Tenaha illegal search and seizure motion for Class Certification
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS MARSHALL DIVISION
JAMES MORROW, and a Proposed Class of Other Similarly Situated Persons Plaintiffs,
CITY OF TENAHA DEPUTY CITY MARSHAL BARRY WASHINGTON, et al Defendants.
CIVIL ACTION NO. 2-08-cv-288-TJW
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Pending before the Court is Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification (Dkt. No. 179),
Plaintiffs' Supplemental Motion for Class Certification (Dkt. No. 194), and Plaintiffs Second
Supplemental Motion for Class Certification (Dkt. No. 213). In the motions, the named plaintiffs
("Plaintiffs") seek certification of a class of motorists and passengers who are subject to the City
of Tenaha's allegedly discriminatory interdiction program under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
23(b)(2) for declaratory, injunctive, and monetary relief. The Court held a hearing on the
motions on November 9, 2010, but, at the parties' request, stayed its ruling on the motions for
class certification to give the parties an opportunity to mediate this case (Dkt. No. 212). Then,
on December 6, 2010, the Supreme Court accepted certiorari in Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes,
to determine, in part, "[w]hether claims for monetary relief can be certified under Federal Rule
of Civil Procedure 23(b)(2) – which by its terms is limited to injunctive or corresponding
declaratory relief – and, if so, under what circumstances." 131 S.Ct. 795 (2010). Because the
Supreme Court's ruling weighed so heavily on the issue of class certification in this case, the
court stayed its ruling on the motion for class certification pending the Supreme Court's ruling in
Wal-Mart. The Supreme Court issued its ruling in Wal-Mart on June 20, 2011. See Wal-Mart
Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, 131 S.Ct. 2541 (2011). After considering the parties' filings, evidence,
oral arguments, and the applicable law, the Court ORDERS that the motion for class certification
should be GRANTED-IN-PART and a Rule 23(b)(2) class certified for injunctive and
declaratory relief as discussed below. However, the Court does not certify any claims for
monetary relief as part of the Rule 23(b)(2) class.
Plaintiffs bring this action against various city officials in Tenaha, located in Shelby
County, Texas, including Deputy City Marshal Barry Washington ("Washington"), Mayor
George Bowers ("Bowers"), Shelby County District Attorney Linda K. Russell ("Russell"),
Shelby County District Attorney Investigator Danny Green ("Green"), and Shelby County
Precinct 4 Constable Randy Whatley ("Whatley"). Plaintiffs allege that the Defendants
developed an illegal "stop and seize" practice of targeting, stopping, detaining, searching, and
often seizing property from individuals who are, or appear to be, members of a racial or ethnic
minority and their passengers. Plaintiffs refer to this allegedly discriminatory stop and seize
practice as Tenaha's "interdiction program" and allege that it began when Tenaha hired
Washington as a Deputy City Marshal on November 1, 2006, and is still ongoing. According to
Plaintiffs, defendants Washington and Whatley targeted members of the proposed class for
traffic stops because of their race or ethnicity and then, with the approval and complicity of the
other defendants, subjected them to detention, arrest, or search and seizure without legal
justification and in violation of their constitutional rights. Plaintiffs further allege that the
Defendants instituted the interdiction program in order to enrich their offices and themselves by
seizing and converting cash and other valuable personal property they could find during the
course of the illegal stop and seize practice. Plaintiffs claim that the Defendants' conduct
violates their Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures and
their Fourteenth Amendment rights to equal protection and due process. Plaintiffs seek classwide
declaratory, injunctive, and equitable monetary relief, as well as compensatory and punitive
A. Tenaha's "Interdiction Program"
The City of Tenaha hired Washington in the fall of 2006 to be a Deputy City Marshal.
Deposition of Barry Washington ("Washington Depo") at 56:11-14, Exhibit 1 to Plaintiffs'
Motion for Class Certification ("Opening Brief") (Dkt. No. 179). The evidence demonstrates
that shortly after Washington started on November 1, 2006, the City of Tenaha began its
"interdiction program." See Washington Depo at 51:15-16, 64:16-17, 68:12-69:4, 70:8:19,
97:23-99:18; Deposition of George Bowers ("Bowers' Depo") at 41:3-7, Exhibit 5 to Opening
Brief; First Deposition of Randy Whatley on April 12, 2010 ("Whatley Depo I") at 89:17-90:21,
Exhibit 2 to Opening Brief.
Defendant Whatley, the Shelby County Precinct 4 Constable, testified that he understood
that the goal of the interdiction program was to stop as many people as possible for traffic
violations to look for other criminal activity, primarily narcotics trafficking. Whatley Depo I at
124:23-125:13. Whatley testified that over the course of the interdiction program that as many
as 500 or even 1,000 people were stopped as part of the interdiction program. Whatley Depo I at
158:1-8. Both Washington and Whatley testified that the interdiction program evolved, but was
never written down and that there was never anyone in charge of it. Washington Depo at 68:12-
69:4; Whatley Depo I at 126:16-127:8. However, Constable Whatley also testified that all of the
citizens caught up in the interdiction program were subject to the same rules and treated the
same. Whatley Depo I at 85:8-21. In addition, Tenaha City Marshal Fred Walker ("Walker"),
who was designated by the City of Tenaha to testify about the interdiction program on its behalf,
testified that all citizens are treated according to the same rules under the interdiction program
and that there have been no changes made to the interdiction program. Walker Depo at 5:23-6:8,
45:20-24, 85:8-12. Walker also testified that there are no limits to the searches that can be
performed under the interdiction program, that whether to arrest someone under the interdiction
program is up to the discretion of the officer who made the stop, and that there are no limits on
what the officer can seize under the interdiction program. Deposition of Fred Walker ("Walker
Depo") at 30:4-33:20, Exhibit 4 to Opening Brief.
Deputy Marshal Washington testified that God "ordained" him to patrol Highway 59, and
that God gave him the gift of being able to put crooks in jail. Washington Depo at 55:18-19 and
65:2-5. Washington described the "interdiction traffic stop philosophy" in his deposition, saying
that "when we're making traffic stops, you have to look beyond the initial traffic stop and the
traffic violation if somebody is giving you indicators that there's criminal activity taking place."
Washington Depo at 73:13-17. When asked what those indicators of criminal activity might be,
Well, there could be several things. There could even be indicators on the
vehicle. The number one thing is you have two guys stopped, and these two guys
are from New York.
They're two Puerto Ricans. They're driving a car that has a Baptist
Church symbol on the back, says First Baptist Church of New York.
They're traveling during the week, when most people are working and
children are in school. They've borrowed this car from their aunt, and their aunt
is back in New York.
You interview the two men, and they don't have a job, and they're on
vacation. They don't have any substantial amount of luggage for the two people
to travel from New York to Houston.
They're nervous. They have conflicting stories. Sometimes they don't
even know each other. They may have emblems on the car that have Gregg
County Sheriff's Office on it. Just indicators.
Washington Depo at 73:19-74:18.
During interdiction stops, once Washington or Whatley made the decision to seize money
or property and/or arrest an individual, they would call the Shelby County District Attorney's
Office or Defendant Russell, the Shelby County District Attorney, to reach a consensus as to
how to proceed—i.e., whether to release the individuals, arrest them, seize their property, or
return property that had already been seized. Whatley Depo I at 163:21-168:19. District
Attorney Russell had an agreement with the Tenaha Marshal's office and the Constable's office
on what percentage of the seizures the District Attorney would get. Whatley Depo I at 148:3-21.
Plaintiffs allege that the interdiction program targets drivers or passengers who are or
appear to be members of a racial or ethnic minority. To support this assertion, Plaintiffs offer
statistical evidence that the proportion of racial and ethnic minorities stopped in Tenaha
increased dramatically in 2007, shortly after the interdiction program began in November 2006.
Plaintiffs allege that the only disclosed racial profiling information in this case—the "Tier 1
data"—reflects a dramatic increase in the proportion of Tenaha's traffic stops of non-Caucasians
in 2007. See Tiered 1 profiling data for Tenaha from 2003 through 2009 ("Tier 1 Data"), Exhibit
17 to Opening Brief. Based on Plaintiffs' calculations, from 2003 through 2006, before the
interdiction program was put into effect, an average of about 32% of Tenaha's traffic stops were
of non-Caucasians. In 2007, the first full year of the interdiction program, the proportion of non-
Caucasians increased dramatically to between 46.8% and 51.9%, depending on the records used.1
Plaintiffs argue that when this difference is statistically analyzed, the probability of the increase
occurring as a matter of random chance approachs zero. Plaintiffs also argue that the increase
1 In 2007 Tenaha changed the format of the report for the Tier 1 data on stops, and appears to have shifted the 12
months covered in each year. Accordingly, Plaintiff calculated the percentage of non-Caucasians stopped in 2007
using 2007 data reported in the original and revised format. Exhibit 17 to the Opening Brief lists the 2007
information in the original format as 2007a and the 2007 information in the revised format as 2007b. 2007a reflects
that 51.9% of the stops were of non-Caucasians while 2007b reports that 46.8% of the stops were of non-
Caucasians. See Tier 1 Data.
remains similarly significant for 2008, where the number of non-Caucasians stopped was 45.7%.
Plaintiffs further argue that in 2009, after this lawsuit was filed, the proportion shifted
dramatically, decreasing to only about 23% of Tenaha's stops involving non-Caucasians.
Plaintiffs contend that this drop occurred after the lawsuit. Plaintiffs, therefore, argue that the
high proportion of minorities subject to traffic stops under the interdiction program supports an
inference that non-Caucasians were selectively targeted for stops as part of the interdiction
Plaintiffs also suggest that the real motivation behind Tenaha's interdiction program was
to confiscate money and property from those stopped in order to enrich the city of Tenaha and
the Defendants personally. In other words, Plaintiffs allege that the Defendants had no
legitimate reason to suspect that those stopped by the interdiction program were engaged in
criminal activity, but, nevertheless, detained them, arrested them, and often searched their
vehicles without justification in the hopes that they would find valuables or money that could be
confiscated and used to enrich the City of Tenaha and themselves. Additionally, Plaintiffs allege
that Defendants had no reason to suspect that the money and property often confiscated under the
interdiction program was related to suspected criminal activity. In support of this allegation,
Plaintiffs provided evidence that the City of Tenaha could not articulate any reason to suspect
that Plaintiffs Morrow, Flores, or Parsons, the proposed class representatives, or named Plaintiffs
Watson, Busby, Dismukes, Dorman, or Pearson were engaged in criminal activity. Walker Depo
at 8:1-11:2 and 94:1-96:4. As discussed in more detail below, the evidence shows that each of
the proposed class representatives and named plaintiffs were arrested and/or detained, had their
vehicles searched, and had their property confiscated.
The offense report for Boatright and Henderson indicates that they were initially stopped
for "driving in the left lane for over a half mile without passing and crossing over white line."
Offense/Incident Report for Ronald Henderson and Jennifer Lynn Boatwright
("Boatright/Henderson Offense Report") at MOR00121, Exhibit F to Defendants' Response to
Motion for Class Certification ("Response") (Dkt. No. 201). Boatright is white, but Henderson
is African-American. Third Amended Complaint at ¶ 83. Walker stated that when he stopped
named Plaintiffs Boatright and Henderson, they had been smoking marijuana and that there was
drug paraphernalia in the car, including a glass marijuana pipe in the center console. Walker
Depo at 96:15-97:7, 99:25-100:19. Walker also claimed that Boatright and Henderson admitted
to buying illegal narcotics in Houston. Id. However, Walker could not explain how the $6,000
seized from Plaintiffs Boatright and Henderson was related to any criminal activity. Walker
Depo at 99:25-100:19. The Boatright/Henderson Offense Report indicates that Washington and
Whatley believed the cash to be the proceeds from narcotics trafficking because Boatright and
Henderson: (1) were traveling from Houston, Texas to Linden, Texas; (2) were in a rental car;
(3) had been smoking marijuana; (4) watched traffic passing while they were stopped; (5) and
admitted to buying marijuana at a bar. Boatright/Henderson Offense Report at MOR00123-
MRO00124. According to the Offense Report, these were "common factors" of illegal narcotics
trafficking. Id. at MOR00124.
Similarly, the offense report for named plaintiffs Busby and Watson states that they were
passengers in a car driven by Dale Christopher Agostini, who is African-American.
Offense/Incident Report for Dale Christopher Agostini, Amanee Yasameen Busby, and Stephen
Stuart Watson ("Busby/Watson Offense Report") at MOR00300-302, Exhibit G to Response.
Busby and Watson are also African-American. Third Amended Complaint at ¶ 39. They were
stopped for "traveling in left lane marked for passing only and would not move to right lane to
let vehicle move from middle medium." Id. at MOR00300. The report indicates that the vehicle
was searched after Constable Whatley's drug dog, K-9 Bo, "gave a positive alert on the rear left
door area of the vehicle." Id. However, there is no evidence in the record to indicate that the
roughly $50,000 in cash seized from the car was related in any way to criminal activity. Id.
