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California in Brief | FRESNO

Homeless reach suit settlement

June 06, 2008|From the Associated Press

Several homeless people in Fresno who claimed that their belongings were wrongfully seized and destroyed in raids on their camps have reached a $2.3-million settlement with the city and state.

The proposed settlement filed Thursday in U.S. District Court calls for the city to pay the eight plaintiffs and any others who qualify under the class-action suit $1.4 million in cash and living allowances.

The California Department of Transportation will pay an additional $85,000 in cash.

The city has also pledged to pay $850,000 in fees and costs for the plaintiffs' lawyers.

A federal judge ruled last month that Fresno's past policy of sending city workers to raid homeless camps and destroy personal property violated constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure.

The plaintiffs, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, claimed in a lawsuit that workers took personal documents, medications and other property in at least 20 sweeps from 2004 to 2006.

Under the agreement, which a judge must still approve, those eligible for shares of the $485,000 cash portion of the settlement will get assistance setting up bank accounts to receive the money.

Those without bank accounts can receive their share in installments limited to $100 per week, according to court documents.

Approved uses of the $1-million living allowance fund include rent; move-in costs such as security deposits; utilities; and transportation costs.

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