Attorneys in mediation over Tenaha traffic stops lawsuit

BEAUMONT, TX (News Release) - By Donna McCollum - email

NACOGDOCHES, Texas (KTRE) - Attorney Tim Garrigan knows a class-action suit is a real gamble for everyone involved. Right before a judge could have announced his decision on class-action certification, mediation came into the picture.

"The plaintiffs asked the judge to withhold ruling on the class certification while this mediation process runs its course, to see if the case can be settled," Garrigan said.

The parties have about 90 days to work matters out with the help of a third party. It's a complicated task concerning allegations that Shelby County District Attorney Lynda K. Russell and numerous city officials orchestrated illegal seizures of more than 140 motorists passing through Tenaha during a three-year period. No wonder the federal judge is encouraging mediation.

"Both parties have a real interest in trying to find a reasonable grounds for settlement," Garrigan said. "And that's where this case sits right now."

Aside from the civil proceedings, defendants are targets in a federal criminal investigation. One more reason why a settlement is in their best interest.

Garrigan knew from experience to expect a long legal battle.

"You don't enter into a class action without fully understanding how complicated, how labor intensive it can be," Garrigan said. "You don't do that sort of thing lightly."

His clients are learning as they go.

"They're very interested," Garrigan said. "They're willing to travel for the proceedings. All that's very important in these things."

It's still too early to determine if an agreement or a judge's ruling will settle the matter.

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