Pottinger v. City of Miami

810 F. Supp. 1551 (1992)

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Pottinger v. City of Miami

United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida
810 F. Supp. 1551 (1992)

LJ

Facts

The city of Miami, Florida, had a significant homeless population who had basically no option but to perform daily living activities, such as eating and sleeping, in public places. In December 1988, Michael Pottinger, Peter Carter, and Barry Young, on behalf of themselves and approximately 6,000 other homeless people (collectively, the homeless) (plaintiffs), filed a lawsuit against the city of Miami (defendant) alleging that (1) the city of Miami had a pattern and practice of arresting homeless individuals and driving them from public areas; (2) the arrests of the homeless individuals were not based on criminal activity, but rather ordinance violations based on the fact that the homeless were performing daily life functions in public, and such arrests violated of the Eight Amendment to the United States Constitution; (3) the arrests violated the due-process rights of the homeless; (4) the city of Miami failed to follow its own inventory procedures in handling the property of the homeless arrestees; and (5) the arrests violated the rights of the homeless individuals to travel under the Equal Protection Clause. At trial, evidence was presented supporting the finding that the vast majority of homeless individuals in the city of Miami were not homeless by choice. Evidence was also presented establishing that the city of Miami lacked adequate resources to accommodate its homeless population and to provide alternative options for homeless individuals to perform these daily life functions. The city of Miami asserted that it had compelling interests in keeping its parks and streets clean, preventing crime, and promoting tourism. As relief, the homeless sought an injunction to restrain the city of Miami from arresting individuals who were merely performing inoffensive actions, such as sleeping and bathing, in public.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Atkins, J.)

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