Judge orders May 21 Jamar Clark settlement conference, could be all-nighter

A federal judge has ordered all parties involved in the Jamar Clark lawsuit settlement discussions back to court at 10 a.m. on May 21, and it sounds like it could be an all-nighter. 

"All participants shall plan on spending the entire day and evening, if necessary, at this settlement conference," U.S. Magistrate Judge Tony Leung wrote in his order, scheduling the settlement conference. "Any flight or other travel reservations made for any time during the above day(s) of the settlement conference, including without limitation, any late afternoon or evening flight, shall be at the sole risk and expense of the person or party making such reservation."

The judge ordered the lawyers and parties to the case to be present and "armed with full settlement authority." The judge wants both sides to come to court with any people and technology they would need for editing or creating settlement documents.

Jamar Clark was fatally shot by Minneapolis police back in November 2015. The officers involved in the shooting were not criminally charged, but Clark's family filed a lawsuit accusing officers Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze of unreasonable use of excessive force. Schwarze has since been dropped from the lawsuit.

Judge Leung also set a May 16 deadline to deliver the following items to the court:

  • The parties' respective settlement positions; 
  • A concise analysis of each remaining liability issue, with citation to relevant authority;
  • A reasoned, itemized computation of each element of the alleged damages, with a concise summary of the testimony of each witness who will testify in support of the damage computations;
  • A reasoned analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of their client's case;
  • A reasoned analysis justifying their client's last stated settlement position, as well as any additional information believed to be helpful to the process of reaching agreement; and 
  • An estimated statement of attorney’s fees and costs needed to complete dispositive motion briefing, if such briefing has not been completed; to complete all necessary discovery (including expert discovery), if such discovery has not been completed; to prepare for trial; and to try the case.

The Minneapolis City Council rejected a proposed settlement in the Jamar Clark case earlier this month, but City Attorney Susan Segal told the court the city remains open to negotiations. Minneapolis city leaders were ordered to court on May 8 to discuss the case.

The court date came just days after the city settled a $20 million lawsuit with the family of Justine Damond, who was fatally shot by former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor. Apparently, the two sides had a deal on the Clark lawsuit in the same meeting that led to the Damond settlement, but the city council rejected the proposal.

Jamar's stepfather James Clark singled out racism as one reason the city just agreed to pay the family of Justine Rusczyzk Damond, while rejecting an agreement Clark and his legal team had negotiated with the city attorney.

“It happened so fast and this case with me and my lawyer has been going on for about four years now. We just don’t understand it. It just seems they’re trying to kick our case under the rug and go do something else,” Clark said.

“Bob Bennett argued for a transformational amount. He got it. It’s been publicized in the newspaper. It puts us in a position where we should also get a transforming amount,” added William Starr, attorney for Jamar Clark’s family.

Jamar Clark was 24 when he was shot to death outside a party at an apartment on Plymouth Avenue North back in November 2015. Official investigations found Clark struggled with Minneapolis Police Officers Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze and might have had a hand on Ringgenberg’s gun when Schwarze fired.

The death lead to weeks of protest and unrest, and Jamar’s dad - the appointed next of kin - filed a lawsuit two years ago, frustrated there’d be no justice in the case while blaming police for the use of an excessive amount of force. Schwarze's name has since been dropped from the lawsuit.