St. Louis city settles lawsuit over municipal court fees

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ST. LOUIS (KPLR) - The city of St. Louis will pay out around $750,000 to settle a class action court case where it was accused of charging an illegal municipal court fee.

The settlement was announced Monday downtown in the civil courts building.

The plaintiffs sued back in 2014 accusing the City of St. Louis of unlawfully charging a fee to cancel warrants.

The plaintiffs say the city had collected between more than $1 million dollars with the fee since 2009.

The plaintiffs say at least 21,000 people have paid the fee since that time.

Today, the two sides settled with the city agreeing to refund $750,000.

'The city was making money, it was for-profit policing, it was adding to the burden of what a lot of people already face,' said Erich Vieth, an attorney for the plaintiffs.

Vieth added, 'The legality of it is simply that the state does not allow a municipality to charge willy nilly any sort of fee. It has to be only certain types of fees-this was not in the list that is allowed by the state of Missouri, therefore this fee was illegal.'

The city admitted no fault in the settlement.

An attorney for the city said in court that the settlement was 'an appropriate compromise for a disputed claim.'

The judge in the case, David Dowd, called the settlement 'fair' and 'reasonable.'

This was the first of several suits accusing municipalities of illegally charging court fees to reach a settlement.

Among those still pending, is a suit in Ferguson.