Plaintiffs hoping city will be liable for $10M in rape kit lawsuit

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The city of Memphis could have to pay $10 million to the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against them for the backlog of untested rape kits.

WREG uncovered the backlog in 2010.

It turned out thousands of rape kits had gone untested and three women have since joined together in a lawsuit against the city for damages.

But thousands of victims were affected by this, which brings up questions of what all the city is liable for.

Plenty of items are still up in the air in this case.

On Tuesday, one of them discussed was the idea of money: How much and who qualifies for it.

In 2013, Memphis city leaders owned up to the huge mess: Thousands of rape kits had gone untested.

Now, about five years later, some victims are still trying to find justice in a lawsuit against the city.

"Our lead plaintiff, her kit sat on the shelf more than 15 years. So it's impossible for her perpetrator to be arrested and convicted," said the plaintiffs' attorney Daniel Lofton.

Three women are named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit, but one question is what the damages awarded could be capped at and who all would get them.

The plaintiffs are fighting for $10 million instead of $700,000 and want it to be treated like a class action lawsuit.

"It remains to be seen exactly how many plaintiffs will qualify under the class, when and if it's certified, but it's in the thousands," Lofton said.

Judge Gina Higgins pushed back Tuesday's discussions, giving both sides to prepare more material so she can determine the limit.

But she also wants to put a scheduling order in place.

"So at least you all can get in forward direction. Right now, we appear to just stay lateral and we're not going anywhere with that. I want something to happen in this case," said Judge Gina C. Higgins, with Shelby County Circuit Court.

Attorneys say they're ready to keep fighting for the 12,000 plus victims who experienced the unthinkable.

"It's a tragedy for all no doubt, but for some of them it's more severe. It manifests itself in different ways, depression, loss of the ability to have a close relationship," said Lofton.

The city's attorneys did not want to comment on the case, but they did say in court they think the plaintiffs are trying to continue pushing the case back, while they say it's time to shut the case down.