- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 5, 2015

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - St. Joseph County will pay $270,000 to settle a federal class-action lawsuit that accuses the northern Indiana county of failing to provide those arrested with probable cause hearings within 48 hours.

After giving preliminary approval for the settlement earlier this year, U.S. District Judge Theresa Springman anticipates giving the settlement final approval by this November. She conducted a “fairness hearing” on Tuesday to give those involved in the case a chance to make any objections to the settlement, but both sides agreed it was fair and reasonable.

The lawsuit was filed in 2011 by John P. Donovan, who was arrested in 2009 by Indiana State Police and held for longer than 48 hours without a probable cause hearing. He ultimately was charged with a license plate infraction.

Christopher Meyers, the Fort Wayne-based attorney representing Donovan, is expected to receive about $108,000 of the settlement, the South Bend Tribune (https://bit.ly/1E7YYUD) reported. After other costs associated with the case are paid, about $146,500 will be distributed among 49 people who were held for more than 48 hours without probable cause hearings between March 30, 2009, and Oct. 22, 2010.

Twelve of the people involved in the settlement class could receive larger payments because they’ve claimed they suffered “emotional distress, mental anguish, loss of income or other special damage, in addition to loss of liberty.”

In November, county attorney James Groves told the newspaper that St. Joseph County has changed its policy to correct what essentially was a weekend detainment issue. He said the policy now ensures that probable cause hearings occur within 48 hours for people who are arrested without warrants.

St. Joseph County is among numerous other counties in Indiana that have faced similar lawsuits in recent years.


Information from: South Bend Tribune, https://www.southbendtribune.com

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