Squire Patton Boggs Wins Settlement on Behalf of Journalists in Ferguson Civil Rights Lawsuit

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    Squire Patton Boggs of counsel Corrine A. Irish has won a settlement with the St. Louis County Police Department on behalf of four journalists who sued both the City and County of St. Louis and its officers for First Amendment and Fourth Amendment violations, battery, and false arrest that occurred during their reporting of the Ferguson protests in August 2014.

    The plaintiffs include Ryan Devereaux of Intercept/First Look Media; Ansgar Graw, senior political US correspondent for Die Welt and Welt am Sonntag; Frank Herrmann, the US correspondent for a group of German regional papers; and Lukas Hermsmeier, a freelance journalist. Following their arrest, Ms. Irish and the Squire Patton Boggs Public Service Initiative (PSI), with assistance from Squire Patton Boggs partner Steven A. Friedman, took on their representation and filed suit in March 2015, seeking monetary damages and an injunction to prevent the defendants from using illegal and unconstitutional means to interfere with journalists engaged in news gathering and recording of police activity. Rick Sindel, from the St. Louis firm of Sindel, Sindel, & Nobel, was also enlisted to act as counsel on behalf of the plaintiffs.

    On Wednesday, May 11, the plaintiffs and the County of St. Louis entered a Joint Stipulation of Partial Dismissal with the Court. (Accessed here: http://bit.ly/1rVF9Qg). The journalists are still in litigation against the City of St. Louis.

    The following joint statement was issued by Corrine Irish, Of Counsel, Squire Patton Boggs (US) LLP; Rick Sindel, Partner, Sindel, Sindel, & Nobel; and Michael Shuman, County Counselor, St. Louis County, on May 11, 2016:

    “Ryan Devereaux, Lukas Hermsmeier, Ansgar Graw and Frank Hermann, professional journalists and plaintiffs, (“Plaintiffs”) and the County of St. Louis are pleased to announce that they have resolved claims brought against the County, and its officers. The lawsuit, Devereaux et al. v. County of St. Louis et al., 4:15-cv-00553-RWS (Eastern District of Missouri), alleges violations of the plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights to engage in newsgathering and recording of the police and Fourth Amendment search and seizure violations. While the specific terms of the settlement are confidential, the County has agreed to adopt policy changes that will address the issues raised by this lawsuit. The parties believe that the resolution reached will ensure that the County’s policing activities are consistent with the County’s expressed commitment to keeping the public informed, and does not impede on the police department’s responsibility to protect the community.

    The Plaintiffs and their attorneys at Squire Patton Boggs (US) LLP and Sindel, Sindel and Nobel, recognize that the leadership of the St. Louis County Police Department has agreed to take steps to address the issues raised by this lawsuit and diligently engage to resolve this dispute in a positive and constructive manner. The County and the Department recognize that Plaintiffs, in bringing this lawsuit, have sought reform that would benefit both the police department and the citizens that they serve.” 

    The Second Amended Complaint can be accessed here: http://bit.ly/24Lqdmf.

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