During his deposition as the representative of the City of Tenaha, Walker could not articulate any
reason to suspect that Watson or Busby were engaged in criminal activity. Walker Depo at 8:1-
11:2 and 94:1-96:4
The offense report for named plaintiff Yuselff L. Dsimukes ("Dismukes") indicates that
he was one of two cars traveling together that were pulled over by Defendant Washington for
speeding violations. Offense Report of Eric Johnson, Dareyl Danield, Yuselff L. Dismukes
("Dismukes Offense Report") at MOR00001-MOR00004, Exhibit H to Response. However, the
report is somewhat unclear as to the specific speeding violation prompting the stop. The report
states: "the vehicle was stopped for speeding over 35 mph, clocked on radar at 41 mph and 49
mph in a 45 mph speed zone and at 60 mph in a 55 mph posted zone." Id. at MOR00003.
Dismukes is African-American. Third Amended Complaint at ¶ 57. The report indicates that
Defendant Washington "smelled the odor of burned marijuana" in both cars and that the K-9 Bo
alerted to the vehicle in which Mr. Dismukes was a passenger. Id. After speaking with
Defendant Russell, all three men, including named plaintiff Dismukes, were arrested based on
the fact that there were "large sums of US currency; odor of burned marijuana, [and] marijuana
residue" in one of the cars. Id. at MOR00004.
According to the police report, named plaintiffs Dorman and Pearson were pulled over
for "no LP light and FTC." Offence/Incident Report of Linda M. Dorman and Marvin C.
Pearson ("Dorman/Pearson Offense Report") at MOR00108, Exhibit B to Response. Dorman
and Pearson are African-American. Third Amended Complaint at ¶ 72. The offense report also
indicates that Washington "could smell a faint odor of what [he] believed to be marijuana" in the
car and that K-9 Bo alerted on the car. Dorman/Pearson Offense Report at MOR00108. The
report indicates that Washington searched the car and found roughly $4,000 in cash as well as
"green leafy substance and seeds" in the van. Id. at MOR 00109. Washington also found
"alterations in the van that appeared to used [sic] in the past to haul illegal contraband." Id.
Dorman and Pearson both signed an "Agreed Final Judgment of Forfeiture" in which they
forfeited the money found in the vehicle. Agreed Final Judgment of Forfeiture dated April 20,
2007, at MOR00119-MOR00120, Exhibit A to Response.
Plaintiffs point out that none of the named Plaintiffs had criminal cases filed against them
in the Shelby County District Clerk's office. Deposition of Lori Oliver ("Oliver Depo") at 36:8-
12 (in summary), 10:21-34:23 (each named Plaintiff discussed), Exhibit 7 to Opening Brief. In
fact, all of the named Plaintiffs who hired counsel had their civil forfeiture cases dismissed and
the money and property confiscated as part of the interdiction program returned to them. Oliver
Depo at 10:21-34:23 (each named Plaintiff discussed individually). Only named Plaintiffs
Dorman and Pearson, from whom $4,000 was seized, did not hire counsel and did recover the
money Defendants seized from them. Id. However, the Shelby County District Clerk testified
that Defendants obtained undated waivers of service and agreed judgments from several of the
named Plaintiffs, apparently at the time of the seizures, including Dorman, Pearson (Oliver Depo
at 21:24-27:12), Boatright, and Henderson (Oliver Depo at 28:23-29:22).
The Plaintiffs allege that the interdiction program is ongoing in Tenaha. As support, they
point to the fact that as of April 21, 2010, the date of Walker's deposition as the city's designee,
there had been no changes made to the interdiction program. Walker Depo at 45:17-24.
Defendants, however, argue that Defendant Washington is no longer the Constable of Precinct 4,
Deposition of Rich Campbell dated May 19, 2010 ("Campbell Depo I") at 22:14-17, Exhibit I to
Response, and that Shelby County does not currently operate an interdiction program other than
those maintained by municipalities and the DPS. Deposition of Rick Campbell dated August 11,
2010 ("Campbell Depo II") at 23:2-17, Exhibit J to Response.
B. The Morrow Stop
Named Plaintiff James Morrow ("Morrow") is African American and a proposed class
representative. He was stopped, detained, questioned, and his person and car were searched by
Defendant Washington on August 31, 2007. In addition, Washington seized $3,969 and two cell
phones from Morrow and arrested him. Washington Depo at 169:13-21; see also
Offense/Incident Report for James Morrow ("Morrow Offense Report") at MOR00212, Exhibit
12 to Opening Brief. Although the traffic summons indicates that Morrow was stopped for
failing to drive in a single marked lane, it does not appear that Washington charged Morrow with
this traffic offence. See Traffic Summons/Notes 29535 ("Morrow Traffic Summons") at MOR
00263, Exhibit 10 to Opening Brief. Instead, Washington charged Morrow with money
laundering. Id. The Offense Report indicates that Washington smelled "the odor of burned
marijuana" in the car and "noticed several burns in seat upholstery and signs of marijuana use."
Morrow Offense Report at MOR00211. Washington contacted Constable Whatley and asked
him to bring the K-9 Bo. Id. A camera in Constable Whatley's vehicle recorded the Morrow
stop from the time that Constable Whatley arrived on the scene. Video of Morrow Stop
("Morrow Video"), Exhibit 1 at class certification hearing on November 9, 2011 ("Class Cert.
Hearing"), Disc 1 of 2. When Constable Whatley arrived on the scene, the following dialogue
took place between Washington and Whatley:
Washington: Would you take your K-9. If he alerts on the vehicle, I'm gonna
take his momma's vehicle away from him, and I'm gonna take his
Whatley: Oh, yeah. OK.
Washington: I'm gonna take his stuff from him.
Whatley: [Chuckles] OK.
Morrow Video at 00:00:48-00:01:08.
According to the Morrow Offense Report, K-9 Bo alerted on the vehicle. Id.
Washington then searched the vehicle and seized roughly $4,000. Id. at MOR00211-213.
During the initial search of the vehicle Whatley appears to discover the cash near the glove
compartment and chuckles. Morrow Video at 00:04:20. A few moments later, Whatley takes
the dog to the back of the vehicle and states that the dog alerted "right in there." Id. at 00:05:40.
"That may be some sort of a hauling spot. But you definitely got reasonable suspicion anyway
on the funds." Id. However, neither Washington nor Whatley appear to search that area of the
car in any meaningful way to determine if there are, in fact, drugs in the car. Id. The visibility
of the video is somewhat obscured by the placement of Washington's car between the camera
and Morrow's car. Additionally, much of the dialogue is difficult to understand because of the
traffic noise on the video. However, based on the Court's careful review of the video, Whatley
and Washington appear to do only a cursory search of the car, find the money, and confirm with
each other that they have reasonable suspicion to keep the funds. Morrow Video. During the
search, the following conversation transpires between Whatley and Washington:
Whatley: How much funds he have?
Washington: He's gonna have about $4,000 with what he got in his pocket. You
know, just nickel and dime stiff.
Id. at 00:07:50. Whatley then leaves the scene, and the video ends without either Washington or
Whatley arresting Morrow.
In his deposition, Washington stated that he confiscated Morrow's money and cell
phones because he believed that they were connected to criminal activity. Washington claims
that he based this belief on the fact that Morrow had conflicting stories and that there were signs
of marijuana use in the car. Washington Depo at 169:22-193:19; see also Morrow Offense
Report at MOR00211-212. However, Washington did not charge Morrow with a drug offense,
and could not explain why signs of marijuana use in the car would link the seized property to
illegal activity. Id.
Ultimately, Washington's reason for seizing the property and arresting Morrow appears
to be the fact that Morrow allegedly told Washington that he was traveling from Little Rock to
the Galleria Mall in Houston. Id. Washington's belief that the Galleria Mall in Houston is a
hotspot for narcotics trafficking and that "[n]ine out of ten arrests in seized currency reveals
traffickers pick up narcotics and sell narcotics at the Galleria Mall." Id.; Morrow Offense Report
at MOR00210-213. Washington also testified that one of reasons he was suspicious of Morrow
was because Morrow could not identify the name of the cousin he said he was visiting in
Houston. However, the police reports, Washington's own notes, and the video of the stop
suggest that Morrow did provide the name of the cousin he was visiting. Compare Washington
Depo at 171:7-8, 174:24-25, 178:16-20, and 182:7-8 with 190:11-192:9; see also Morrow Video
at 00:00:01. After his arrest, Morrow hired a lawyer. The money laundering charges were then
dropped and the money was returned to Morrow. Letter from Russell to Tim James, Exhibit. 13
to Opening Brief. District Attorney Russell stated in a letter to Morrow's attorney that she
believed, after reviewing the offense report, that there was "no probable cause to pursue this
matter further" and that she would "not feel comfortable . . . presenting this case to the Grand
C. The Flores and Parsons Stop
Named Plaintiffs Javier Flores ("Flores") and William Parsons ("Parsons") are proposed
class representatives. Flores is Hispanic, but Plaintiffs claim that he appears to some to be
African American. Parsons is of Macedonian descent, but Plaintiffs claim that he appears to
some to be Hispanic. Flores and Parsons were traveling through Tenaha on July 22, 2008 when
they were stopped by Defendant Whatley. The video of the stop indicates that Whatley stopped
them for speeding. Video of Flores/Parsons Stop ("Flores/Parsons Video") at 00:00:55, Exhibit
1 at Class Cert. Hearing, Disc 2 of 2, Video 10. After asking Flores to exit the car, Whatley
stated: "While I'm waiting on your driver's license, I'm going to just walk my dog around."
Flores/Parsons Video at 00:01:57. Defendant Whatley detained Flores and Parsons, questioned
them, searched their car, seized $8,400, arrested them, and threatened them with money
laundering charges before releasing them. Whately Depo at 204-16-205:4; see also Third
Amended Complaint at ¶¶ 97-100 (Dkt. No. 111); Whately's Offense/Incident Report of 7.23/08,
Exhibit 15 to Opening Brief. Whatley did not charge Flores or Parsons with a traffic offense.
Whatley Depo I at 205:5-207:3. Whatley testified that he searched Flores' and Parsons' car
because his narcotics dog alerted to drugs. However, no drugs were found in the car. Id. at
81:12-82:19 and 208:15-209:9. Whatley did find and seize $8,400 in their luggage in the trunk
of the car and charged them with money laundering. Id. at 200:17-201:21. Whatley testified that
he seized the money because he believed it was contraband based on his training and experience
and the fact that (1) his drug dog alerted to the car, (2) Flores and Parsons seemed uneasey, (3)
there were bandanas on the luggage, (4) the clothing in the luggage looked too large for Flores
and Parsons, (5) the money was bound by a rubber band and (5) a DEA officer in Pennsylvania
identified Flores and Parsons as a "meth and ice dealer." Id. at 207:4-208:9, 209:16-211:4,
207:4-214:14, 214:7-217:5, and 202:1-15. At the scene of the traffic stop, Washington told both
Flores and Parsons that they were being detained for "possession of money laundering."
Flores/Parsons Video at 00:33:35. After Flores and Parsons were taken back to the police
station, Washington told them that they were being detained but that he could not tell them what
the charges were unless they were arrested. Flores/Parsons Video at 00:42:50. Washington
indicated that the reason they were being detained was because of "discrepancies on - - about - -
about the amount of money and placement of the money and different things like that."
Flores/Parsons Video at 00:42:17. Whatley concluded that the money seized was connected to
unspecified narcotics activity in Pennsylvania, based on his experience and training. However,
Whatley never identified what kind of narcotics activity, what kind of drugs were involved, and
never asked the authorities in Pennsylvania if they had any reason to think there was a
connection. Id. The Court's review of the video record of Flores and Parson's stop and arrest
also indicates that Whatley was not aware of the rumors of Flores' or Parsons' alleged
connection to drug activity at the time Whatley searched the car, seized the money, and detained
the men. Flores/Parson Video at 00:00:01 to 01:32:50. The video of the stop also shows that
Defendant Washington arrived at the scene while Whatley was searching the car; however,
Washington did not actively participate in the search. See Flores/Parsons Video at 00:20:30.
Flores and Parsons were no-billed by a grand jury and District Attorney Russell returned the
seized money. Letter from Russell to John Smith, Exhibit 16 to Opening Brief.
