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No Pause on Immigrants’ GPS Ankle Monitor Class Action (1)

Nov. 23, 2018, 4:29 PMUpdated: Nov. 23, 2018, 7:38 PM

Immigrant detainees alleging Libre by Nexus charges them exorbitant fees for GPS ankle monitors convinced a federal court not to pause their class action.

The alleged monetary damage incurred by plaintiffs is “particularly harmful here given plaintiffs’ modest means,” Judge Claudia Wilken wrote for the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

Plaintiffs’ counsel called the order “huge victory for the immigrant community who continue to suffer economically, physically, and emotionally because of Libre’s shackles, and unfair business practices.”

The company’s “offer of freedom to vulnerable populations is a total fraud,” Annick M. Persinger of Tycko & Zavareei LLP in Oakland, Calif., said in a statement released Nov. 22. “Instead, Libre shackles my clients physically and economically.”

Libre’s president, Mike Donovan, told Bloomberg Law Nov. 23, “Libre remains steadfast in its position and will proceed to vigorously defend the company and our team from baseless, ridiculous accusations proffered by for-profit plaintiff lawyers.”

He called the GPS monitor fees “unfortunately necessary in order to establish the direly needed infrastructure.”

Libre helps secure third-party bonds for immigration detainees and issues them with GPS ankle monitors to keep detainees from fleeing.

The company charges an activation fee of $880 and a monthly rental fee of $420 while the detainees await immigration hearings, which can take years, the immigrants allege.

The company asked the court to stay the litigation while it seeks appellate review of an order refusing to send the case to arbitration. That August order found the arbitration agreements were void as fraudulently executed.

But the court found a stay isn’t warranted because the financial burden to the immigrants of continuing to pay for their monitors outweighs Libre’s burden of paying litigation costs.

Centro Legal de la Raza; Tycko & Zavareei LLP; and Migliaccio and Rathod LLP represented the immigrants.

Gorby, Peters and Associates LLC and Reallaw APC represented Libre by Nexus.

The case is Vasquez v. Libre by Nexus, N.D. Cal., No. 17-755, stay denied 11/20/18.

To contact the reporter on this story: Perry Cooper in Washington at pcooper@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jo-el J. Meyer at jmeyer@bloomberglaw.com; Nicholas Datlowe at ndatlowe@bloomberglaw.com