Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Homeless can bring class-action suit
for destruction of their property

Homeless people who had their personal property destroyed by Fresno officials can join a class-action lawsuit against the city, a federal judge has ruled.

"People who are homeless, without residence, whose property has been taken and immediately destroyed," may file a class-action civil rights suit against Fresno, Judge Oliver W. Wanger said.

Last year, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights sued the city the behalf of six homeless plaintiffs, claiming police and sanitation workers violated their rights by defining their property as trash and bulldozing their makeshift encampments.

Last November, Wanger issued a preliminary injunction blocking the city from raiding the tent towns and destroying homeless people's belongings until the case was resolved. Workers took people's belongings without notice and didn't give them an opportunity to claim their things, he said.

Fresno city officials opposed granting class-action status, saying they conformed with the terms of the injunction and they were crafting a policy to store homeless people's belongings.

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