The class certification determination rests within the sound discretion of the trial court,
exercised within the constraints of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23. Oscar Private Equity
Invs. v. Allegiance Telecom, Inc., 487 F.3d 261, 264 (5th Cir. 2007). The party seeking
certification bears the burden of establishing that all requirements of Rule 23 have been
satisfied." Unger v. Amedisys Inc., 401 F.3d 316, 320 (5th Cir. 2005). "Rule 23 does not set
forth a mere pleading standard. A party seeking class certification must affirmatively
demonstrate his compliance with the Rule—that is, he must be prepared to prove that there are in
fact sufficiently numerous parties, common questions of law or fact, etc." Wal-Mart, 131 S.Ct.
at 2551 (original emphasis). Before granting certification, a court must conduct a rigorous
analysis to determine whether the plaintiffs have met the Rule 23 requirements. Castano v. Am.
Tobacco Co., 84 F.3d 734, 740 (5th Cir. 1996). "[S]ometimes it may be necessary for the court
to probe behind the pleadings before coming to rest on the certification question," and the
"rigorous analysis" required of the court may "entail some overlap with the merits of the
plaintiff's underlying claim." Wal-Mart, 131 S.Ct. at 2551 (quotation and citations omitted).
However, a district court cannot deny certification based on its belief that the plaintiff could not
prevail on the merits. Castano, 84 F.3d at 744 (citing Miller v. Mackey Int'l, 452 F.2d 424, 427
(5th Cir. 1971)). The Court has an independent duty to determine the propriety of the class
certification and is not limited to the arguments made by the parties. See Daniels v. City of New
York, 196 F.R.D. 409, 413 n.5 (S.D.N.Y. 2001); Anderson v. Cornejo, 2000 WL 286902, at *3
(N.D. Ill. 2000). Because a district court maintains great discretion in certifying and managing a
class action, a district court's decision to certify a class will be reversed only upon a showing that
the court abused its discretion, or that it applied incorrect legal standards in reaching its decision.
James v. City of Dallas, Texas, 254 F.3d 551, 562 (5th Cir. 2001).
A. Adverse Inferences
Before analyzing the requirements of Rule 23, the Court will address two issues that were
raised in the class certification briefing regarding whether the Court should draw adverse
inferences from (1) the failure of Tenaha and the Constable's Office to collect and report racial
profiling information as required by Texas law and (2) Defendant Russell's and Defendant
Green's refusal to answer questions during their depositions on Fifth Amendment grounds.
1. Adverse Inference based on Failure to Maintain Racial Profiling
First, the Court will consider whether to draw an adverse inference from the failure of
Tenaha's law enforcement agencies to collect and report racial profiling evidence, as required by
Texas Law. Plaintiffs argue that this failure supports an inference that the Defendants were
actively attempting to conceal evidence regarding the discriminatory aspects of the interdiction
program. At the very least, however, Plaintiffs argue that this failure should excuse any
perceived deficiencies in the statistical analysis. The Court agrees.
Texas Law requires that all law enforcement agencies adopt a "detailed written policy on
racial profiling" that requires the agency to collect racial profiling information for all traffic
stops, arrests, and searches and seizures, as well as report racial profiling information to the
governing bodies served by the agency. TEX. CODE CRIM. PRO. § 2.132(b)(6) and (7) (2001).2
The evidence clearly demonstrates that Tenaha's law enforcement agencies did not comply with
these statutory requirements. Defendant Whatley testified, and Defendants do not dispute, that
the Precinct 4 Constable's office of Shelby County is a law enforcement agency, but that he did
not have a racial profiling policy or report the racial profiling information to the County.
Whatley Depo I at 133:1-136:13. Whatley also testified that he was aware of no way to
2 This section of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure was amended in 2009, but the relevant provisions are the
same. See TEX. CODE CRIM. PRO. § 2.132(b)(6) and (7) (2009).
determine if he was disproportionately stopping members of ethnic groups. Id. The statistical
evidence that has been produced in this case, the Tier 1 data provided by the Tenaha police
department, appears to be the only racial profiling information kept by any of Tenaha's law
enforcement agencies. This Tier 1 data includes information about the racial make-up of stops
made in Tenaha, but not the required information on detentions, searches, or seizures. See Tier 1
Data. Accordingly, it is undisputed that both the Tenaha police department and constable's
office failed to collect racial profiling information that they were required by law to collect and
report and that would have clearly shown the impact of the interdiction program on racial and
ethnic minorities. Under these circumstances, the Court is persuaded that the failure of the
Tenaha police department and the constable's office to collect, report, and maintain racial
profiling information gives rise to an inference that this failure was the result of an attempt to
conceal the illegal targeting of racial and ethnic minorities for stops, detentions, arrests, searches,
and seizures as part of the interdiction program. To hold otherwise would allow law
enforcement agencies, counties, and municipalities to avoid liability for discriminatory practices
by choosing not to maintain records related to those practices.
2. Adverse Inference based on Defendants Russell's and Defendant Green's
Assertion of the Fifth Amendment
Next, the Court will address the issue of whether to draw an adverse inference for
purposes of class certification based on Defendant Russell's and Defendant Green's assertion of
the Fifth Amendment and refusal to answer questions during their depositions on class
certification issues. On April 15, 2010, the Court stayed discovery as to defendants Russell and
Green for 90 days due to indications that both were subject to pending criminal investigations
related to the same facts and circumstances giving rise to this lawsuit (Dkt. No. 149). Upon the
expiration of the 90 day stay, both Defendants Russell and Green requested a further stay of
discovery directed towards them until the conclusion of the criminal investigations into their
activity (Dkt. Nos. 167 and 169). On July 10, 2010, the Court issued an order denying both
motions for protection. (Dkt. No. 177). The Court reasoned that (1) neither Russell nor Green
provided any evidence that they were currently under indictment or that indictments against them
were imminent or even certain; (2) staying discovery toward them would result in an indefinite
delay in the proceedings and prejudice the Plaintiffs; and (3) the public interest would best be
served by the prompt resolution of the case. In its order denying the stay, the Court ruled that it
would "limit any adverse inference arising from either defendant's decision to invoke his or her
Fifth Amendment right to class certification issues." At their depositions, both Russell and
Green refused to answer any questions whatsoever, other than identifying themselves by name,
based on their Fifth Amendment right against self incrimination. See Deposition of Lynda K.
Russell ("Russell Depo"), Exhibit 1 to Plaintiffs' Supplemental Motion for Class Certification
("First Supp. Motion") (Dkt. No. 194); Deposition of Danny Green ("Green Depo"), Exhibit 2 to
First Supp. Motion.
"[W]hile a person may refuse to testify during civil proceedings on the ground that his
testimony might incriminate him ... his refusal to testify may be used against him in a civil
proceeding." Hinojosa v. Butler, 547 F.3d 285, 292 (5th Cir. 2008) (quoting Farace v. Indep.
Fire Ins. Co., 699 F.2d 204, 210 (5th Cir.1983)). It is well settled that "the Fifth Amendment
does not forbid adverse inferences against parties to civil actions when they refuse to testify in
response to probative evidence offered against them." Baxter v. Palmigiano, 425 U.S. 308, 318,
96 S.Ct. 1551, 47 L.Ed.2d 810 (1976). However, whether or not to permit such an adverse
inference in a civil case is left to the discretion of the district court. Hinojosa, 547 F.3d at 291-
92 (quoting FDIC v. Fid. & Deposit Co., 45 F.3d 969, 977 (5th Cir. 1995)).
Plaintiffs argue that Russell's and Green's assertion of their Fifth Amendment right
against self incrimination to every substantive question asked at their depositions justifies the
Court drawing an adverse inference on the issues of numerosity, commonality, typicality,
adequacy, and whether Defendants acted on grounds that apply generally to the members of the
proposed class. Defendants, however, argue that it would be prejudicial for the Court to draw an
adverse inference against all of the Defendants because only Russell and Green invoked their
Fifth Amendment right against self incrimination. Additionally, Defendants argue that, as a
practical matter, there is no way for the Court to draw an adverse inference against Russell and
Green without that adverse inference likewise being drawn against all of the Defendants. There
is ample evidence, however, that the Defendants acted in concert with respect to the interdiction
program. For example, Whatley testified that he and Washington called the District Attorney's
office during interdiction stops to determine whether to release the individuals, arrest them, seize
their property, or return property that had already been seized. Whatley Depo I at 163:21-
168:19. Whatley also testified that Russell had an agreement with the Tenaha Marshal's office
and the Constable's office on what percentage of the seizures the District Attorney would get.
Whatley Depo I at 148:3-21. Because the evidence suggests that all of the Defendants acted in
concert with respect to the interdiction program, the Court finds that there is no prejudice in
applying any adverse inference drawn from Russell's and Green's refusal to answer questions to
all of the Defendants.
Defendants further argue that because the merits of Plaintiffs' case do not turn on class
certification, the questions related to class certification are not the type of probative evidence that
can be the basis for an adverse inference. The Court is not persuaded by Defendants' argument.
Russell and Green refused to answer questions regarding:
- • the interdiction program and what role the District Attorney's office played in the
interdiction program, see Russell Depo at 39-43; Green Depo at 32-35;
- • the number of citizens who were affected by the interdiction program, see Russell Depo
at 82-84; Green Depo at 52-53;
- • whether the treatment of Morrow, Flores, and Parsons was typical of others subject to the
interdiction program, see Russell Depo at 80-82; Green Depo at 49-50;
- • what type of records are kept by the district attorney's office regarding cases that are
presented for the filing of criminal charges; see Russell Depo at 9-10;
- • racial profiling, see Russell Depo at 50-52 and 80; Green Depo at 39;
- • traffic stops, see Russell Depo at14, 41, 48-49, 60, 111-12, and 118; Green Depo at 38-
- • detentions, see Russell Depo at 52 and 119; Green Depo at 40 and 72-73;
- • searches, see Russell Depo at 54-55, 61, and 119; Green Depo at 40 and 73;
- • seizures, see Russell Depo at 57-59, 110, and 120; Green Depo at 41-43;
- • arrests, see Russell Depo at56-58, 67, and 120; and
- • expenditure of forfeiture funds, see Russell Depo at 96-117; Green Depo at 33 and 64-72.
Russell also cited her right against self incrimination and refused to answer the question: "You
discussed with Barry Washington and Randy Whatley how to make racially-motivated stops and
make those stops appear legal, didn't you?" See Russell Depo at 118:18-20. These topics, and
the questions asked by Plaintiffs with respect to these topics, are highly probative of the issue of
class certification. Defendants attempt to downplay the significance of Russell's and Green's
refusal to answer these questions by pointing out that Russell and Green participated in other
forms of discovery—i.e. they provided documentary evidence. However, as discussed earlier,
Tenaha and Shelby County failed to collect the required racial profiling data, and, thus, this
highly probative information could not be obtained through documentary evidence. In addition,
Whatley testified that he was aware of no way to determine if he was disproportionately stopping
members of ethnic groups. Whatley Depo I at 133:1-136:13. Accordingly, much of the highly
relevant information sought from Russell and Green during their depositions—i.e. whether those
stopped, detained, arrested, searched, or whose property was seized pursuant to the interdiction
program were disproportionately minorities—was not available through alternative forms of
Finally, Defendants argue that because the actions of Whatley and Washington directly
relate to class certification issues, Russell's and Green's testimony is irrelevant to class
certification. Russell and Green did not maintain, however, that they had no relevant
information in response to Plaintiffs questions. To the contrary, they responded that they were
refusing to answer Plaintiffs' questions—which related to class certification—because their
answers might incriminate them. The implication is that Russell and Green had information
relevant to the issues of class certification but that they withheld the information because they
feared it would be incriminating.
Accordingly, the Court concludes that it is appropriate to draw an adverse inference on
the issues of numerosity, commonality, typicality, adequacy, and whether Defendants acted on
grounds that apply generally to the members of the proposed class from Russell's and Green's
refusal to answer questions on Fifth Amendment grounds.
B. Adequacy of Class Definition
The Fifth Circuit has held that the existence of an ascertainable class of persons to be
represented by the proposed class representative is an implied prerequisite of Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 23. See John v. National Sec. Fire & Cas. Co., 501 F.3d 443, 445, n.3 (5th Cir.
2007) ("It is elementary that in order to maintain a class action, the class sought to be represented
must be adequately defined and clearly ascertainable") (quoting DeBremaecker v. Short, 433
F.2d 733, 734 (5th Cir. 1970)). The proposed class must be clearly defined so that it is
administratively feasible for the Court to determine whether a particular individual is a member.
Daniels, 198 F.R.D. at 414 (citing Rios v. Marshall, 100 F.R.D. 395, 403 (S.D.N.Y. 1983)
(quoting 7 Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1760 at
581 (1972)). The Court must be able to make this determination without having to answer
numerous fact-intensive questions. Id. (quoting Williams v. Glickman, 1997 U.S. Dist. LEXIS
1683, at *13 (D.D.C. 1997)); see also Crosby v. Social Sec. Admin., 796 F.2d 576, 580 (1st Cir.
