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Class settlement reached in White County will reimburse $80K for drug test fees
Suit identifies 276 people on probation eligible for payment

A federal judge in Gainesville granted final approval of a class settlement Monday regarding White County probationers and drug testing, according to court documents.

The settlement identified 276 individuals and made $80,000 available for certain White County probationers who paid for allegedly unauthorized drug testing.

Two probationers filed a lawsuit in February 2016 after sentencing from White County Probate Court for driving without a license and were made to pay for drug testing.

Attorneys for both parties did not return multiple calls for comment.

“Probationers were required to pay Sentinel (Offender Services) a fee of approximately $15 for each drug test,” according to the order. “(Sentinel) agreed that certain probationers were required to undergo urine screening, but denied that the practice was unauthorized or unlawful. (Sentinel) further contended that certain probationers signed enforceable arbitration agreements, and that certain probationers consented to random drug testing.”

Sentinel Offender Services is a contracted probation supervision company.

The two probationers paid for 10 tests collectively, though they claimed Sentinel lacked “authority to impose drug testing on probationers.”

Sentinel denied the assertion of drug tests being unauthorized, “claiming that the drug tests were in fact authorized by the terms of the White County Probate Court’s probation orders,” according to the order.

In July 2016, both sides agreed to a framework of a class settlement for people serving probation in White County and were subjected to drug testing after Feb. 17, 2012. The class requirements also included that the sentencing order must not specifically authorize drug testing and the probationer was not under an order from another court for drug testing.

The parties determined the group affected to be 276 people who submitted to 964 drug tests.

Every class member submitting a claim would be reimbursed for any fees paid for drug screening and “damages up to $90 per unauthorized drug test” conducted after Feb. 17, 2012, if there is a surplus following the restitution payouts, according to the order.

Only 106 of the 276 class members responded to the settlement notice.

“The parties’ counsel further reported that the $80,000 fund provided by defendants would be sufficient to pay full restitution and the full $90 in damages per unauthorized drug test,” according to the order.

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