counsel sought to file the FAC. Between the date on which the notice of that proposed pleading was served on the Sheriff's counsel and this Court and the necessarily later date on which the notice stated that it was to be presented for consideration by this Court, counsel for Sheriff Sheahan caused the warrant against the newly named plaintiff Zuziak to be quashed (as it should have been more than two years earlier, but was not because of the Sheriff's delinquency). Then the Sheriff's counsel sought to use that action on his part as a springboard to urge the claimed absence of a case or controversy as the basis for defeating any effort to bring the FAC, and particularly its Count I, before this Court.
This Court promptly expressed itself orally that such a stance on the Sheriff's part could not be tolerated. In exactly the same way, courts regularly reject the efforts of class-action defendants to pay off or otherwise to satisfy the individual claims of named plaintiffs in an effort to oust the courts of jurisdiction over the class action--a process of "picking off" the plaintiffs on a one-by-one basis. Both in the Opinion and during hearings in this case, this Court has constantly emphasized the case law that teaches "that once a class has been certified it acquires an existence separate and apart from that of the individual named plaintiffs, so that the failure of the latters' individual claims does not impair the class' entitlement to relief ( United States Parole Comm'n v. Geraghty, 445 U.S. 388, 397-401, 63 L. Ed. 2d 479, 100 S. Ct. 1202 (1980); Sosna v. Iowa, 419 U.S. 393, 399-403, 42 L. Ed. 2d 532, 95 S. Ct. 553 (1975))" (Opinion at 1425).
Unsuccessful in that effort to torpedo FAC Count I, the Sheriff's counsel seeks to dismiss the proposed claim for injunctive relief by pointing to City of Los Angeles v. Lyons, 461 U.S. 95, 75 L. Ed. 2d 675, 103 S. Ct. 1660 (1983) and O'Shea v. Littleton, 414 U.S. 488, 38 L. Ed. 2d 674, 94 S. Ct. 669 (1974) as establishing the absence of an Article III case or controversy such as to justify equitable relief. Those cases, says Sheriff Sheahan, bar any potential for forcing him to cure the endemic problems identified in the Opinion. Under those opinions, the speculative nature of any potential future entanglements with the criminal law system on the part of the plaintiffs has been held to negate the required Article III standing for obtaining injunctive relief.
Although O'Shea had been instituted as a class action (Lyons was not), neither O'Shea nor Lyons involved an already certified class. To this Court it seemed that fact, together with other factors discussed later in this opinion, might amount to material differences calling for a different legal conclusion, though neither party had adduced any case law addressing that possibility. It seemed entirely conceivable that although no specific individual might be able to demonstrate the likelihood that he or she would sustain future damages as the result of an invalid warrant remaining in the Sheriff's computer system as a seemingly live warrant, the fact (combined with the future probability) that one or more members of an entire class are thus placed in actual peril would appear to bulk much larger.
In any event, this Court sent counsel for the litigants back to the books for further enlightenment on the matter. In response to this Court's request, counsel for Sheriff Sheahan has filed a supplemental memorandum by which he intends to show that O'Shea is still alive and well and living in the Seventh Circuit.
Although this Court had posed that inquiry in the class action context, virtually every case cited on the Sheriff's behalf involved individual claims
: Holstein v. City of Chicago, 29 F.3d 1145 (7th Cir. 1994); Smith v. Wisconsin Dep't of Agric., 23 F.3d 1134, 1141 (1994); Stewart v. McGinnis, 5 F.3d 1031, 1038 (7th Cir. 1993); Knox v. McGinnis, 998 F.2d 1405, 1413-14 (7th Cir. 1993); Feit v. Ward, 886 F.2d 848, 857-58 (7th Cir. 1989); and some more tangential cases that counsel characterizes by a "see also" label. Indeed, Sheriff Supp. Mem. 3-4 acknowledges that the plaintiff in Holstein had sought to file a class action but had not yet moved for class certification--so that Supp. Mem. 4 says:
Consequently, the class action exception to the mootness doctrine was not available to him.