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Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Pritchard v. County of Erie JC-NY-0048
Docket / Court 1:04-cv-00534-JTC ( W.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Special Collection Strip Search Cases
Case Summary
On October 31, 2003, three plaintiffs represented by private attorneys with law firms in New York and Washington, D.C., filed this class action civil rights lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York. They alleged that the Erie County ... read more >
On October 31, 2003, three plaintiffs represented by private attorneys with law firms in New York and Washington, D.C., filed this class action civil rights lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York. They alleged that the Erie County Sheriff's Department had an unconstitutional blanket policy and/or practice of strip searching all individuals who entered either the Erie County Holding Center or the Erie County Correctional Facility, regardless of the crime charged and without reasonable suspicion that the individuals were concealing weapons or contraband. The plaintiffs alleged that the policy violated the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. They sought declaratory and injunctive relief, compensatory and punitive damages, and class certification.

The parties engaged in contentious discovery, resulting in numerous discovery motions and request for sanctions. District Judge John T. Curtin and Magistrate Judge Hugh B. Scott made numerous unpublished rulings on these issues. See, e.g., Pritchard v. County of Erie, 2006 WL 1455484 (W.D. N.Y. May 22, 2006) and Pritchard v. County of Erie, 2006 WL 2927852 (W.D. N.Y. Oct 12, 2006) (order relating to the deposition of an Assistant County Attorney). Additionally, the judges issued opinions regarding discovery of e-mails sent by a former Assistant County Attorney to individual defendants and other Sheriff's Department officials regarding the Sheriff's Department's evolving policies regarding inmate strip searches. See Pritchard v. County of Erie, 2006 WL 3858475 (W.D. N.Y. Jan. 04, 2006); objections overruled by Pritchard v. County of Erie, 2006 WL 3872844 (W.D. N.Y. Apr. 17, 2006); vacated and remanded by In re County of Erie, 473 F.3d 413 (2nd Cir. 2007) (Circuit Judge Dennis Jacobs); on remand, the Court found that dissemination of attorney's advice did not waive attorney-client privilege. Pritchard v. County of Erie, 2007 WL 1703832 (W.D. N.Y. June 12, 2007). On reconsideration, the Court found that the defendants waived the attorney-client privilege with respect to the disputed e-mails by placing the information in those communications "at issue" in the litigation. Pritchard v. County of Erie, 2007 WL 3232096 (W.D. N.Y. Oct 31, 2007).

On September, 2009, the plaintiffs sought class certification of the class of all persons who have been placed into the custody of the Erie County Correctional Facility and/or the Erie County Holding Center after being charged with misdemeanors, violations, violations of probation or parole, traffic infractions, civil commitments or other minor crimes and were strip searched upon their entry into the Erie County Correctional Facility and/or the Erie County Holding Center pursuant to the policy, custom and practice of the Erie County Sheriff's Department and the County of Erie. The plaintiffs requested that the Court certify this action as a money damages class action under Rule 23(b)(3). In the alternative, the plaintiffs sought partial certification under Rule 23(c)(4). The court held in favor plaintiff and found that all the requirements for class certification had been met. 269 F.R.D. 213, 219. But, the court defined two separate classes for the Erie County Holding Center and Erie County Correctional Facility, respectively, based on its finding that the two facilities did not share enough commonality due to the different procedures each had in place. 269 F.R.D. 213.

However, in 2010, the Supreme Court courted decided Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders, 132 S.Ct. 1510 (2012), and held that searches in a New Jersey jail did not violate the Fourth or Fourteenth Amendments. In response, the plaintiffs in this case submitted a brief distinguishing this case from Florence. The plaintiffs argued that the strip searches in Florence were private, individual searches, while the searches in this case were in groups. (In ECHC, class members were searched in groups of three in a shower area, and in ECCF, class members were searched in larger groups in a large common room). The plaintiffs further argued that the Florence decision was limited to the facts addressed in that case.

The Court instructed the parties to provide a joint submission regarding the procedural posture of this action based on the Florence decision, but the parties did not reach an agreement. Instead, on May 23, 2012, the plaintiffs requested that the Court allow the plaintiffs to file an amended complaint.