1986) (explaining that a class definition should be based on objective criteria so that class
members may be identified without individualized fact finding). "A class definition is
inadequate if a court must make a determination of the merits of the individual claims to
determine whether a particular person is a member of the class." James Wm. Moore et al.,
Moore's Federal Practice ¶ 23.21[c] (3rd ed. 2007).
1. Plaintiffs' Proposed Class Definition
Plaintiff's proposed class consists of people who:
1. Are, or appear(ed) to be, members of racial or ethnic minority groups and those in their
2. Were, or will be, traveling in, through, or near Tenaha at any time after October 2006,
and subject to the Defendants' interdiction program,
3. Were or are subject to being stopped, detained and/or arrested by one or more of the
Defendants without articulable suspicion of criminal activity, and/or
4. Were or are questioned and/or their vehicle was or is searched by one or more
Defendant, without an articulable suspicion of criminal activity, to find valuable
property or money.
Defendants contend that Plaintiffs' proposed class definition is too vague and does not
adequately define the boundaries of those included in the proposed class. Although the Court
does not agree with all of the Defendants' arguments, the Court does agree that Plaintiffs' class
definition is imperfect. For example, Plaintiff's proposed definition would require the Court to
clearly define the interdiction program to identify class members. Defendants also object to
defining the class based on whether "an articulable suspicion of criminal activity" exists. The
Court proposed this language in an earlier order based, in part, on the Southern District of New
York's certification of a similar class with a definition based on "the absence of the reasonable
articulable suspicion of criminal activity." See Daniels v. City of New York, 198 F.R.D. 409, 412
(S.D.N.Y. 2001); see also Order dated August 20, 2009, Dkt. No. 86. However, the factual
record developed as part of the briefing and argument on the motion for class certification
establishes that proposed class representatives Morrow, Parsons, and Flores are not members of
such a class. For example, the evidence indicates that Defendants had "an articulable suspicion
of criminal activity" with respect to the detention, arrest, and search of proposed class
representative Morrow as well as the subsequent seizure of his property. The Morrow Offense
Report indicates that Defendant Washington smelled "the odor of burned marijuana" in the car,
"noticed several burns in seat upholstery and signs of marijuana use," and that Defendant
Whatley's drug dog alerted on Morrow's car. Morrow Offense Report at MOR00211.
Defendant Washington also testified that he confiscated Morrow's money and cell phones
because Washington believed that Morrow's conflicting stories and the signs of drug use in the
car suggested that the property was related to criminal activity. Washington Depo at 169:22-
193:19; Morrow Offense Report at MOR00211-212l. Although the Court believes that these
alleged explanations likely do not rise to the level of reasonable articulable suspicion justifying
the actions of Whatley and Washington given the surrounding circumstances, they do meet the
requirements of "articulable suspicion" in the proposed class definition. Accordingly, Morro
Likewise, the Defendants have provided "an articulable suspicion of criminal activity"
with respect to the detentions and searches of proposed class representatives Parsons and Flores
as well as the seizure of their property. Defendant Whatley testified that he searched Flores and
Parsons' car because his narcotics dog alerted on the car. Whatley Depo I at 209:1-7. Whatley
also testified that he seized the money because he believed it was contraband based on this
training and experience and the fact that (1) his drug dog alerted to the car, (2) Flores and
Parsons seemed uneasey, (3) there were bandanas on the luggage, (4) the clothing in the luggage
looked too large for Flores and Parsons, (5) the money was bound by a rubber band and (5) a
DEA officer in Pennsylvania identified Flores and Parsons as a "meth and ice dealer." Id. at
207:4-208:9, 209:16-211:4, 207:4-214:14, 214:7-217:5, and 202:1-15. As with the Morrow stop,
the Court's review of the entire record reveals numerous inconsistencies and suggests that
Defendant Whatley's actions with respect to Flores and Parsons may not have been legally
justified. However, the "articulable suspicion" standard in the proposed class definition was
designed to avoid the need for individualized determinations as to the reasonableness of each
detention, arrest, search, and seizure. See Order dated August 20, 2009, Dkt. No. 86. Because
Defendants have demonstrated "an articulable suspicion of criminal activity" with respect to the
treatment of Flores and Parsons, they are not members of Plaintiffs' proposed class as currently
To certify a class under Rule 23, plaintiffs must show they are members of the class. See
Forbush v. J.C. Penney Co., 994 F.2d 1101, 1105 (5th Cir.1993). Accordingly, certifying a class
of which the proposed class representatives are not members, such as Plaintiffs' proposed class,
2. The Court's Modified Class Definition
However, the flaws in Plaintiffs' proposed class definition are not fatal to class
certification of any class based on Defendants' alleged misconduct, only to the specific class
definition proposed by Plaintiffs. "District courts are permitted to limit or modify class
definitions to provide the necessary precision." In re Monumental Life Ins. Co., 365 F.3d 408,
414 (5th Cir. 2004) (citing Robidoux v. Celani, 987 F.2d 931, 937 (2nd Cir.1993) ("A court is
not bound by the class definition proposed in the complaint and should not dismiss the action
simply because the complaint seeks to define the class too broadly"); Harris v. Gen. Dev. Corp.,
127 F.R.D. 655, 659 (N.D. Ill. 1989) ("[I]t is certainly within this court's discretion to limit or
redefine the scope of the class"); Meyer v. Citizens & S. Nat'l Bank, 106 F.R.D. 356, 360 (M.D.
Ga. 1985) ("The Court has discretion in ruling on a motion to certify a class. This discretion
extends to defining the scope of the class.")). The Court, therefore, modifies the class definition
(1) People who are, or appear to be, members of racial or ethnic minority groups and
those in their company, and
(2) Were, or will be, traveling in, through, or near Tenaha at any time after November 1,
(3) Were, or are, subject to being stopped by one or more Defendant for an alleged traffic
Defendants have argued that the inclusion of those who were merely stopped as part of
the interdiction program is overbroad because the stops themselves are not actionable.
Defendants rely heavily on the Supreme Court's decision in Whren v. United States to support
their assertion that the traffic stops at the heart of Plaintiffs' case cannot be discriminatory so
long as the stops were the result of actual traffic violations. See 517 U.S. 806 (1996). In Whren,
the Supreme Court held that the constitutional reasonableness of traffic stops under the Fourth
Amendment does not depend on the actual motivations of the individual officers involved. Id. at
812-13. Based on this principle, the court rejected a claim that a traffic stop violated the Fourth
Amendment's prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures unless a reasonable officer
would have been motivated to stop the car by a desire to enforce the traffic laws. Id. at 813-18.
While the Supreme Court made it clear that the subjective motivations of an officer have no
bearing on the reasonableness of a search under the Fourth Amendment—the only constitutional
claim at issue in Whren—it also clarified that racially motivated traffic stops would run afoul of
the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Id. "The Constitution prohibits
selective enforcement of the law based on considerations such as race." Id. at 813. Thus, under
Whren, targeting racial minorities for enforcement of traffic laws is a violation of the Equal
Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. In other words, the fact that class members
may have committed traffic violations will not absolve the Defendants under the Equal
Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment if the Defendants targeted racial minorities in
enforcing the traffic laws. Accordingly, Whren supports the inclusion of those members of racial
and ethnic minorities stopped as part of the interdiction program because Plaintiffs allege that the
Defendants targeted racial and ethnic minorities for selective enforcement of traffic laws in
violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Defendants also oppose the inclusion in the class of those who may in the future be
subject to the interdiction program. Although those who may be stopped while traveling through
Tenaha at some point in the future are not capable of being specifically identified, this is not a
bar to certification of a Rule 23(b)(2) class. The Advisory Committee Notes for Rule 23(b)(2)
make it clear that specific enumeration of every member of a (b)(2) injunctive class is not
necessary because the illustrative cases for this subdivision "are various action in the civil-rights
field where a party is charged with discriminating unlawfully against a class, usually one whose
members are incapable of specific enumeration." FED. R. CIV. P. 23(b)(2) 1966 Advisory
Committee's Note (emphasis added). Based on this, the district court in In re Cincinnati
Policing certified an injunctive settlement class of "African-American or Black persons and
people perceived as such who reside, work in and/or travel on public thoroughfares in the City of
Cincinnati, Ohio either now or in the future and who are stopped, detained, or arrested by
Cincinnati Police Officers . . ." in a suit against the city of Cincinnati and two of its police
officers alleging racially discriminatory enforcement practices by the city police department.
209 F.R.D. 395, 397-400 (S.D. Oh. 2002).
Accordingly, the Court finds that the proposed Rule 23(b)(2) class, as described in the
Court's modified class definition, is adequately defined and clearly ascertainable.
C. Rule 23 Requirements
Once the class is adequately defined, plaintiffs must show that the proposed class meets
all of the requirements of Rule 23. Under Rule 23(a), the party seeking certification must
(1) the class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable
(2) there are questions of law or fact common to the class [commonality];
(3) the claims or defenses of the representative parties are typical of the claims or
defenses of the class [typicality]; and
(4) the representative parties will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the
FED. R. CIV. P. 23(a); Wal-Mart, 131 S.Ct. at 2548.
Second, the proposed class must satisfy at least one of the three requirements listed in
Rule 23(b). Plaintiffs rely on Rule 23(b)(2), which applies when "the party opposing the class
has acted or refused to act on grounds that apply generally to the class, so that final injunctive
relief or corresponding declaratory relief is appropriate respecting the class as a whole." FED. R.
CIV. P. 23(b)(2).
1. Rule 23(a) Requirements
To satisfy the numerosity requirement, the court must inquire whether the class is so
numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable. See Watson v. Shell Oil Co., 979 F.2d
1014, 1022 (5th Cir. 1992). The plaintiff need not establish the exact number of potential class
members to meet the numerosity requirement. Smith v. Texaco, Inc., 88 F.Supp.2d 663, 674
(E.D. Tex. 2000), vacated on other grounds 281 F.3d 477 (5th Cir. 2002); Newberg on Class
Actions, § 3.5 (4th ed.); Barragan v. Evanger's Dog and Cat Food Co., Inc., 259 F.R.D. 330,
333 (N.D. Ill. 2009) ("a plaintiff does not need to demonstrate the exact number of class
members as long as a conclusion is apparent from good-faith estimates"). To determine whether
the numerosity requirement has been met, the court "must not focus on sheer numbers alone but
must instead focus on whether joinder of all members is practicable in view of the numerosity of
the class and all other relevant factors." Pederson, 213 F.3d at 868 (internal citations omitted).
Other relevant factors include the geographical dispersion of the class, the ease with which class
members may be identified, the nature of the action, and the size of each plaintiff's claim.
Zeidman v. J. Ray McDermott & Co., Inc., 651 F.2d 1030, 1038 (5th Cir. 1981); Smith, 88 F.
Supp. 2d at 674. No definite standard exists as to the size of class that satisfies the numerosity
requirement. Garcia v. Gloor, 609 F.2d 156, 160 (5th Cir. 1980). However, the Fifth Circuit has
held that a class consisting of 100 to 150 members is "within the range that generally satisfies the
numerosity requirement." Mullen v. Treasuer Chest Casino, LLC, 186 F.3d 620, 624 (5th Cir.
1999) (citing 1 Newberg on Class Actions § 3.05, at 3-25 (3d ed.1992) (suggesting that any class
consisting of more than forty members "should raise a presumption that joinder is
impracticable")). In the absence of any definitive pattern for numerosity in terms of the number
of purported class members, the Fifth Circuit has left the numerosity determination to the sound
discretion of the district court in controlling its litigation. Zeidman, 651 F.2d at 1038-39.
Tenaha's Tier 1 racial profiling data indicates that , , between 2007 and 2009, 829 non-
Caucasians were stopped under the interdiction program. Tier 1 Data, Ex. 17 to Opening Brief.
This number is significantly higher than the 100 to 150 range that the Fifth Circuit holds is
within the range that generally satisfies the numerosity requirement. Mullen, 186 F.3d at 624.
Even taking the lower end of the estimated number of class members, numerosity exists.
Defendant Whatley estimated that he stopped upwards of 500 or possibly 1,000 people, and
Washington estimated that he stopped at least 100 people during the relevant time period.3 The
Tier 1 racial profiling data indicates that from 2007 to 2009, anywhere from 22.8 % to 51.9% of
the interdiction stops were of non-Caucasians.4 Applying the lowest possible number of stops
based on Whatley's and Washington's testimony—600—and applying the lowest percentage of
minority stops for the time period—22.8%5—there would still be roughly 136 class members. In
3 Defendants Whatley and Washington were responsible for most of the traffic stops in the interdiction program.
Whatley I Depo at 159:14-21.Whatley testified that the interdiction program involved upwards of 500 or possibly
1,000 people, and Washington testified that he stopped more than 100 people during the interdiction program but
could not say if that number was more or less than 500. See Whatley Depo I at 158:1-8 and 160:3-7; Washington
Depo at 124:21-126:11. However, neither Whately nor Washington could estimate the proportion of non-
Caucasians included in these stops. Washington Depo at 126:12-17; Whatley Depo I at 160:8-17. Additionally, the
City of Tenaha's 30(b)(6) designee on the interdiction program and the number of apparent minorities stopped, City
Marshal Fred Walker, did not know how many people have been stopped as a result of the interdiction program
since July 2006, the ethnicity of the people who were stopped, or the proportion of those stopped who were ethnic
minorities. Walker Depo at 81:20-82:11. Accordingly, the only reliable information regarding the number of racial
and ethnic minorities stopped under the interdiction program is the Tier 1 racial profiling data.
