ANDREW WIMER, INSTITUTE FOR JUSTICE
PHILADELPHIA— Philadelphians who lost their property to the city’s abusive civil forfeiture machine must apply by December 6, 2019 to receive a cash settlement. Last fall, the Institute for Justice (IJ) announced an agreement with the city to end a class action lawsuit on behalf of people who had homes, cash and cars wrongfully seized. After a federal court preliminarily approved this agreement, almost 35,000 individuals were mailed an official class notice informing them that they may be eligible for compensation.
People can apply for compensation by completing and mailing the Claim Form they received in the mail or by submitting a claim online at https://www.phillyforfeiture.com/claimform.aspx. Individuals will need their Unique ID number included in the official class notice to submit a claim. Individuals who had their property subject to civil forfeiture on or after August 11, 2012 but did not receive a letter should contact the Institute for Justice at (703) 682-9331 or the Claims Administrator at (888) 730-9958.
Class members must apply by December 6, 2019 to be eligible to receive their cash settlement.
“Innocent Philadelphians who unjustly lost homes, money and cars to the city’s forfeiture machine are able to get back every penny back but they need to apply before the deadline,” said Darpana Sheth, lead counsel for plaintiffs and director of the Institute for Justice’s National Initiative to End Forfeiture Abuse. “We want to make sure that everyone who is entitled to compensation knows that they can receive some measure of justice for their mistreatment. The period to apply for compensation is limited and we encourage Philadelphians to act now if they have received a letter letting them know they are eligible.”
Darpana Sheth is available on Thursday, October 24 in Philadelphia for interviews on the details of settlement and the application procedures. Contact Andrew Wimer, IJ Assistant Communications Director, to schedule at (703) 682-9320 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The settlement establishes a $3 million fund to compensate forfeiture victims with the following details:
- Each qualifying person who lost their property through forfeiture, but who was not convicted of a related criminal charge, will get up to 100 percent of the value of their forfeited property;
- Each qualifying person who lost their property through forfeiture, but who participated in a diversionary program for low-level, first-time offenders, will receive up to 75 percent of the value of their forfeited property;
- Each qualifying person who submits a timely claim will get up to $90 in recognition of the violation of their constitutional rights.
Andrew Wimer is Assistant Director of Communications for the Institute of Justice. Andrew is a graduate of Grove City College in Pennsylvania. He received his Masters in Public Communications from American University.