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Frank v. City of St. Louis

United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, Eastern Division

May 2, 2020, Decided; May 2, 2020, Filed

Case No. 4:20-CV-00597 SEP



This case lies at the intersection of two intractable social problems: homelessness and the Covid-19 pandemic. The parties disagree about how best to serve the needs of individuals experiencing homelessness in downtown St. Louis, Missouri, in light of the extraordinary complications caused by the novel coronavirus. Defendant, the City of St. Louis ("the City"), believes that the tent encampments that have developed in the area circumscribed by 10th and 18th Streets and Market and Chestnut Streets in downtown St. Louis pose a risk to the health of their occupants and the public, and therefore the City seeks to close those encampments and relocate their residents. Plaintiff Ranata Frank ("Ms. Frank"), a woman who [*2]  has resided in one of the threatened encampments for the past month, believes that the City's closure of the encampment punishes her based on her homeless status in violation of her Eighth Amendment right to protection from cruel and unusual punishment.

Homelessness is an exceptionally complex phenomenon even when it is not exacerbated by a global pandemic. The Court admires all entities that work to address the scourge of homelessness—a category that includes both Plaintiff's counsel, the ArchCity Defenders, and Defendant, the City of St. Louis. The Court does not doubt the depth or sincerity of either organization's concern for the individuals who reside in the encampments that are at the heart of this case. Nor does the Court express an opinion about the merits of either's approach to addressing those individuals' needs. This Court's role is not to evaluate competing policy prescriptions.

This case is before the Court on Plaintiffs' Motion for Temporary Restraining Order ("TRO"). Doc. . Therefore, the sole question before this Court is whether Plaintiff has met the legal standard for obtaining the "extraordinary and drastic remedy" of an immediate injunction against the City's proposed course [*3]  of action. King v. Blake, No. 4:08CV1050 RWS, 2009 WL 73678, at *1 (E.D. Mo. Jan. 9, 2009); see also id. ("The burden of proving that the relief should be awarded rests entirely on the movant."). Upon review of Plaintiff's Class Action Complaint (Doc. ) and supporting declarations; Plaintiffs' Motion for Temporary Restraining Order (Doc. ); affidavits submitted by Defendant in Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion for Temporary Restraining Order (Docs. [13], [18]); the City of St. Louis's April 29, 2020, Notice of Violations and Order to Vacate (Doc. [22], attached hereto as Exhibit A) ("Notice and Order"); and having heard oral argument, the Court finds that Ms. Frank has not met that burden, and therefore her motion must be denied.

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2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 77525 *

RANATA FRANK, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs, v. THE CITY OF ST. LOUIS, Defendant.

Subsequent History: Motion granted by, in part, Motion denied by, in part Frank v. City of St. Louis, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 80650 (E.D. Mo., May 7, 2020)


encampments, homeless, sleeping, criminalize, Street, housing, temporary restraining order, irreparable harm, residents, public health, ordinance, downtown, succeed, spread