4 The Tier 1 data indicates that 51.9% of those stopped in 2007 were racial and ethnic minorities and 45.7% of those
stopped in 2008 were racial and ethnic minorities. In 2009, after the lawsuit was filed, the percentage of racial and
ethnic minorities stopped dropped to 22.8% of the total stops. Id.
5 This number represents the percentage of racial and ethnic minorities stopped under the interdiction program in
2009, after this lawsuit was filed.
Mullen, the Fifth Circuit upheld a district court's finding of numerosity of a class with
approximately 100-150 members where the district court reasonably inferred that some of the
class members would be geographically dispersed and, thus, that joinder of them would be
impractical. 186 F.3d 620, 624 (5th Cir. 1999). Because the class members are travelers on an
interstate highway, U.S. 59, the class members are likely to be geographically dispersed, further
indicating that joinder is impracticable. For example, six of the ten named plaintiffs—Morrow,
Watson, Busby, Dismukes, Dorman, and Pearson—are from out-of-state. See Third Amended
Complaint, ¶¶ 5-10 (Dkt. No. 111). Therefore, it is abundantly clear that the numerosity
requirement has been met with respect to the class.
The Supreme Court recently clarified the standard for determining whether commonality
exists under Rule 23(a)(2). See Wal-Mart, 131 S.Ct. at 2551-2557.
Commonality requires the plaintiff to demonstrate that the class members have
suffered the same injury. This does not mean that they have all suffered a
violation of the same provision of law. . . . Their claims must depend upon a
common contention—for example, the assertion of discriminatory bias on the part
of the same supervisor. That common contention, moreover, must be of such a
nature that it is capable of classwide resolution—which means that determination
of its truth or falsity will resolve an issue that is central to the validity of each one
of the claims in one stroke.
Id. at 1551 (internal citations and quotations omitted). Accordingly, the commonality analysis
"requires the court to determine (1) whether the class members' claims 'will in fact depend on
the answers to common questions,' and (2) whether classwide proceedings have the capacity to
'generate common answers apt to drive the resolution of the litigation,'" United States v. City of
New York, 2011 WL 2680474, at * 3 (S.D.N.Y. 2011) (quoting Wal-Mart, 131 S.Ct. at 2554 and
2551, respectively) (additional citations and quotations omitted)). Answering these questions
will necessarily overlap somewhat with Plaintiffs' merits contention that Tenaha's interdiction
program constitutes a pattern and practice of discrimination against members, or those who
appear to be members, of a racial or ethnic minority, and their passengers, by targeting these
individuals for illegal stops, detentions, arrests, and/or searches and seizures. See Wal-Mart, 131
S.Ct. at 2552 ("In this case, proof of commonality necessarily overlaps with respondents' merits
contention that Wal-Mart engages in a pattern or practice of discrimination") (original
emphasis). To demonstrate commonality, Plaintiffs must have "significant proof" that Tenaha's
interdiction program operates as a "general policy of discrimination." Id. at 2553.
In Wal-Mart, the Supreme Court reversed certification of a class of former and current
female employees of Wal-Mart who brought a Title VII class action against Wal-Mart alleging
sex discrimination in Wal-Mart's pay and promotion practices. The Supreme Court's decision
rested, in part, on the plaintiffs' failure to satisfy the commonality requirement of Rule 23(a).
The plaintiffs in Wal-Mart did not allege that Wal-Mart had an express corporate policy against
the advancement of women. Instead, the allegation was that the lack of a uniform hiring policy
led to broad discretions on the part of local managers in pay and promotion decisions. Because
the local managers were susceptible to systemic gender biases in the Wal-Mart culture, the local
managers' discretion over pay and promotions was, according to the plaintiffs, exercised
disproportionately in favor of men, leading to an unlawful disparate impact on female
employees. Wal-Mart, 131 S.Ct. at 2548. The Supreme Court rejected the argument that a lack
of a company-wide policy regarding hiring could be considered to be a pattern or practice of
discrimination, at least where plaintiffs provided no substantiation of systematic discrimination
beyond anecdotal evidence and flawed statistical analysis. "In a company of Wal-Mart's size
and geographical scope, it is quite unbelievable that all managers would exercise their discretion
in a common way without some common direction." Id. at 2555. The evidence provided by
Wal-Mart consisted of: (1) the testimony of a sociological expert that Wal-Mart's corporate
culture made it vulnerable to gender bias—although that expert could not say with any certainty
what percentage of Wal-Mart's employment decisions were based on stereotypical thinking; (2)
testimony from another expert that Wal-Mart promotes a lower percentage of women than its
competitors; and (3) anecdotal evidence of allegedly discriminatory employment decisions by
certain individuals at a proportionately small number of Wal-Mart stores. Id. at 2554-56. The
Supreme Court held that this evidence did not rise to the level of significant proof that Wal-Mart
operated under a general policy or practice of discrimination, as required to satisfy the
commonality requirement of Rule 23(a), especially given Wal-Mart's announced policy
forbidding sex discrimination in hiring, pay, and promotion decisions, and that Wal-Mart
imposed penalties for denial of equal employment opportunities. Id. at 2553. "Because
respondents provide no convincing proof of a companywide discriminatory pay and promotion
policy, we have concluded that they have not established the existence of any common
question." Id. at 2556-57.
The facts of this case are quite different from Wal-Mart. Unlike Wal-Mart, this is not a
case where the Plaintiffs are attempting to use anecdotal evidence of discriminatory treatment by
individuals in a few locations as evidence that a nation-wide policy of discrimination is
implemented by the discretionary decisions of thousands of individuals at thousands of locations
all across the country. Plaintiffs allege that there was a specific, city-wide policy in Tenaha of
targeting racial and ethnic minorities for traffic stops and then illegally detaining and/or arresting
them or conducting illegal searches and seizures of their property, i.e. the interdiction program.
Plaintiffs further allege that the interdiction program was conceived and implemented by a small
number of Tenaha police officers and city officials working in concert during a specified time
period. While the statistical evidence presented by Plaintiff is not perfect, it clearly shows that
the proportion of minorities stopped in Tenaha increased dramatically once the interdiction
program was instituted. The increase in the number of minorities stopped under the interdiction
program was so remarkable that it is statistically impossible that it was the result of anything
other than a decision to target racial and ethnic minorities. Additionally, as Wal-Mart
emphasized, "'[c]ivil rights cases against parties charged with unlawful, class-based
discrimination are prime examples' of what (b)(2) is meant to capture." Id. at 2557 (quoting
Amchem Products, Inc. v. Windsor, 521 U.S. 591, 614 (1997)). This is just such a case.
Applying standard announced in Wal-Mart, the commonality is satisfied. Plaintiffs have
offered "significant proof" that Tenaha's interdiction program operates as a "general policy of
discrimination." Wal-Mart, 131 S.Ct. at 2553. First, Plaintiffs have offered statistical evidence
that the number of racial and ethnic minorities stopped in and around Tenaha increased
dramatically when the interdiction program was implemented. From 2003 through 2006, an
average of about 32% of Tenaha's traffic stops were of non-Caucasians. In 2007, however, the
first full year of the interdiction program, the proportion of non-Caucasians increased
dramatically to between 46.8% and 51.9%. The percentage of non-Caucasians stopped in 2008
was 45.7%. Plaintiffs argue that when this difference is statistically analyzed, the probability of
the increase occurring as a matter of random chance approachs zero. Plaintiffs also argue that
the increase remains similarly significant for 2008, where the number of non-Caucasians stopped
was 45.7%. The percentage of non-Caucasians dropped precipitously in 2009 after the
commencement of this lawsuit to 22.8%. Id. The statistical analysis shows the statistical
significance or number of standard deviations, and probability of the increase in proportions of
non-Caucasians stopped in Tenaha after the Defendants began the interdiction program. For
2007, the standard deviation is 10.92 or 10.85, and for 2008, the standard deviation is 6.56. See
Tier 1 data. Plaintiff argues that these numbers indicate that it is highly unlikely that the increase
in the proportion of non-Caucasians stopped once the interdiction program began in late 2006
could occur randomly. See Casteneda v. Partida, 430 U.S. 482, 496 n.17 (1977) ("As a general
rule for such large samples, if the difference between the expected value and the observed
number is greater than two or three standard deviations, then the hypothesis that the jury drawing
was random would be suspect to a social scientist.").
Defendants, however, question the validity of Plaintiffs' statistical analysis and argue that
it is inadequate because it does not compare the general racial and ethinic make-up of all
motorists traveling in, near, or though Tenaha with the racial and ethnic make-up of those who
were stopped as part of the interdiction program. In support of their argument, Defendants point
to the Seventh Circuit's decision in Chaves v. The Illinois State Police, 251 F.3d 612 (7th Cir.
2001). The plaintiffs in Chaves presented evidence that a disproportionate number of African-
Americans and Hispanics were stopped as related to the general ethnic proportions of the State of
Illinois. See id. The Court found that the statistical evidence was lacking because statistics
showing the general ethnic proportions of the State of Illinois did not necessarily reflect the
racial makeup of motorists on Illinois highways. Id. at 645. However, this case is readily
distinguishable from Chaves. Plaintiffs do not argue that the proportion of non-Caucasians
stopped under the interdiction program is statistically significant because it differs from the
proportion of non-Caucasians in the population generally either in the State of Texas or of
travelers on the highway, as in Chaves. Instead, Plaintiffs argue that the proportion of non-
Caucasians to Caucasians stopped under the interdiction program is statistically significant
because it varies so dramatically from the proportion of non-Caucasians to Caucasians stopped in
the same area before the implementation of the interdiction program.
In addition to the statistical analysis, Plaintiffs have provided anecdotal evidence that the
stops of class representatives Morrow, Flores, and Parsons were discriminatory and were based
not on a desire to curb illegal activity, but on racial profiling and Defendants' desire to enrich
themselves and their offices.
Finally, as discussed previously, the Court finds that the failure of Tenaha and the
constable's office to collect, report, and maintain racial profiling information, as required by
Texas law, gives rise to an inference that this failure was the result of an attempt to conceal the
illegal targeting of racial and ethnic minorities for enforcement of the interdiction program.
This, coupled with the adverse inference drawn from the refusal of Defendants Russell and
Green to answer relevant questions based on the Fifth Amendment suggests that Defendants
created an illegal practice of targeting racial and ethnic minorities for pretextual traffic stops as
part of the interdiction program—i.e. that Tenaha's interdiction program operates as a general
policy of discrimination.
Based on this evidence, the Court is convinced that the claims of members of the class all
depend on the answer to the common question of whether Defendants' interdiction program
targeted members of racial and ethnic minorities for selective enforcement of the traffic laws in
violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. See Wal-Mart, 131 S.Ct.
at 2554. The Court is also convinced that a classwide proceeding on this issues will "generate
common answers apt to drive the resolution of the litigation" because the answer to this question
will conclusively establish whether Tenaha's interdiction program is discriminatory and, thus,
whether an injunction putting an end to Tenaha's interdiction program is warranted Id. at 2551.
Accordingly, the Court finds that the commonality requirement is met.
Under the typicality requirement, the named plaintiffs must demonstrate that there is
sufficient "similarity between [their] legal and remedial theories and the legal and remedial
theories of those whom they purport to represent." Lightbourn v. County of El Paso, 118 F.3d
421, 426 (5th Cir. 1997). The threshold for demonstrating typicality is low. Id. Typicality does
not require identity of claims, but only that "the class representative's claims have the same
essential characteristics of those of the putative class. If the claims arise from a similar course of
conduct and share the same legal theory, factual differences will not defeat typicality." James v.
City of Dallas, Tex., 254 F.3d 551, 571 (5th Cir. 2001).
Plaintiffs argue that there is undisputable evidence that proposed class representatives
Morrow, Flores, and Parsons were subjected to discriminatory stops under the interdiction in the
same manner as the members of the proposed class. As a result, Plaintiffs contend that their
claims are typical of those of the proposed class. Plaintiffs also argue that Defendant
Washington's testimony that "that's the way we do it" when asked if his treatment of Morrow
was typical and Walker's testimony that all citizens subject to the interdiction were treated
according to the same rules under the program removes any credible doubt as to typicality. See
Washington Depo at 193:14-24. The Court agrees.
