1 minute read

Pottinger v. City of Miami

Negotiations Lead To Settlement Agreement

As a result of the lawsuit, Miami participated in a countywide effort to provide services and assistance to homeless people. In keeping with its past and ongoing efforts, Miami committed itself to ensuring that the legal and constitutional rights of all homeless people be fully respected by all city policies, rules, regulations, practices, officials, and personnel. On 18 December 1997, Miami Mayor Xavier Suarez signed a resolution approving a settlement with the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida to end the nine-year lawsuit filed on behalf of the homeless people of Miami. The settlement agreement resulted from the collective efforts of American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) attorneys on behalf of the homeless, the city attorney's office, and many other community leaders, homeless activists, and homeless people over the last two years. The agreement provided for police training regarding the circumstances and rights of homeless people. Miami agreed to implement various forms of training for its law enforcement officers to sensitize them to the unique struggle and circumstances of homeless persons and to ensure that their legal rights shall be fully respected.

The agreement set up a protocol for law enforcement contacts with homeless persons to prevent arrests, harassment, and the destruction of their property. The Miami Police Department adopted a departmental order regarding the treatment of the homeless within the city which reflected the city's commitment to respect the constitutional rights of homeless people and implemented the protocol which law enforcement officers must follow when they encounter homeless persons. Records regarding police contacts were mandated. An advisory committee was set up to monitor compliance with the agreement. The committee has monitored all police contacts with homeless people by interviewing them on the streets, by patrolling with police officers, by accompanying city outreach workers in areas with high concentrations of the homeless, by overseeing police training, by reviewing the training curriculum, and by reviewing information on file with the appropriate unit within the Miami Police Department. The advisory committee has also received and has investigated complaints by homeless people. A $600,000 compensation fund was set up for the homeless who have been injured by the unconstitutional conduct that was condemned by the federal courts. Each successful claimant was awarded a debit card in the amount of $1,500.00. Attorney fees for the plaintiffs' lawyers were also included in the settlement.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1995 to PresentPottinger v. City of Miami - Significance, City's Treatment Of Homeless Violated Their Constitutional Rights, Negotiations Lead To Settlement Agreement