A proposed class action alleges the Town of Brookside, Alabama has wrongfully confiscated and kept a man’s vehicle after it was impounded following the arrest of an individual to whom the car was loaned.
According to the 11-page lawsuit, the plaintiff loaned his car to a friend to go to a store around January 9, 2021. The plaintiff claims in the case that he learned his friend had been pulled over by the Town of Brookside Police Department and was arrested and “charged with several drug crimes,” per the suit. Upon the individual’s arrest, the plaintiff’s vehicle, a 2014 Honda Civic, was confiscated by the Brookside Police Department, the complaint says.
To this date, almost four months after it was confiscated, the plaintiff’s vehicle has not been returned or even made the subject of a civil forfeiture action under state law, the lawsuit alleges.
Shortly after the arrest, the plaintiff began to call the Town of Brookside to attempt to retrieve his car but, according to the suit, has made no progress in recovering the vehicle.
“He has left numerous messages, but has not ever been given the decency of a phone call back to let him know about his car,” the complaint says, stating that the plaintiff has never been charged with a crime and had no knowledge that his friend “would have drugs in his car, or that she would commit any crime with his automobile.”
According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff has made approximately 25 phone calls and sent an email to the Brookside Police Department in his attempts to retrieve his vehicle yet has “never been called or emailed back.”
“The Town of Brookside, through its Police Department, has simply taken [the plaintiff’s] car,” the suit alleges. “The deprivation of [the plaintiff’s] car has resulted in hardship because, like more people, he needs his car to work and go about his life.”
The lawsuit alleges the Town of Brookside’s failure to provide the plaintiff with an adequate, prompt post-deprivation hearing amounts to a violation of the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Per the complaint, if a pre-seizure probable cause hearing is not practical, as is the case with the seizure of property incident to an arrest, a prompt post-seizure hearing to establish the plaintiff had “some knowledge of or involvement in” the alleged crime is due. The defendant, the suit alleges, has failed to provide the plaintiff with a hearing in which he could challenge, before a neutral arbiter, the basis for the seizure and/or indefinite retention of his vehicle.
The case additionally claims the defendant has violated the due process clauses of the Constitution’s Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, and the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against excessive fines.
The suit looks to cover all persons who have had property seized by the Town of Brookside, Alabama and the State of Alabama within the last six years.
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