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$2.375 Million Settlement in Over-Detention Suit at Santa Clara California Jail

by David M. Reutter

On December 16, 2022, the federal court for the Northern District of California entered final approval of a settlement agreement in a class-action suit alleging Santa Clara County continued to hold detainees in jail after the county District Attorney (DA) declined to prosecute them. The agreement included a payment of $2.375 million to the estimated 244 class members who were harmed and their attorneys.

The suit was filed by Dylan Camarlinghi on April 26, 2021, alleging the county violated the Fourteenth Amendment by failing to release him within a reasonable period of time after the DA declined to prosecute him. Camarlinghi was arrested on February 9, 2020, for an alleged altercation at the home of a friend. He was released five days later, on February 14, 2020. But a year later he learned the DA’s Office had actually declined to prosecute him after just two days, on February 11, 2020.

“That actual information, the communication of the non-prosecutorial decision, is never told to the person at their release,” said Dami Animashaun, the lead attorney for a class of detainees similarly situated to Camarlighi. “They don’t tell you why you’re released; they don’t tell you ‘we’re releasing you three days after the DA dropped the case.’”

The policy he challenged “happened in complete secrecy,” Animashaun added. “No class member knew they were harmed.”

The parties reached their settlement on January 25, 2022. It created two subclasses of those the DA declined to prosecute between April 26, 2018, and April 26, 2021. The first class included everyone detained at the jail for 12 to 24 hours after the DA declined to prosecute them, so long as they had no other holds, warrants or reasons for detention. The second class consisted of those detained beyond 24 hours, like Camarlinghi.

Those in the first subclass received $295 for their 12-24 hours of over-detention. Those in the second subclass received that same amount, plus another $295 for each additional hour. Notices went out to 244 people believed to be included in the two subclasses. Recipients had a choice to file a claim by September 4, 2022, or to object or opt out of the settlement by October 28, 2022.

The settlement allocated $395,000 for various costs: Up to $50,000 for Notice to the Class and administrative costs incurred by the Settlement Administrator; a $20,000 incentive award for Camarlinghi, in addition to his class award; and the remainder covering fees and costs for Animashaun and two other New York City attorneys, Janet M. Herold and Lucy B. Bansal, both of Justice Catalyst Law, as well as San Francisco attorney Rachel Lederman. See: Camarlinghi v. Santa Clara Cty., USDC (N.D. Cal.), Case No. 5:21-cv-03020.

Additional source: Mercury News

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