Victims seek class-action lawsuit against City of Memphis’ alleged mishandling of rape kits

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Thousands of rape victims in Memphis who blame the City for the botched handling of their rape kits may soon get their day in court.

A judge could make their legal challenge a class action lawsuit.

For now, many of them are known collectively in court by one name.

“We are the Jane Does,” said Valencia Woodin, who gave FOX13 permission to use her name as she talked about an investigation into a 2013 case.

“They hadn’t even looked at the rape kit,” Woodin said. “They had not looked at the cameras when the guy barged into the room.”

Many rape survivors now want to join the current lawsuit against the City of Memphis for the way the police department disregarded their rape kits.

12,000 kits were discovered in storage, seemingly forgotten.

Terrilyn Blockman said she thought her case certainly was.

“Nobody ever called me,” Blockman said. “I never heard from anybody. My kit was never tested. I never knew if I had a kit.”

To get their cases before a judge, their attorneys want a current lawsuit involving three women to become a class-action lawsuit.

They argued it was time to certify the case.

“This case will affect the 12,000 victims whose kits were untested, if the judge agrees,” said Daniel Lofton, an attorney who represents the three women.

The plantiffs’ lawyers are seeking $10 million in damages.

Lawyers representing the City of Memphis argue the statute of limitations has run out. In other words, they said it’s too late to bring in new victims.

“The City made its announcement in October of (20)13,” Lofton said. “Our suit was filed in August of 2013.”

Woodin told FOX13 someone has to be held responsible.