Escambia County Jail Explosion Victims Seek Class Action Settlement

Michles & Booth is pleased to announce a significant development in the ongoing litigation against Escambia County and a number of other Defendants arising out of the April 30, 2014, explosion at Escambia County’s Central Booking and Detention Facility. 

Just over two years ago our firm filed a lawsuit against a number of Defendants on behalf of the victims that had retained our firm to represent them. Since that time, we have worked tirelessly with a group of other law firms to reach a settlement with all the companies that our joint investigation uncovered. This past Friday, our firm filed two important documents that move our case closer to that goal.

Class Action Complaint

The first was a Class Action complaint which lays out specific allegations against each entity that we believe to have played a role in causing the explosion.

Asking the Court to convert the lawsuit our firm filed two years ago into a Class Action will help ensure that each and every victim of the explosion is fairly and equally compensated for their losses. Although our firm represents nearly one sixth of all the injured inmates, detainees, and employees, we recognize that a settlement will only be possible if all the victims can receive fair compensation.

This new complaint lays out specific reasons why we believe a class action is appropriate, given the number of victims (approximately 670), the types of injuries, but most importantly, the benefit it will bring to the victims by ensuring everyone is adequately and fairly represented in the settlement. Specifically, the class action will help the parties define different categories of injuries, and ensure that similar victims receive equal compensation.

Requesting The Court’s Approval

Second, we filed a motion requesting the Court approve the class action, establish the settlement class, and move us closer to securing the $17,500,000 in settlement funds. If the Court approves the class action, it will be up to our firm, in conjunction with the other class counsel and the claims’ administrator, to ensure that every effort is made to reach all of the potential victims so that they are given the opportunity to either participate in the class, or opt out and attempt to pursue a claim on their own (a daunting task, given the work done by all parties to come close to securing this settlement).

One of the major issues that we will address through the class action proceedings will be dealing with liens. Many of the victims will have received medical treatment that was paid for by health insurance, and those companies have a legal right to be repaid. In addition, there may be other liens against settlements, such as court costs or fines, or child support liens, all of which must be addressed in the settlement.

These are just some of the larger issues that both the plaintiffs and defendants will need to resolve as the settlement moves forward. Our first priority is to have a hearing with the Court to certify the settlement class and approve the proposed settlement.

Minimizing The Costs To Maximize Benefits For The Victims

Unfortunately, we realize that despite the work of our firm and the other firms that represent the victims of this tragedy, there is simply not enough money to fairly compensate all the victims. That is the sad reality of this situation, but the class action will help us minimize the costs associated with complex litigation, leaving more of the settlement funds available to compensate the victims.

This is especially important as some of the insurance policies covering the Defendants are what is known as depleting policies, which means that the Defense lawyers are paid out of the same pot of money used to compensate the victims. If we were forced to litigate this matter further, the settlement funds would be reduced for each hour the Defendants spent fighting us.

Despite this, our hope is that this class action will ultimately result in a just and expeditious resolution, and will be a major milestone for all the victims of this terrible event, moving them one step closer to receiving justice.


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