On June 8, 2005, juveniles at Contra Costa County's Juvenile Hall filed this class action civil rights lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The plaintiffs challenged the Contra Costa County and Contra Costa County Probation Department policy of subjecting juveniles to multiple strip and/or visual body cavity searches. Represented by private attorneys, the plaintiffs alleged that pursuant to the defendants' policies, juvenile detainees in their custody were subjected to strip and visual body cavity searches before they appeared at a detention hearing and without having any reasonable suspicion that the searches would be productive of contraband or weapons. The plaintiffs sought monetary damages, declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as class certification.
The complaint was amended on September 16, 2005 and alleged claims for: 1) violation of Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments and 42 U.S.C. § 1983; 2) violation of California's Bane Act, California Civil Code section 52.1(a) and Unruh Civil Rights Act, California Civil Code section 52.1(b), based on alleged use of coercion to deprive Plaintiffs of their rights under article I, section 1, of the California Constitution and California Penal Code section 4030; 3) violation of California Penal Code section 4030.
The plaintiffs subsequently moved for class certification. The defendants opposed certification and moved for summary judgment.
On December 5, 2007, the District Court (Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero) denied defendants' motion for summary judgment as to the plaintiffs' federal claims, but dismissed the state law claims. Judge Spero certified the case as a class action, defining the class as:
Class One: All juveniles admitted and housed at Contra Costa County Juvenile Hall during the class period who were strip-searched at intake pursuant to defendants' blanket policy and practice of strip-searching all such juveniles prior to their detention hearings, except for: 1) those who were strip-searched at intake after being admitted for an alleged violation (felony or misdemeanor) involving violence, drugs, or weapons; 2) those who were strip-searched at intake because of a reasonable suspicion that such strip search would be productive of contraband; 3) those who had a prior history of being booked on offenses involving drugs, weapons, or violence; 4) those who were subject to parole or probationary search conditions at the time of the strip search; and 5) those who were transferred from another detention facility and thus were not under the constant supervision of a Contra Costa County employee.
Class Two: All juvenile arrestees in Class One who were strip-searched after visits or court appearances, prior to the detention hearing, during the class period.
The class period for both classes was defined as "all persons who are currently juveniles or who reached the age of majority within two years of filing this action and who were subjected to a strip search at Contra Costa County Juvenile Hall before September 15, 2005." Moyle v. County of Contra Costa, 2007 WL 4287315 (N.D.Cal. Dec 05, 2007).
In September 2009, the parties reached a settlement agreement, and on September 8, 2009, the court granted preliminary approval of the settlement. The defendants agreed to implement a revised search policy. The defendants agreed to pay $100,000 to the class representative and $800,000 in attorney's fees and costs. The defendants also agreed to pay a total of $700,000 for the claims of the class members in accordance with the claims processing procedure established in the settlement. The court retained jurisdiction to enforce the settlement.
In 2014, the parties negotiated and filed a motion to modify the order and judgment of dismissal regarding administration of the remaining funds for payments to class members. On April 29, 2014, the court granted in part and denied in part the motion. The court ordered the plaintiffs to file a status report in two years regarding their progress toward locating the remaining class members who had yet to be paid. The plaintiffs spent those two years searching for additional class members to be paid.
On April 4, 2016, the plaintiffs filed the requested status report. The plaintiffs had been able to locate and make payments to five additional class members, but roughly $13,000 remained in the fund. As of April 9, 2016, the court has not responded to the report with directions on where the remaining money should be donated. Dan Dalton - 03/10/2008
Jessica Kincaid - 04/09/2016