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LA ordered to pay $700K to lawyers for homeless in lawsuit

Jan. 31, 2014 at 8:08 PM

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 31 (UPI) -- A U.S. appeals court ordered Los Angeles to pay $700,000 to lawyers for homeless people in a lawsuit resulting in overturning a ban on sleeping in the streets.

A 2006 court ruling held clearing people from streets without providing beds is cruel and unusual punishment. The ruling came in a lawsuit challenging Police Commissioner William Bratton's use of a century-old law to remove tent cities from LA streets.

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, in upholding the lower court's decision, directed the city to pay the plaintiff's legal fees, but the city said because the underlying case had already been settled, it was not responsible for the fees.

Plaintiffs' lawyer Carol Sobel told the Los Angeles Times the City Council rejected an offer in 2012 to settle the suit for less than $700,000.

As part of the settlement, the city said it would no longer arrest people sleeping on the streets, until it was able to provide alternative housing for 1,250.

An estimated 58,000 people are homeless each night in Los Angeles County -- with 22,000 living on the streets, the Times said.

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