When Defendant Washington was asked if the treatment of named Plaintiff Morrow was
typical of the interdiction program, Washington responded, "That's the way we do it" and
described the incident as a "very good example of pretty good police work." Washington Depo
at 193:14-24. Similarly, Tenaha City Marshal Walker, who was Tenaha's 30(b)(6) designee
regarding the interdiction program, testified that there had been no changes to the interdiction
program and that all citizens were treated according to the same rules under the program.
Walker Depo at 45:20-24 and 85:8-12. Although each stop under the interdiction program may
have a slightly different factual situation, the evidence indicates that the rules of the interdiction
program and the general treatment of individuals stopped as a result of the interdiction program
are the same for each stop, including the stops of the proposed class representatives Morrow,
Flores, and Parsons. Accordingly, the claims of Morrow, Flores, and Parsons are typical of the
claims of the class. Additionally, as discussed above, the Court has drawn an adverse inference
on the issue of typicality from the refusal of Defendants Russell and Green to answer questions
at their depositions on the issue of typicality. The Court, therefore, finds that the typicality
requirement is met.
d) Adequacy of Representation
Rule 23(a)(4) requires that the representative parties "fairly and adequately protect the
interests of the class." FED. R. CIV. P. 23(a)(4). To this end, the adequacy of class representation
required under Rule 23(a)(4) mandates an inquiry not only into (1) the "zeal and competence of
the representatives' counsel," but also into (2) "the willingness and ability of the
representative[s] to take an active role in and control the litigation and to protect the interests of
absentees." Berger v. Compaq Computer Corp., 257 F.3d 475, 481 (5th Cir. 2001).
Defendants do not challenge the competence of the proposed class counsel—Stephanie
Stephens, David Guillory, and Timothy Garrigan. However, Defendants do argue that
appointing three lawyers as co-lead counsel could result in duplication of effort and, thus, would
not be in the best interest of the class. The Court is not persuaded by Defendants' argument.
The Court has carefully reviewed the evidence of proposed class counsel's training, skill, and
experience and finds that each of them is competent to serve as class counsel.
The Court now turns to the second consideration regarding adequacy: the willingness
and ability of the representatives to take an active role in and control the litigation and to protect
the interests of absentees. Plaintiffs argue that the interests of the proposed class
representatives—Morrow, Flores, and Parsons—are identical to those of the proposed class and
that there are no conflicts between the class representatives' interests and the interests of the
class members. Plaintiffs point out that differences between the proposed representatives and the
class do not defeat adequacy unless they rise to the level of conflicts of interest. See Mullen, 186
F.3d at 625-26 ("Differences between named plaintiffs and class members render the named
plaintiffs inadequate representatives only if those differences create conflicts between the named
plaintiffs' interests and the class members' interests"). Additionally, Plaintiffs argue that each of
the proposed class representatives has presented a declaration reflecting his support of class
certification, his willingness to serve as class representatives, pledging to place the interests of
the class above his own, and pledging to cooperate in the prosecution of this case. See
Declarations of Morrow, Flores, and Parsons, Exhibit 19 to Opening Brief.
Defendants, however, argue that the proposed class representatives will not adequately
represent the interests of the parties because they (1) seek to represent a class of persons that
apparently do not desire to be a part of this litigation, and (2) seek compensatory and punitive
damages on behalf of the class. Defendants argue that seven of the named class members no
longer appear to be cooperating in the litigation of the suit. According to Defendants, this
suggests that many of the potential class members will also not wish to pursue any claims against
Defendants or participate as members of the class. Defendants contend that this creates a
conflict of interest with respect to the potential class members because only Morrow, Flores, and
Parsons wish to pursue a claim against Defendants. The Court disagrees. At best, Defendants
have provided evidence that some of the original class representatives no longer wish to act as
class representatives. Defendants have, however, provided no evidence that these individuals no
longer wish to have their claims against Defendants litigated by the remaining class
representatives as a class action. Even if Defendants' allegations that several of the original class
representatives no longer wish to be class representatives are true, the fact that others are
unwilling or unable to act as class representatives has no bearing on the ability or willingness of
Morrow, Flores, and Parsons to act as class representatives.
Defendants also argue that the proposed class representatives are inadequate because they
are walking a fine line by seeking compensatory and punitive damages. Defendants argue that,
on the one hand, seeking monetary relief jeopardizes class certification as a Rule 23(b)(2) class.
However, if only injunctive relief is sought, the proposed representatives may subject the class
members' potential claims to res judicata, and thus create a conflict between their interests and
those of the putative class members. The Court is also unpersuaded by this argument. Plaintiffs'
request for compensatory and punitive damages reflects their desire to obtain as much relief on
behalf of the class as they are legally entitled to and does not affect their adequacy as class
representatives or create a conflict of interest. Later in this Order, the Court will more fully
address the issue of whether class members' claims for individual damages would be barred by
collateral estoppel or res judicata should the Court chose to certify only an injunctive class.
However, this issue is more appropriately handled in determining whether to certify the class as a
(b)(2) class for injunctive relief or a (b)(3) class for damages and does not affect the adequacy of
the class representatives.
In conclusion, the differences that Defendants focus on are not the kind of differences
that create a conflict of interests between the proposed class representatives and the members of
the class because any differences in the specific factual circumstances giving rise to the claims of
the proposed class representatives and the members of the class do not affect the alignment of the
class representatives' interests with the interest of the class. See Mullen, 186 F.3d at 625-26
(upholding district court's finding of adequacy of representation when the differences in the
claims of the class representatives and the potential class members did not affect the alignment
of their interests). Accordingly, the Court finds that the proposed class representatives will
adequately represent the interests of the entire class.
1. Rule 23(b)(2)
Because Plaintiffs are moving for class certification under Rule 23(b)(2), they must also
demonstrate "that the party opposing the class has acted or refused to act on grounds generally
applicable to the class, thereby making appropriate final injunctive relief or corresponding
declaratory relief with respect to the class as a whole." FED. R. CIV. P. 23(b)(2). Rule 23(b)(2)
permits class certification of claims seeking injunctive or declaratory relief, and these types of
proposed classes need not withstand the Court's independent probe into the superiority of a class
action over other available methods of adjudication—i.e., questions of manageability and judicial
economy—or the degree to which common issues predominate over those affecting only
individual class members. Allison v. Citgo Petroleum Corp., 151 F.3d 402, 414 (5th Cir. 1998);
Forbush, 994, F.2d at 1105. The key to the (b)(2) class is "the indivisible nature of the
injunctive or declaratory remedy warranted—the notion that the conduct is such that it can be
enjoined or declared unlawful only as to all of the class members or as to none of them." Wal-
Mart, 131 S.Ct. at 2557 (quoting Nagareda, 84 N.Y.U.L.Rev., at 132). Accordingly, certification
of a Rule 23(b)(2) class is appropriate "only when a single injunction or declaratory judgment
would provide relief as to each member of the class." Wal-Mart, 131 S.Ct. at 2557. Looking at
the history of Rule 23(b)(2), the Wal-Mart Court acknowledged that "'[c]ivil rights cases against
parties charged with unlawful, class-based discrimination are prime examples' of what (b)(2) is
meant to capture." Id. at 2557 (quoting Amchem Products, Inc. v. Windsor, 521 U.S. 815, 614
(1997)). Such is the case here.
Here, Plaintiffs allege that Defendants developed an illegal practice that targeted racial
minorities for pretextual traffic stops in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the
Fourteenth Amendment—i.e. the interdiction program. When a plaintiff alleges that a defendant
is engaged in a "pattern or practice" of behavior, in order to meet the requirements of Rule
23(b)(2), the pattern or practice must "consist of a uniform policy allegedly applied against the
plaintiffs, not simply diverse actions in various circumstances." Bolin, 231 F.3d at 975 (citing
Charles Alan Wright, Arthur R. Miller & Mary Kay Kane, Federal Practice & Procedure § 1775
at 448 & n.3 (2nd ed. 1986)). Certification is improper if the merits of the claim turn on the
defendant's individual dealings with each plaintiff. Id. Plaintiffs have alleged and provided
evidence that the interdiction program was uniformly applied and that all citizens affected by the
interdiction program were subject to the same rules and procedures. See Washington Depo at
193:14-24; Walker Depo at 45:20-24 and 85:8-12. Plaintiffs have also provided evidence that
the proportion of racial and ethnic minorities stopped increased dramatically when the
interdiction program began and that this increase is statistically significant. See Tier 1 Data.
Accordingly, the issue to be litigated is whether the interdiction program illegally targeted racial
and ethnic minorities for traffic stops, not the individual factual circumstances surrounding each
stop. Where plaintiffs allege that the police have engaged in a presumptively invalid procedure,
class certification "is appropriate since the liability which the plaintiffs seek to establish is based
on the operation itself rather than on the circumstances surrounding each individual stop or
arrest." Wilson v. Tinicum Township; 1993 WL 280205, at *8 (E.D. Pa. 1993). In Wilson, the
court certified an injunctive class seeking to enjoin the township from continuing to practice its
alleged policy of violating the civil rights of individuals by targeting African Americans travelers
on I-95 for stops based on pretextual traffic violations and with the intent of searching their
vehicles for drugs without probable cause or reasonable suspicion. Id. at *1-7.
Additionally, Rule 23(b)(2) certification is "especially appropriate where a plaintiff seeks
injunctive relief against discriminatory practices by a defendant." Daniels, 198 F.R.D. at 414
(citing Weiss v. York Hosp., 745 F.2d 786, 811 (3rd Cir. 1984)); see also Marisol A. By Forbes v.
Giuliani, 929 F. Supp. 662, 692 (S.D.N.Y. 1996) ("Rule 23(b)(2) is designed to assist and is
most commonly relied upon by litigants seeking institutional reform in the form of injunctive
relief."), aff'd, 126 F.3d 372 (2nd Cir. 1997). In fact, the 1966 Notes to Rule 23(b)(2) lists civil
rights actions "where a party is charged with discriminating unlawfully against a class, usually
one whose members are incapable of specific enumeration" as examples of appropriate Rule
23(b)(2) actions. FED. R. CIV. P. 23(b)(2) 1966 Advisory Committee's Note. The Supreme
Court has also recognized that civil rights cases, like this one, "alleging racial or ethnic
discrimination are often by their nature class suits, involving classwide wrongs" and common
questions of law or fact are typically present. East Texas Motor Freight Systems, Inc. v.
Rodriguez, 431 U.S. 395, 405 (1977). However, careful attention to the requirements of Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 23 remain, nonetheless, indispensable. Id.
The proposed class, as defined by the Court, alleges classwide racial and ethnic
discrimination—i.e. that Defendants' interdiction program unlawfully targeted members of racial
and ethnic minorities for stops in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth
Amendment—and is, thus, precisely the type of class for which Rule 23(b)(2) was created.
Accordingly, the Court finds that certification of a (b)(2) class for injunctive and declaratory
relief is appropriate.
a) Class Claims for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief
Plaintiffs request declaratory relief recognizing that
(1) the Defendants' practice of targeting apparent members of racial or ethnic
minority groups for traffic stops, detentions, arrests, searches, and seizures
violates the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment; and
(2) the Defendants' practice of conducting traffic stops, detentions, arrests,
searches, and seizures without legal justification violates the prohibition against
unreasonable searches and seizures in the Fourth Amendment, and that resulting
forfeitures violate the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Plaintiffs also request the following injunctive relief:
(1) a permanent prohibition against the Defendants' practices found to be
(2) a requirement that these Defendants utilize best practices in conducting any
traffic stops, roadside detentions, searches, and seizures that, at a minimum,
includes use of video equipment with re-event recording, or comparable features,
so that the legal justification for any traffic stop, detention, warrantless arrest,
search and/or seizure is accurately recorded, by video and audio, and meaningful
monitoring of all such recordings for constitutional compliance.
The proposed class, as modified by the Court, is only concerned with whether the Defendants
targeted racial and ethnic minorities for pretextual traffic stops in violation of the Equal
Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and not with whether any subsequent
detentions, arrests, searches, or seizures violated the Fourth Amendment as applied to the states
through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Accordingly, the specific
declaratory and injunctive relief proposed by Plaintiffs is inappropriate to the extent it seeks a
declaration or injunction concerning detentions, arrests, searches, or seizures by Defendants.
This is not to say that any declaratory or injunctive relief is inappropriate on a classwide basis.
