Two Baltimore residents were evicted and had thousands of dollars of property seized without any prior notice under an “unconstitutional” city law a day before they planned to move out, according to a federal lawsuit.

Marshal Todman and Tiffany Gattis are suing the city and their former landlord, Brock Collins, accusing city officials of passing an “unconstitutional” eviction law that allowed Collins to seize their personal property despite having an agreement to move out only two days later. The case was filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.


A spokesman for the mayor’s office did not respond to requests for comment. Attempts to contact Collins were unsuccessful.

According to the lawsuit, the two had an “oral lease” with Collins, in violation of Maryland law, but Collins continued to pressure them “to move to one of his less desirable properties.”

The two claim that, after nine months of pressure, they found a new rental home and planned to move out Aug. 2.

The two sides met in court July 2 after Collins filed a “tenant holding over action” against the two, the lawsuit claims, and Collins claimed the two had entered a month-to-month lease that he’d terminated.

The judge instituted a two-week stay on the judgment, the lawsuit reads, prohibiting Collins from filing a warrant of restitution to evict the two and seize their property until July 17.

According to the lawsuit, the arrangement would have given Todman and Gattis until Aug. 2 to move out because it takes at least two weeks after a warrant of restitution is filed and approved to schedule an eviction.

The two would later find out that the home was ready to be moved into Aug. 1, the lawsuit claims, and they packed boxes and rented a moving truck for that date.

However, Collins did not follow the order and filed the eviction warrant July 15, the lawsuit claims. After it was accepted the next day by the District Court of Maryland, the lawsuit claims the Baltimore City Sheriff’s Office scheduled an eviction for July 31.

On that date, the lawsuit claims, the two were at work when a sheriff’s deputy and Collins arrived at their home around 10 a.m. and began to seize their property despite the fact that the items were packed up in moving materials.

“Plaintiffs rushed home from work when they learned of the eviction, but by that time the locks were already changed,” the lawsuit reads. “Defendant Collins texted Plaintiffs, claiming that he now owned all of their belongings, despite the fact that Plaintiffs’ belongings were packed in boxes, clearly ready to be moved, and could not be reasonably believed to have been intentionally abandoned by Plaintiffs.”

The two claim Collins seized several thousands of dollars worth of personal items, as well as family heirlooms and the ashes of a dead great-grandfather.

The seizure was granted by a portion of city code that says “all property in or about the leased premises at the time that the warrant of restitution is executed is abandoned," as well as waiving any liability the landlord would have for damaged property, according to the lawsuit.

The two claim the law itself is unconstitutional, saying they received no prior notice about the eviction nor its consequences. They’re asking for the law to be declared unconstitutional under the Fifth and 14th amendments.

The two are also asking for at least $150,000 compensatory damages from the city and Collins.