The City Council today approved paying more than $12 million to settle two wrongful arrest lawsuits stemming from the
In one settlement, the city will pay a total of $11 million to settle the federal class-action case filed by some 900 people detained or arrested during a March 20, 2003 protest. All charges were eventually dropped.
In the other settlement, the city will pay $1.14 million to settle a case filed 16 individual plaintiffs. Earlier this week, Corporation Council Stephen Patton described their cases as "compelling," noting they volunteered to depart peacefully or weren't even involved in the protests but were nevertheless corralled and arrested by police.
Nearly $6 million of the payments will go to pay lawyers who represented the people who filed the cases, in part because the city did not start trying to settle until an appellate court last year described the police conduct at the protest as "idiotic."
That ruling made it "highly unlikely" the city could have won the case, Patton said. Going to trial could have increased the costs in the combined cases to more than $20 million, he said.