To the contrary, it only suggests that any declaratory and/or injunctive relief must address
Defendants' alleged practice of targeting members of racial and ethnic minorities for selective
enforcement of traffic laws under the interdiction program. As one example, if Plaintiffs prevail
on the merits of their case, they would be entitled to a declaration that Defendants' practice of
targeting apparent members of racial or ethnic minority groups for pretextual traffic stops
violates the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Similarly, they would also be
entitled to an injunction putting an end to the interdiction program in Tenaha and prohibiting the
Defendants from targeting racial and ethnic minorities for the selective enforcement of traffic
Defendants, however, argue that Plaintiffs proposed injunctive relief is not specific
enough. Every order granting an injunction must be specific in its terms and must describe in
reasonable detail the act or acts that are enjoined. FED. R. CIV. P. 65(d); see also Alabama
Nursing Home Assoc. v. Harris, 617 F.2d 385, 387 (5th Cir. 1980). "This requirement of
specificity and reasonable detail, based in part on notions of basic fairness, ensures that
individuals against whom an injunction is directed receive explicit notice of the precise conduct
that is outlawed." Alabama Nursing Home Assoc., 617 F.2d. at 387-88. Citing Alabama
Nursing Home Assoc., the Fifth Circuit has stated that the injunctive relief sought under Rule
23(b)(2) must be specific. Maldanado v. Ochsner Clinic Foundation, 493 F.3d 521, 524 (5th
Cir. 2007). The real issue, however, is not whether Plaintiffs have precisely defined the
requested injunction at the class certification state, but whether the class is "sufficiently cohesive
that classwide injunctive relief can satisfy the limitations of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
65(d)—namely, the requirement that it 'state its terms specifically; and describe in reasonable
detail . . . the act or acts restrained or required.'" Shook v. Board of County Commissioners of
County of El Paso, 543 F.3d 597, 604 (10th Cir. 2008) (quoting FED. R. CIV. P. 65(d)). Plaintiffs
are not required to set forth the requested injunction in the pleadings with the specificity required
by Rule 65. Monreal v. Potter, 367 F.3d 1224, 1236 n.11 (10th Cir. 2004). Plaintiffs have set
forth facts suggesting that Defendants' behavior was generally applicable to the class as a whole,
making injunctive relief appropriate. The precise terms of the injunction need not be decided at
this stage, only that the allegations are such that injunctive and declaratory relief are appropriate
and that the class is sufficiently cohesive that an injunction can be crafted that meets the
specificity requirements of Rule 65(d).
In Maldanado, the Fifth Circuit rejected certification of a Rule 23(b)(2) class for
injunctive relief because the inability of the plaintiff to specify what injunctive relief was sought
highlighted the fact that individualize issues overwhelmed class cohesiveness. 493 F.3d at 524.
The plaintiffs in Maldanado were uninsured patients who received medical care from a nonprofit
hospital and where then billed for their medical services at rates higher than were those
patients with health insurance. Id. at 523. The plaintiffs sought an injunction requiring, in part,
that the hospital provide them with "mutually affordable health care." Id. at 524. In denying
class certification, the Fifth Circuit pointed out that the plaintiffs had failed to identify any way
to determine what a reasonable or "mutually affordable" rate was for the wide variety of medical
services offered by the health provider. Id. "The amount patients were charged and the amount
that is 'reasonable' for the services they received is necessarily an individual inquiry that will
depend on the specific circumstances of each class member, the time fame in which care was
provided, and both [the defendant's] and other hospitals' costs at that time." Id. Unlike the
proposed injunction rejected by the Fifth Circuit in Maldanado, an injunction in this case would
not require an individualized assessment of the injunctive relief afforded to each class member.
Instead, the injunction would focus on ending Tenaha's allegedly discriminatory interdiction
program and putting safeguards in place to monitor future stops to make racial profiling less
Additionally, Defendants argue that prospective injunctive relief is not appropriate in this
case because Tenaha's interdiction program no longer exists. Defendants point to the deposition
testimony of Shelby County's designee, Shelby County Judge Rick Campbell, that Defendant
Washington is no longer the Constable of Precinct 4 and that Shelby County no longer operates
an interdiction program. See Campbell Depo I at 22:14-17; Campbell Depo II at 23:2-17. Mr.
Campbell testified that the Shelby County sheriff's office and Precinct 4 have not had an
interdiction program since January of 2009. Campbell Depo II at 21:12-17. Although his
testimony is somewhat contradictory, Mr. Campbell also indicated that the Shelby County
Sherriff's Office does not even do traffic enforcement and does not issue traffic citations. Id. at
21:12-23:11. Accordingly, Defendants argue that the members of the class are not subject to any
future harm that can be remedied by an injunction. Plaintiffs, however, cite to the deposition
testimony of the City of Tenaha's designee, Fred Walker, which was adopted by Shelby County,
that the interdiction program was still in place and that no changes had been made to it as of
April 21, 2010. Walker Depo at 45:17-24.
Although not labeled as such, Defendants' argument is a mootness argument. According
to Defendants, if Tenaha no longer has the allegedly unconstitutional interdiction program, then
an action seeking only an injunction to stop the program and a declaration that the program is
unconstitutional is moot. However, the fact that Tenaha voluntarily stopped its allegedly
unconstitutional interdiction program does not necessarily render classwide injunctive relief
moot. A long line of Supreme Court cases stands for the proposition that the "voluntary
cessation of allegedly illegal conduct does not deprive the tribunal of power to hear and
determine the case, i.e., does not make the case moot." United States v. W. T. Grant Co., 345
U.S. 629, 632 (1953); United States v. Trans-Missouri Freight Assn., 166 U.S. 290, 308-310
(1897); Walling v. Helmerich & Payne, Inc., 323 U.S. 37, 43 (1944); Gray v. Sanders, 372 U.S.
368, 376 (1963); United States v. Phosphate Export Assn., 393 U.S. 199, 202-203 (1968). In
such circumstances, a dispute over the legality of the practices at issue remains to be settled by
the court. W.T. Grant Co., 345 U.S. at 632. The fact that "the defendant is free to return to his
old ways" taken together with the "public interest in having the legality of the practices settled,
militates against a mootness conclusion." Id. "It is the duty of the courts to beware of efforts to
defeat injunctive relief by protestations of repentance and reform, especially when abandonment
seems timed to anticipate suit, and there is probability of resumption." United States v. Oregon
State Medical Society, 343 U.S. 326, 333 (1952). The case may, in fact, be found moot if the
defendant can demonstrate that "there is no reasonable expectation that the wrong will be
repeated." T. W. Grant Co., 345 U.S. at 633 (quotation and citation omitted). The burden is a
"heavy one," and is not satisfied where, as here, the defendants simply claim that the challenged
policy no longer exists and they have no intention of reviving it. Id.; see also Hall v. Bd. of Sch.
Comm'rs of Conecuh County, 656 F.2d 999, 1001 (5th Cir. 1981) ("To defeat jurisdiction . . .,
defendants must offer more than their mere profession that the conduct has ceased and will not
be revived.").6 Similarly, Defendants' claim that Defendants Washington and Green are no
longer employed by the City of Tenaha or Shelby County is not enough to satisfy Defendants'
6 The Eleventh Circuit has held that "[w]hen the defendant is not a private citizen but a government actor, there is a
rebuttable presumption that the objectionable behavior will not recur." Troiana v. Supervisor of Elections in Palm
Beach County, Fla., 382 F.3d 1276, 1283 (11th Cir. 2004). However, the Fifth Circuit has not adopted this
position. In fact, in Hall v. Board of School Commissioners of Conecuh County, the Fifth Circuit applied the
standard articulated in W.T. Grant Co. to determine whether the voluntary cessation of a school policy allowing
students to conduct morning devotionals over the school's public address system mooted a constitutional challenge
to the policy. 656 F.2d 999, 1000-01 (5th Cir. 1981). In reaching its decision, the Fifth Circuit never indicated that
the school board, as a governmental body made up of public officials, was entitled to a rebuttable presumption that
the objectionable policy would not recur based on the superintendent's statement that the challenged policy had been
heavy burden of proving that there is no reasonable expectation that the City of Tenaha or Shelby
County will reinstate the allegedly discriminatory interdiction program. In Hall v. Board of
School Commissioners of Conecuh County, the Fifth Circuit found that a suit challenging the
constitutionality of a high school's policy of allowing students to give morning devotionals over
the school's public address system was not mooted by the school's voluntary decision to
discontinue the morning devotionals. 656 F.2d 999, 1000-01 (5th Cir. 1981). In reaching this
decision, the court considered the fact that the school board abandoned the policy only after the
filing of the lawsuit, and found that "the plaintiffs were entitled to injunctive relief that would be
binding upon the [school system], regardless of changes in personnel." Id. at 1001 (emphasis
Overruling Defendants' mootness argument, however, does not answer the question of
whether classwide injunctive relief is appropriate. See W.T. Grant Co., 345 U.S. at 633; United
States v. Concentrated Phosphate Export Ass'n, 393 U.S. 199, 203-04 (1968) (concluding that
the case was not moot but noting that the district court was not obligated to grant equitable relief
on remand: "Of course it is still open to appellees to show, on remand, that the likelihood of
further violations is sufficiently remote to make injunctive relief unnecessary. This is a matter for
the trial judge.") (citation omitted); Sheely v. MRI Radiology Network, P.A., 505 F.3d 1173, 1182
n.10 (11th Cir. 2007) (holding that the case was not moot under the doctrine of voluntary
cessation, but remanding for trial court to determine whether injunctive relief was appropriate).
The analysis of whether a case is moot overlaps with the analysis of whether a permanent
injunction is appropriate on the merits because both are concerned with the likelihood of future
unlawful conduct. Sheely, 505 F.3d at 1182 n. 10. However, the two inquiries are not the same.
Whether a permanent injunction is appropriate turns on whether the plaintiff can establish by a
preponderance of the evidence that injunctive relief is necessary. Id. (citing W.T. Grant Co., 345
U.S. at 633).
Along with its power to hear the case, the court's power to grant injunctive relief
survives discontinuance of the illegal conduct. The purpose of an injunction is to
prevent future violations . . . The necessary determination is that there exists
some cognizable danger of recurrent violation, something more than the mere
possibility which serves to keep the case alive. . . . To be considered are the bona
fides of the expressed intent to comply, the effectiveness of the discontinuance
and, in some cases, the character of the past violations.
The evidence is contradictory as to whether the City of Tenaha has, in fact, terminated
the interdiction program. Walker, the City of Tenaha's designee, testified that as of the date of
his deposition, April 21, 2010, there had been no changes made to the interdiction program and it
was still ongoing. Walker Depo at 45:17-24. However, Shelby County offered testimony from
its designee, County Judge Rick Campbell, that the sheriff's office has not done interdiction
since January 2009. Campbell Depo II at 21:12-20. Additionally, the parties have not pointed
to, and the Court has not found, any evidence in the record that the City of Tenaha, Shelby
County, or any of the Defendants, have stated that they have no plans to reinstate the interdiction
program at some point in the future. All of this, coupled with the egregious allegations that
public officials conspired to violate routinely the civil rights of the traveling public, demonstrates
to the Court that there exists some cognizable danger of recurrent violation such that injunctive
relief is appropriate.
Defendants also argue that even if the interdiction program is still in place, Plaintiffs are
not entitled to an injunction because there is no evidence that most of the class members will
ever travel through Tenaha in the future and, thus, be subject to the interdiction program. "Rule
23(b)(2) certification is . . . inappropriate when the majority of the class does not face future
harm." Maldonado, 493 F.3d at 525 (citing Bolin v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 231 F.3d 970, 978
(5th Cir. 2000)); see also In re Monumental Life, 365 F.3d 408, 416 (5th Cir. 2004) ("Of course,
certification under rule 23(b)(2) is appropriate only if members of the proposed class would
benefit from the injunctive relief they request."). In Wal-Mart, the Supreme Court noted that
"the validity of a (b)(2) class depends on whether 'final injunctive relief or corresponding
declaratory relief is appropriate respecting the class as a whole.'" Wal-Mart, 131 S.Ct. at 2560
(quoting FED. R. CIV. P. 23(b)(2))) (emphasis original to Wal-Mart). Additionally, declaratory
relief is improper if it only serves to "facilitate the award of damages." Id. In Bolin, the Fifth
Circuit held that the district court abused its discretion by certifying a Rule 23(b)(2) class
composed of bankruptcy debtors who alleged that the defendant had employed various unlawful
practices to coerce payment of otherwise-discharged pre-bankruptcy debt. Bolin, 231 F.3d at
978-79. The court held that most of the class members did not face any future harm from the
store's collection efforts, so they would have nothing to gain from an injunction. Id. Because
only a negligible proportion of proposed class members were properly seeking injunctive relief,
the Fifth Circuit held that rule 23(b)(2) certification was inappropriate. Id. at 978. In addition,
the court found that the declaratory relief sought only served to "facilitate the damages award,"
and, thus, that monetary damages predominated over the injunctive and declaratory relief sought.
