University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Suon v. County of Alameda JI-CA-0019
Docket / Court 3:07-cv-01770-MJJ ( N.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Juvenile Institution
Special Collection Strip Search Cases
Case Summary
On March 28, 2007, juvenile prisoners of the Alameda County Juvenile Hall filed a class action civil rights lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, challenging the policies, practices, and customs concerning the use of strip searches ... read more >
On March 28, 2007, juvenile prisoners of the Alameda County Juvenile Hall filed a class action civil rights lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, challenging the policies, practices, and customs concerning the use of strip searches and visual body cavity searches in the Hall. The named plaintiffs were all juveniles who alleged that they were arrested for petty offenses and then repeatedly subjected to strip searches and/or visual body cavity searches. The searches were allegedly performed pursuant to the official Alameda County Juvenile Hall policy, in which officers routinely subjected detainees in their custody to strip and visual body cavity searches before they were arraigned and without having any reasonable suspicion that the juveniles possessed contraband or weapons. That strip search policy, plaintiffs alleged, violated the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments and California state law. Plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief, monetary damages, and class certification. The County and the other individually named defendants filed answer generally denying all allegations.

On August 22, 2008, the Court (Judge Maxine M. Chesney) approved a preliminary order granting class certification and approving of the parties' Consent Decree. In the Consent Decree, the Defendant agreed to revise its strip search policy to be in compliance with state and federal law, and to pay damages of up to $4,286,660 to the Plaintiff Class who choose to file claims for damages. The Defendant also agreed to pay $1,000,000 in attorneys fees and up to $250,000 for costs associated with the litigation.

The Court officially entered judgment on February 27, 2009 and dismissed the case with prejudice.

Joshua Arocho - 06/27/2012


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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) Alameda County Juvenile Hall
County of Alameda
Plaintiff Description Juveniles subjected to pre-hearing strip searches without reasonable suspicion that searches would be productive of contraband or weapons and/or those subjected to searches in groups where they could view/be viewed by other juveniles.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2009
Case Ongoing No
Docket(s)
3:07-cv-01770-MMC (N.D. Cal.) 02/27/2009
JI-CA-0019-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint 03/28/2007
JI-CA-0019-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Joint Case Management Statement 07/17/2007
JI-CA-0019-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order for Preliminary Approval of Settlement of Class Action 08/28/2008 (N.D. Cal.)
JI-CA-0019-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order and Judgment of Dismissal 02/27/2009 (N.D. Cal.)
JI-CA-0019-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Chesney, Maxine M. (N.D. Cal.)
JI-CA-0019-0003 | JI-CA-0019-0004 | JI-CA-0019-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Merin, Mark E. (California)
JI-CA-0019-0001 | JI-CA-0019-0002 | JI-CA-0019-9000
Williams, Cathleen A. (California)
JI-CA-0019-0002
Defendant's Lawyers Rockwell, Gregory James (California)
JI-CA-0019-0002 | JI-CA-0019-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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