MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) - There’s new information on lawsuits against Shelby County regarding how it literally lost people in the jail and court system. Three federal class action lawsuits have now been merged into one.
In 2016, the county switched computer systems, causing chaos at the courthouse.
At the Shelby County Criminal Justice center, things are running more smoothly a year and a half after the $10 million computer switchover, but it's what happened in the days, weeks, and months after the new system was installed that caused the problems.
People were lost in jail for days, some even months. At the courthouse, judges and staff were not able to pull up the proper paperwork to make sure the right people were in court or able to check if the status of cases were correct.
Brice Timmons is one of the lawyers handling the federal case. He says now that the three lawsuits are merged, the judge will first decide how the lawsuit will be structured.
"This is a big case with a lot of data, a lot of electronically-stored information a lot of private information, so how that information gets handled is going to be complicated," Timmons.
Timmons believes thousands of people were impacted by the botched computer switchover.
He says many of the people who were stuck in the system were picked up on simple driving offenses and then never convicted of crimes. Because the computer system was spitting out bad information, one of his clients was arrested for an old medical bill.
“He had an outstanding $250 medical debt in a civil case. That's sorta like being arrested ‘cuz you didn't pay your credit card bill. Those are the kinds of people we're talking about here," said Timmons.
Timmons says this is really just the beginning. Class action lawsuits takes years and this case won't end anytime soon.
“Battles like this are fought on long muddy battlefields," said Timmons.
Since the lawsuits were filed, the county has refused to comment, citing pending litigation.