A hearing is planned next month regarding a $300,000 class action settlement between members of a local homeless union and the city of Marysville and Yuba County for their handling of encampment cleanups in 2016 and 2017.
Thirteen homeless individuals filed a complaint in 2018 against the city and county alleging their civil rights were violated in 2016 when hundreds of homeless people were removed from several encampments located throughout the city and county and their property was seized or destroyed with little or no effective notice.
In February, the parties struck a tentative settlement worth $300,000. According to the terms of the settlement, $75,000 would be allocated for attorney’s fees and costs, $39,000 would be divided between the 13 plaintiffs, and the remaining balance would be available to claim by other homeless individuals who lost property related to the encampment cleanups between Jan. 1, 2016 and March 1, 2017.
“The judge has to approve the settlement,” said Anthony Prince, an attorney and general counsel for the California Homeless Union, who is representing the local chapter in the case. “It’s at the judge’s discretion on if he’ll want to schedule another hearing to have the parties answer questions or go over their concerns about the settlement.”
The June 2 hearing in Sacramento will be the first step in approving the settlement. Some of the actions the plaintiffs are asking the court to make include granting preliminary approval of the agreement, approving the class notice and claim process, approving the award calculation methodology, and to schedule a final fairness hearing, at which time final approval of the class action settlement could be considered by the court.
According to the settlement, those that had property seized or destroyed from seven different homeless encampment sites would have the ability to submit claim forms for compensation. Upon submitting a form, claimants would be given points depending on the value of their claim – standard claims would receive a maximum of $2,500, and substantial claims would receive a maximum of $5,000.
The settlement fund would be distributed after final approval of the settlement at a hearing to be set by the court approximately 90 days following preliminary approval of the class action settlement. If any funds are left over after a certain time period, the funds would be donated to a nonprofit corporation serving homeless individuals in the county.
“Resolving this lawsuit at this early stage of the litigation was financially prudent,” said Russ Brown, a public information officer for Yuba County. “Had this lawsuit taken its full path through the court process, the cost to our community would have far exceeded any eventual successful outcome. It is an unfortunate reality of our judicial process that the cost of defending actions often dictates quick steps toward a settlement.”
The settlement hearing is scheduled for June 2 at 1:30 p.m. at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California – 501 I St., Sacramento.