Rape kit lawsuit moves forward against city of Memphis

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The rape kit lawsuit against the city is now moving forward.

On Wednesday, a judge heard arguments on whether the case should be certified as a class action suit. The hearing lasted about two hours on a zoom call that we weren’t allowed to record.

Both sides presented their arguments on why class certification should happen, and now the judge will think it over.

Class certification means, this would be considered a class action lawsuit that this case would effect the rights all of the people who’s rape kits went untested.

The city argued the individual victims claims are too varied to be a class action. But the plaintiffs disagree by saying each person was neglected by the city in the exact same way.

Both parties cited past cases and presented evidence

The judge said she would look it all over.

WREG first uncovered the massive backlog in 2010. Nearly 13,000 kits sat on shelves for year collecting dust, if not decades.

Two women, who told us their rape kits were in that backlog, talked to us after Wednesday’s hearing. They say they’re watching what happens closely, and they admit it’s reopened their wounds.

“It’s difficult living as a victim. I can be told all day you’re worth it but in the end because we don’t get the justification of seeing the individual or hearing the individual has been apprehended it throws us off it makes us insecure,” Valencia Woodin said.

Terilyn Blockman added, “That’s why this case is so imperative to both of us is because we are forgotten. The city was not interested in taking care of us as a victim.”

The city argued Wednesday, that it has tested all of the sexual assault kits in the backlog and implemented new policies, like sending kits to the lab within 96 hours.

We’ve put in record requests to get more information like how many investigations are currently open.

As for Wednesday’s hearing, there’s no set time on how long the judge will take to decide.

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