As of March 22, 2016, the court had not ruled on the request for leave to file an amended complaint and no other action has occurred in the case.

Dan Dalton - 03/05/2008
Soojin Cha - 03/22/2016


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Male
General
Search policies
Strip search policy
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Erie County Correctional Facility
Erie County Holding Center
The County of Erie
Plaintiff Description All persons, commencing July 10, 2001, who have been placed into the custody of the Erie County Correctional Facility and/or Holding Center after being charged with minor crimes absent reasonable suspicion of contraband or weapons.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Unknown
Additional Resources
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Case Studies After Decision: Implementation of Judicial Decrees in Correctional Settings
Written: Oct. 01, 1977
By: M. Kay Harris & Dudley P. Spiller (Temple University)
Citation: (1977)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ]

  Jail Strip-Search Cases: Patterns and Participants
http://law.duke.edu/journals/lcp
By: Margo Schlanger (Washington University in St. Louis)
Citation: 71 Law & Contemp. Problems 65 (2008)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
1:04-cv-00534-JTC (W.D.N.Y.) 05/23/2012
JC-NY-0048-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint 07/21/2004
JC-NY-0048-0001 PDF | Detail
Stipulation and Order [Withdrawing Cross-Claims] 06/23/2005 (W.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0048-0002 PDF | Detail
Order [Re: Motions to Compel, for Protective Order, etc.] 09/26/2005 (W.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0048-0003 PDF | Detail
[Protective] Order 09/26/2005 (W.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0048-0004 PDF | Detail
Order [Denying Plaintiff's Motion for Production of Docs] 01/04/2006 (2006 WL 3858475) (W.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0048-0009 PDF | WESTLAW | Detail
Order [Granting Motion to Compel] 03/20/2006 (W.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0048-0005 PDF | Detail
[Order Affirming Order of 01/04/06] 04/17/2006 (2006 WL 3872844 / 2006 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 94775) (W.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0048-0010 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Order [Re: Plaintiff's Motion to Compel] 05/22/2006 (2006 WL 1455484) (W.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0048-0011 PDF | WESTLAW | Detail
Opinion [Motion for Protective Order; Motion to Compel] 06/26/2006 (2006 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 42984) (W.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0048-0015 PDF | LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: LexisNexis
Order [Motion to Compel, Motion for Protective Order] 08/09/2006 (W.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0048-0006 PDF | Detail
Order [Re: Depositions, Witnesses, etc.] 10/12/2006 (2006 WL 2927852 / 2006 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 74356) (W.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0048-0012 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
[Order Vacating January, 2006 Order to Compel] 01/03/2007 (473 F.3d 413)
JC-NY-0048-0008 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Order [Denying Plaintiff's Motion to Compel] 06/12/2007 (2007 WL 1703832 / 2007 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 42528) (W.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0048-0013 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Opinion of District Court 10/31/2007 (2007 WL 3232096) (W.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0048-0014 PDF | WESTLAW | Detail