In Monumental Life, plaintiffs challenged defendants' practice of charging higher life
insurance premiums to African-Americans. 365 F.3d at 411. Many class members no longer
had insurance policies with the defendants, and the exact number of class members who would
benefit from an injunction was unknown. Id. at 416. Defense and plaintiff experts' estimates
ranged from eighteen to eighty percent. Given these estimates, the Fifth Circuit found that "the
proportion is sufficient, absent contrary evidence from defendants, that the class as a whole is
deemed properly to be seeking injunctive relief." Id. In other words, absent additional evidence,
the plaintiffs had sufficiently demonstrated that "most" of the class would likely benefit from
injunctive relief. Id. However, in Casa Orlando Apartments, Ltd. v. Federal Nat. Mortg. Ass'n,
the Fifth Circuit found that Rule 23(b)(2) certification was not appropriate when only 40 percent
of the proposed class members would benefit from the injunction because they were subject to
ongoing harm. 624 F.3d 185, 200 (5th Cir. 2010).
Plaintiffs have provided declarations from class representatives Morrow, Parsons, and
Flores stating that they currently avoid traveling through Tenaha and take longer, alternative
routes through East Texas. See 10/27/10 Declaration of James Morrow ("Morrow Decl."),
Exhibit 2 to Second Supplemental Motion for Class Certification ("Second Supplemental
Motion") (Dkt. No. 213); October 2, 2010 Declaration of William Parsons ("Parsons Decl."),
Exhibit 3 to Second Supplemental Motion; October 2, 2010 Declaration of Javier Flores ("Flores
Decl."), Exhibit 4 to Second Supplemental Motion. Additionally, each of the class
representatives stated that they expected to need to travel through or near Tenaha in the future.
See Morrow Dec.; Parsons Dec.; Flores Dec. Plaintiffs argue that this is enough to demonstrate a
risk of future harm to the class necessitating injunctive relief. Although none of the parties have
provided evidence to suggest what percentage of class members intend to travel in or around
Tenaha in the future, the Court is persuaded, given the nature of the allegations, that other class
members would react to the alleged treatment in a manner similar to the way in which Morrow,
Parsons, Flores reacted. In other words, the Court is convinced that other class members may
avoid driving through Tenaha because of their fear of being illegally targeted for stops under the
interdiction program. Should the evidence developed in the case indicate that Court is incorrect
and that certain members of the proposed class have no intention or desire to travel through
Tenaha in the future, the Court may adjust the class definition to include only those who will be
subject to being unconstitutionally targeted for traffic stops in the future. Additionally, because
the Court is certifying only a class for injunctive and declaratory relief and not a class for
damages, the requested declaratory relief—that the interdiction program illegally targets racial
minorities for pretextual traffic stops—would serve as a basis for the requested injunctive relief,
not merely as a means to facilitate the award of damages.
Accordingly, the Court finds that classwide declaratory and injunctive relief is
appropriate for the class as defined by the Court.
1. Class Claims for Monetary Relief
Plaintiffs seek monetary relief in addition to declaratory and injunctive relieve. In Wal-
Mart, the Supreme Court held that claims for monetary relief may not be certified under Rule
23(b)(2), "at least where (as here) the monetary relief is not incidental to the injunctive or
declaratory relief." 131 S.Ct. at 2557. The Wal–Mart Court compared Rule 23(b)(2) to (b)(3),
concluding that the combination of individualized monetary relief and classwide injunctive or
declaratory relief in a (b)(2) class is "inconsistent with the structure of Rule 23(b)." Wal–Mart,
131 S.Ct. at 2558. The Court reasoned that a class certified under (b)(2) has "the most traditional
justification[ ] for class treatment" because "the relief sought must perforce affect the entire class
at once." Id. In noting the distinctions between a (b)(2) class and a (b)(3) class, the Court
pointed out that (b)(2) class members are not provided with an opportunity to opt-out of the class
and may not even be provided notice of the action. Id. A class certified under (b)(3), by
contrast, "allows class certification in a much wider set of circumstances [than a (b)(3) class] but
with greater procedural protections," including notice and opt-out provisions for those potential
class members who wish to have their claims heard on an individual basis. Id.; see also
Amchem, 521 U.S. at 615 ("Framed for situations in which class-action treatment is not as clearly
called for as it is in Rule 23(b)(1) and (b)(2) situations, Rule 23(b)(3) permits certification where
class suit may nevertheless be convenient and desirable") (internal quotations and citation
omitted). Thus, Wal–Mart held "that individualized monetary claims belong in Rule 23(b)(3)."
Wal-Mart. 131 S.Ct. at 2558.
In reaching this decision, the Supreme Court overruled, at least in part, Fifth Circuit
precedent that claims for monetary relief are permissible in a (b)(2) class so long as injunctive or
declaratory relief is the predominant relief sought. In Allison v. Citgo Petroleum Corp., the Fifth
Circuit reiterated that "[it], like nearly every other circuit, [has] adopted the position taken by the
advisory committee that monetary relief may be obtained in a (b)(2) class action so long as the
predominant relief sought is injunctive or declaratory." 151 F.3d at 411. Allison also held that
"monetary relief predominates in (b)(2) class actions unless it is incidental to requested
injunctive or declaratory relief." Id. at 415. The Fifth Circuit defined "incidental" monetary
damages as those "damages that flow directly from liability to the class as a whole on the claims
forming the basis of the injunctive or declaratory relief." Id. Such "incidental" damages should
at least be capable of computation by means of objective standards and not dependent in any
significant way on intangible, subjective differences of each class member's circumstances. Id.
Finally, the Fifth Circuit reasoned that liability for incidental damages should not require
additional hearings to resolve the disparate merits of each individual's case. Id. The Wal-Mart
Court expressly rejected the general statement that monetary damages are recoverable in a (b)(2)
class so long as they did not predominate over the injunctive or declaratory relief:
The mere "predominance" of a proper (b)(2) injunctive claim does nothing to
justify elimination of Rule 23(b)(3)'s procedural protections . . . We fail to see
why the Rule should be read to nullify these protections whenever a plaintiff
class, at its option, combines its monetary claims with a request—even a
"predominant" request'—for an injunction.
131 S.Ct. at 2559. However, in reaching this ruling, the Supreme Court left open the more
specific question of whether damages that are merely "incidental" to the injunctive or declaratory
relief can be awarded to a 23(b)(2) class as outlined in the Fifth Circuit's decision in Allison. Id.
at 2560 ("we need not decide in this case whether there are any forms of 'incidental' monetary
relief that are consistent with the interpretation of Rule 23(b)(2) we have announced and that
comply with the Due Process Clause").
The Court need not resolve this open question to reach its decision with respect to
Plaintiffs' claims for moneatary relief because these claims cannot satisfy the Allison standard.
Thus, even if "incidental" monetary relief, as defined in Allision, is recoverable in a Rule
23(b)(2) class under Wal-Mart, Plaintiffs' request for equitable restitution as well as
compensatory and punitive damages is not. Plaintiffs' claims for compensatory and punitive
damages would require an individualized, factual determination for each claim and would
predominate over the injunctive relief under Allison. Thus, Plaintiffs claims for compensatory
and punitive damages are not appropriate for Rule 23(b)(2) certification. Additionally, although
the Fifth Circuit has held that equitable monetary relief may be compatible with a Rule 23(b)(2)
class, Plaintiffs' request for equitable restitution is not tied to the limited (b)(2) class that the
Court has defined. See Monumental, 365 F.3d at 418 (holding that equitable restitution was
appropriate for for (b)(2) class under Allison). For example, Plaintiffs request that the Court
order that Defendants return any and all seized property and money and reimburse class
members for their readily determinable and foreseeable expenses directly flowing from the
Defendants' unconstitutional practices, including lawyers' fees, bail expenses, towing and
storage fees, and appropriate interest. In general, however, these equitable damages relate to
Plaintiffs' claims that the detentions, arrests, searches, and seizures under the interdiction
program violated the Fourth Amendment's prohibition of unreasonable searches and seizures as
applied to the states through the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Because the
Court holds that class certification is not appropriate on these grounds, the equitable damages
related to these claims are also inappropriate.
III. Res Judicata and Claims for Individual Damages
The briefing of the parties raised the issue of whether certifying a class for injunctive and
not monetary relief would effectively destroy any claims for monetary relief held by individual
class members. In Zachary v. Texaco Exploration and Production, Inc, the Western District of
Texas found that the adequacy requirement had not been met when the class representatives
dropped their claims for compensatory and punitive damages. 185 F.R.D. 230, 243-44 (W.D.
Tex. 1999). Because class members in a (b)(2) class do not have the ability to opt out of the
class, the Court found that dropping the punitive damages claims created the possibility that class
members would be barred from bringing indi, vi, dual actions for damages based on intentional
discrimination. Id. Thus, the Court found that the potential class representatives were asking the
class members to risk waiving their right to monetary damages solely so the action could proceed
as a class action. Id. at 244. "The Court is unwilling to risk this result. The decision by the
named Plaintiffs to drop the monetary damages claim cannot be imposed upon the absent class
members without raising a very serious conflict of interest." Id. The concerns of the court in
Zachary as to the adequacy of the class representatives are not relevant to this case. However,
Zachary does raise the issue of whether the claims of individual class members for monetary
damages may be extinguished if the Court certifies only an injunctive class.
Because the Court has not certified a class for claims regarding detentions, arrests,
searches, and seizures under the interdiction program, any individual claims for monetary relief
on these grounds will not be foreclosed by the certification of the modified class. However, the
tolling of the statute of limitations on those claims will end as of the date of this order. See
Zachary, 185 F.R.D. at 242 (holding that the period of time between commencement of the
proposed class action and the denial is tolled for all putative class members on any subsequent
individual lawsuits they may wish to bring) (citing American Pipe & Constr. Co. v. Utah, 414
U.S. 538, 552-53 (1975)).7
The remaining question, then, is whether res judicata would bar any individual claims for
monetary damages based on the individual circumstances of a racially motivated stop of a class
member. The Court is persuaded that it would not. The issue to be tried in this case is whether
Defendants are engaged in a pattern or practice of targeting racial and ethnic minorities for
selective enforcement of traffic laws in violation of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth
Amendment. The ruling on this issue should not foreclose an individual lawsuit for damages
based on the individual circumstances of a particular stop. Where plaintiffs allege that the police
have engaged in a presumptively invalid procedure, class certification "is appropriate since the
liability which the plaintiffs seek to establish is based on the operation itself rather than on the
circumstances surrounding each individual stop or arrest." Wilson v. Tinicum Township; 1993
WL 280205, at *8 (E.D. Pa. 1993). In Wilson, the plaintiffs alleged that minorities were targeted
for pretextual highway stops so that searches could be requested. Id. at * 1. The court certified
an injunctive class seeking to enjoin the township from continuing to practice its alleged policy
of violating the civil rights of individuals by targeting African Americans travelers on I-95 for
7 The Fifth Circuit has limited this decision with a "no piggyback rule" which restricts the tolling to subsequent
individual lawsuits and not further class actions. See Salazar-Calderon v. Presidio Valley Farmers Assoc., 765 F.2d
1334, 1351 (5th Cir. 1985).
stops based on pretextual traffic violations and with the intent of searching their vehicles for
drugs without probable cause or reasonable suspicion. Id. at *1-7. Similarly, in an action by
African-American homeowners who alleged that the city demolished repairable single-family
homes in predominately minority neighborhoods without proper notice or judicial warrant, the
Fifth Circuit held that the monetary costs that ran against the city for removing liens and clearing
the title from the consequences of the allegedly constitutionally deficient no-notice demolition
were proper under Rule 23(b)(2) because they flowed directly from the liability to the class as a
whole on the claims forming the basis of the injunctive relief. James v. City of Dallas, Texas,
254 F.3d 551, 572 (5th Cir. 2001). The court went on to state that "there is no concern that 'the
legitimate interests of potential class members who might wish to pursue their monetary
[damages] claims individually' would be interfered with by this class certification." Id. at 572-
73 (quoting Allison, 151 F.3d at 415).
Accordingly, the Court is persuaded that any putative class members who wish to pursue
individual claims for monetary damages will not be adversely affected by the fact that the Court
has chosen to certify a class for injunctive and declaratory relief and not monetary damages.
For the reasons discussed above, the Court GRANTS Plaintiffs' Motion for Class
Certification and certifies the following class for injunctive and declaratory relief pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(2):
(1) People who are, or appear to be, members of racial or ethnic minority groups and
those in their company, and
(2) Were, or will be, traveling in, through, or near Tenaha at any time after November 1,
(3) Were stopped, or will be subject to being stopped, by one or more Defendant for an
alleged traffic violation
IT IS SO ORDERED.
(Memorandum opinion and order signed by T. John Ward, United States District Judge.)