With the case just one year old, the trial for a class-action lawsuit against the City and County of Denver could end before it begins. In an unusual situation, both parties on Aug. 14 filed motions for summary judgment in Lyall v. City and County of Denver, the suit alleging recent “sweeps” of homeless encampments around the city violated the plaintiffs’ Fourth, Eighth and 14th Amendment rights.
“Denver has simply been acting unconstitutionally,” said Jason Flores-Williams, the attorney who filed the lawsuit in August 2016 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado. He said the case’s class-action status makes it distinctive because the decision for certifi cation was made on civil-rights grounds and added that because the case is in federal court, its outcome could grow to set a significant precedent for similar cases across the country.
The City and County of Denver also fi led its own motion for summary judgment. In a prepared statement, the Denver City Attorney’s Office said “it will be up to the court to determine what the evidence shows and whether either side is entitled to judgment without a trial.” Defendants in the lawsuit did not provide further comment for this story.
The court on April 27 certified the class of plaintiffs. The original complaint defined the class as all homeless individuals in Denver whose property was, or will be, taken and destroyed as a result of the homeless sweeps. Defendants, as stated by the complaint, include:
• The City of Denver
• Mayor Michael Hancock
• Denver Chief of Police Robert White
• Denver Public Works Manager Jose Cornejo
• Hancock’s Chief of Staff Evan Dreyer. The defense’s motion for summary judgment states during the relevant times alleged by the plaintiffs, Dreyer held the position of deputy chief of staff.
• Antonio Lopez, commander in the Denver Police Department of District 6