Thomas v. Byrd et al
ORDER: The Court appreciates the parties' 52 Joint status report. The Court certifies the class contained within this Order pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(2)(1). The Court appoints Dontel Thomas and Dalton Jackson as class re presentatives. The Court preliminarily approves the parties' 52 Proposed settlement agreement. The Court schedules a fairness hearing for 3/6/2017 at 9:00 a.m. in Helena Courtroom 314. The Court directs the Clerk to reassign the case from Magi strate Judge Ray to Magistrate Judge Volpe. And the Court refers all issues that may arise during the claims period, and the administration of the proposed settlement between now and the fairness hearing, to Magistrate Judge Volpe. Signed by Judge D. P. Marshall Jr. on 11/10/2016. (jak)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
DONTEL THOMAS and
DALTON JACKSON, on
behalf of Themselves and all Others
NEAL BYRD, in his Official Capacity;
JOHN THOMAS, individually and in his
official capacity as an employee of City of
Helena-West-Helena; and SENTENCING
OPTIONS SPECIALISTS, INC.
1. The Court appreciates the parties' joint status report, N2 52. These
papers reflect hard work and much collaboration.
2. For purposes of considering the proposed settlement, the Court
All those arrested in Phillips County, Arkansas between 9 October 2012
and 10 November 2016 who did not receive a Rule 8 appearance within
seventy-two hours of arrest; and indigent people jailed by Phillips
County or the City of Helena-West Helena during the same period for
money owed to the City, County, or Sentencing Operations Specialists
for traffic tickets, child support, monitor device fees, or other minor
offenses where no inquiry was conducted into the person's ability to
pay and without informing the person of their right to counsel or
The class satisfies all of Rule 23(a)'s requirements-numerosity,
commonality, typicality, and adequacy of representation. This case is almost
identical to Covington v. Byrd, No. 2:12-cv-123-DPM, in which this Court
certified a class. See Order NQ 119 in that case. The dates of the alleged
conduct have changed, but the reasons for certification are the same. Thomas
and Jackson allege they were denied prompt first appearances; and Jackson
alleges he was held for a minor debt without knowing about his right to
counsel. They say this kind of thing happened to one hundred or more
others. All these people allegedly suffered the same injury as a result of the
two practices of the defendants. Bennett v. Nucor Corp., 656 F.3d 802, 814 (8th
So the named plaintiffs' grievances are typical of the class
members. Paxton v. Union National Bank, 688 F.2d 552, 562-63 (8th Cir. 1982).
And Thomas and Jackson will adequately represent the common class
interests through their qualified and experienced lawyer. Ibid.
Questions of law and fact common to class members predominate over
questions affecting only individuals. There are lots of individual details, of
course. But the big questions -the City/ County practices - are common core
for everyone. A class is the best way to fairly and efficiently adjudicate the
R. CIV. P. 23(b)(3).
The Court appoints Dontel Thomas and Dalton Jackson as class
representatives. They've prosecuted this case diligently and can stand in for
all the affected individuals. And the Court appoints Luther Sutter of Sutter
& Gillham, PLLC as class counsel. He handled the Covington case and has
shown himself zealous in seeking justice for those affected by these
City/ County practices.
R. CIV. P. 23(g).
3. The Court preliminarily approves the parties' proposed settlement
agreement, Ng 52-1, and all related draft notices and papers.
4. The Court schedules a fairness hearing for 6 March 2017 at 9:00 am
in Helena Courtroom 314.
This case was randomly assigned to Chief Judge Miller and
Magistrate Judge Ray when filed. On plaintiffs' notice about Covington, the
case was reassigned to me.
Magistrate Judge Joe J. Volpe was deeply
involved in Covington too. To promote judicial economy, and get the benefit
of Magistrate Judge Volpe's experience on these issues, the Court therefore
directs the Clerk to reassign the case from Magistrate Judge Ray to Magistrate
Judge Volpe. And the Court refers all issues that may arise during the claims
period, and the administration of the proposed settlement between now and
the fairness hearing, to Magistrate Judge Volpe.
D .P. Marshall Jr.
United States District Judge
Io N'fV'e~ J}..o 1(Q
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