Missouri Town Releases Information on Litigation Costs

11-24-2008 Last week, the city of Valley Park, which has been involved in several legal challenges over anti-immigrant ordinances, released information showing the costs to local taxpayers in defending the various pieces of legislation:
Valley Park City Attorney Eric Martin has released information on the costs to taxpayers — totaling more than $273,000 over the last two years — from the city defending a variety of lawsuits related to its illegal-immigration laws.
The lawsuits started in 2006, when 28 lawyers from various civil rights groups including MALDEF filed suit against the city’s ordinances “restricting housing of and employment of those in the U.S. illegally” arguing the law would, among others things, lead to discrimination against nation-origin minorities, regardless of status.
Before trial, Valley Park voided the laws challenged in the suit and enacted new ones. The St. Louis County Circuit Court restricted the city from enforcing the repealed laws, finding them void. . . The costs for Martin and two other attorneys to defend the city were $113,806.60.
In 2007, another coalition of civil rights organizations filed suit to challenge the new laws enacted by the city. Again, the city repealed the anti-immigrant laws. The costs for Eric Martin and Valley Park: $8,212.50.

Later in 2007, contempt citations against the city for violating a court order by passing new anti-immigrant laws cost the city $4,812.50 in legal lees.

Several appeals in 2007 in the Missouri Court of Appeals cost Valley Park’s city attorney $8,575, $1,125, and $13,175.

One of the most expensive legal battles was over an ordinance involving employers:
In 2007, MALDEF and the ACLU both filed suits in St. Louis County Circuit Court to void the Valley Park employment law requiring licensed businesses to hire only people lawfully in the United States. The case later was removed to U.S. District Court, which upheld the city’s right to enact the law and denied relief to MALDEF and the ACLU, which also sought attorneys’ fees. The costs for Martin and another attorney were $115,718.93.
And the legal battles continue:
In 2008, MALDEF and the ACLU appealed the U.S. District Court ruling to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, seeking to overturn the ruling on procedural grounds. That case is scheduled for argument in December. So far, Martin’s costs are $2,575.
(All quotes taken from this article from Suburban Journals, in St. Louis, Missouri)

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund