2018, by ArchCity Defenders and Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP, alleges Edmundson’s pattern and practice of exploiting primarily poor and Black individuals through an unlawful and perverse system of criminalizing, arresting, and jailing people who could not afford to pay court fines and fees which stemmed from over-policing, excessive ticketing, and a revenue-generating municipal court.
Edmundson, a city of approximately 832 people at the time the lawsuit was filed, generated $2.2 million in revenue from its municipal court between 2012 and 2016. The town made national headlines in 2014, when Mayor John Gwaltney sent a memo to the City’s police department stating, “I wish to take this opportunity to remind you that the tickets that you write do add to the revenue on which the P. D. budget is established and will directly affect pay adjustments at budget time.”
“While no amount of money could reverse the harm and deep setbacks our clients and numerous others endured from Edmundson and other cities we have sued, it is encouraging to see another case in which thousands of people will be able to receive compensation,” said Jack Waldron, Managing Attorney in the Civil Litigation Department at ArchCity Defenders.
Mr. Quinton Thomas, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, said, “We are getting tired of getting mistreated, as citizens, as taxpayers. I think it has been a vital opportunity to be a part of this and to bring these wrongdoings to light around Missouri and also, how it’s happening around the country.”
Following this preliminary approval, the settlement administrator will mail postcards to the individual class members. These class members will have a 120-day period, from June 2, 2022, to September 30, 2022, to file a claim in this case. For additional information about the claims, visit EdmundsonClassAction.com. Individuals who paid fines to, were arrested and/or jailed by, or had a warrant issued by Edmundson between December 12, 2013 and July 1, 2021, are encouraged to visit the website to view the terms to file a claim to be eligible for monetary compensation. For more information, and to file a claim, visit: www.EdmundsonClassAction.com
- To read a copy of the judge’s order preliminarily approving the classes, click here.
- To read a copy of the original complaint, click here.
To date, ArchCity Defenders and co-counsel have filed seven separate debtors’ prison cases against area municipalities. Jenkins v. Jennings settled in 2017 and provided more than $4 million in relief to local residents. Within the past three months, Davis v. Normandy and Thomas v. Edmundson have both been approved for classwide preliminary settlement, which means that impacted individuals can file a claim, now, in both cases, and if eligible, receive compensation. Two other cases, Fant v. Ferguson and Baker v. Florissant have class certification pending currently, while Thomas v. St. Ann will have class certification later this year. Collectively, the cases seek compensation for tens of thousands of residents of the St. Louis region whose constitutional rights were violated by area municipalities.
From April 2022 through August 2022, over 22,000 people are eligible to apply for and claim monetary damages from the $1.3M settlement reached with the City of Normandy, Missouri. For more information, and to file a claim, visit: www.NormandyClassAction.com
Z Gorley, Communications Director, ArchCity Defenders