Decision and Order 06/11/2010 (269 F.R.D. 213) (W.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0048-0007 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Submission Regarding the Impact of the Florence Decision on the Pending Class Action 05/14/2012
JC-NY-0048-0017 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiff's Submission Regarding Procedural Posture of Present Action 05/23/2012
JC-NY-0048-0016 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Arcara, Richard Joseph (W.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0048-0007 | JC-NY-0048-9000
Cardamone, Richard J. (Second Circuit)
JC-NY-0048-0008
Curtin, John Thomas (W.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0048-0010 | JC-NY-0048-0013 | JC-NY-0048-0014
Jacobs, Dennis G. (Second Circuit)
JC-NY-0048-0008
Miner, Roger Jeffrey (Second Circuit, N.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0048-0008
Scott, Hugh B. (W.D.N.Y.) [Magistrate]
JC-NY-0048-0002 | JC-NY-0048-0003 | JC-NY-0048-0004 | JC-NY-0048-0005 | JC-NY-0048-0006 | JC-NY-0048-0011 | JC-NY-0048-0012 | JC-NY-0048-0015 | JC-NY-0048-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Barnett, Alexander E. (New York)
JC-NY-0048-0008 | JC-NY-0048-0009 | JC-NY-0048-0010 | JC-NY-0048-0011 | JC-NY-0048-0012 | JC-NY-0048-0014 | JC-NY-0048-0015 | JC-NY-0048-9000
Coler, Alexandra (District of Columbia)
JC-NY-0048-0008
Cuneo, Jonathan W. (District of Columbia)
JC-NY-0048-0001 | JC-NY-0048-0008
Jay, David G. (New York)
JC-NY-0048-0008 | JC-NY-0048-0009 | JC-NY-0048-0010 | JC-NY-0048-0011 | JC-NY-0048-0012 | JC-NY-0048-0014 | JC-NY-0048-0015 | JC-NY-0048-9000
Keach, Elmer Robert III (New York)
JC-NY-0048-0001 | JC-NY-0048-0008 | JC-NY-0048-0009 | JC-NY-0048-0010 | JC-NY-0048-0011 | JC-NY-0048-0012 | JC-NY-0048-0013 | JC-NY-0048-0014 | JC-NY-0048-0015 | JC-NY-0048-0016 | JC-NY-0048-0017 | JC-NY-0048-9000
LaDuca, Charles Joseph (District of Columbia)
JC-NY-0048-0001 | JC-NY-0048-0008 | JC-NY-0048-0009 | JC-NY-0048-0010 | JC-NY-0048-0011 | JC-NY-0048-0012 | JC-NY-0048-0014 | JC-NY-0048-0015 | JC-NY-0048-9000
Mason, Gary E. (District of Columbia)
JC-NY-0048-0001 | JC-NY-0048-0008
Menken, Bruce E. (New York)
JC-NY-0048-0001 | JC-NY-0048-0008 | JC-NY-0048-0009 | JC-NY-0048-0010 | JC-NY-0048-0011 | JC-NY-0048-0012 | JC-NY-0048-0014 | JC-NY-0048-0015 | JC-NY-0048-9000
Migliaccio, Nicholas A. (District of Columbia)
JC-NY-0048-0008 | JC-NY-0048-9000
Rozger, Jason J. (New York)
JC-NY-0048-0001 | JC-NY-0048-0008
Schneider, Charles A. (District of Columbia)
JC-NY-0048-0001
Schumann-McGhee, Bethany (New York)
JC-NY-0048-9000
Thompson, Brendan S (Maryland)
JC-NY-0048-9000
Warren, Alexandra C. (District of Columbia)
JC-NY-0048-0014 | JC-NY-0048-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Boron, Eric T. (New York)
JC-NY-0048-0013
D'Agostino, Thomas C. (New York)
JC-NY-0048-0002 | JC-NY-0048-0009 | JC-NY-0048-0010 | JC-NY-0048-0011 | JC-NY-0048-0012 | JC-NY-0048-0014 | JC-NY-0048-0015 | JC-NY-0048-9000
Domagalski, James Paul (New York)
JC-NY-0048-0009 | JC-NY-0048-0010 | JC-NY-0048-0011 | JC-NY-0048-0012 | JC-NY-0048-0014 | JC-NY-0048-0015 | JC-NY-0048-9000
Driscoll, Michael C. (New York)
JC-NY-0048-9000
Gaglione, Frank T. (New York)
JC-NY-0048-0002 | JC-NY-0048-0008 | JC-NY-0048-0009 | JC-NY-0048-0011 | JC-NY-0048-0012 | JC-NY-0048-0013 | JC-NY-0048-0014 | JC-NY-0048-0015 | JC-NY-0048-9000
Kirkpatrick, Thomas F Jr. (New York)
JC-NY-0048-9000
Parker, Michelle M (New York)
JC-NY-0048-9000
Schapp, Jonathan (New York)
JC-NY-0048-9000
Wheaton, Kristin Klein (New York)
JC-NY-0048-0009 | JC-NY-0048-0010 | JC-NY-0048-0011 | JC-NY-0048-0012 | JC-NY-0048-0014 | JC-NY-0048-0015 | JC-NY-0048-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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