University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name Bullock v. Sheahan JC-IL-0039
Docket / Court 1:04-cv-01051 ( N.D. Ill. )
State/Territory Illinois
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Special Collection Strip Search Cases
Case Summary
On February 11, 2004, two named plaintiffs filed this civil rights lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. In their complaint (as amended nine days later), the plaintiffs challenged the Cook County Sheriff's policy of strip ... read more >
On February 11, 2004, two named plaintiffs filed this civil rights lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. In their complaint (as amended nine days later), the plaintiffs challenged the Cook County Sheriff's policy of strip searching all males following their return to the Cook County Jail from court after there was a judicial determination that there was no longer a basis for their detention. The plaintiffs also alleged that female detainees were not subjected to similar treatment, as they were placed in a holding cell after returning from court and processed out of the jail without being strip searched or re-entering the general housing units. The strip searches without reasonable suspicion and the differential treatment, the plaintiffs alleged, violated their rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. The plaintiffs sought monetary damages, injunctive relief and class certification.

The defendants generally denied the allegations and contended that the strip searches were necessary, for there was no space in the jail to construct additional bullpens to house the discharged male detainees so that they would not be required to enter the housing units and undergo strip searches.

On November 22, 2004, the District Court (District Judge Elaine Bucklo) certified the case as a class action, with the class defined as follows: all male inmates who, on or after February 12, 2002, have been subjected to defendants' policy, practice and custom of strip searching, without reasonable suspicion that the inmate is concealing a weapon or other contraband, at the Cook County Department of Corrections, following their return from court after there had been a judicial determination that there was no longer a basis for their detention, other than to be processed for release. Bullock v. Sheahan, 225 F.R.D. 227 (N.D. Ill. 2004).

Discovery ensued and included substantial document production, depositions and experts. The defendants sought to preclude the testimony of one of plaintiffs' retained experts, Donald Henry. Mr. Henry was a registered architect specializing in the design of prisons and jails and was retained by the plaintiffs to inspect the jail and offer an opinion whether there was adequate space for the construction of additional bullpens to hold male detainees. Judge Bucklo denied the motion. Bullock v. Sheahan, 519 F.Supp.2d 760 (N.D.Ill. 2007).

The plaintiffs moved for summary judgment on the following four claims:
  • The strip searching of all male court discharged persons and not all female court discharged persons violated the Equal Protection Clause.
  • The strip searching of all male court discharged persons in large non-private group settings, with up to fifty inmates, while the female court discharged persons who opted to return to the housing divisions were afforded privacy, violated the Equal Protection Clause.
  • The strip searching of all male court discharged persons not based upon reasonable suspicion that they were concealing contraband violated the Fourth Amendment.
  • The manner in which the strip searches were conducted, in large non-private group settings, violated the Fourth Amendment.
Defendants moved to strike portions of plaintiffs' motion (as to the second and fourth claim), asserting that plaintiffs were adding new theories of liability not pleaded in their amended complaint. Judge Bucklo denied the motion to strike, but allowed defendants to conduct additional discovery as to those claims. Bullock v. Sheahan, 519 F.Supp.2d 763 (N.D.Ill. 2007).

On July 30, 2008, the district court (Judge Bucklo) granted the plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment. The defendants filed a motion for reconsideration, and on February 27, 2009, Judge Bucklo partially granted that motion with respect to the portions of the earlier order that granted summary judgment to the plaintiffs on their Fourteenth Amendment claims and on some of their Fourth Amendment claims.

On March 18, 2011, the court approved a proposed class settlement. The court retained jurisdiction to enforce the terms of the settlement. The defendants agreed to pay $1.4 million to class members and roughly $2 million in attorney's fees and costs. The defendants also agreed to pay the two class representatives $25,000 as "incentive awards" for serving as the representatives. However, the defendants later discovered that one of the class representatives had certified that he had no legal claims of any value during bankruptcy proceedings in 2010, so he couldn't receive this incentive award. The agreed with the defendants and issued an opinion on May 23, 2011.

Over the next two years, the defendants paid claims submitted by class members. The court oversaw the payments and denied late claims and other challenges. The court terminated its jurisdiction over the case on September 1, 2012.

Note: There was another (separate) strip search case against the Cook County Sheriff in the same District Court. That case, Young v. Cook County, 1:06-cv-00552, alleged an unconstitutional practice of strip searching all pretrial detainees upon their entry in the Cook County Jail for intake/booking. See JC-IL-0009.

Dan Dalton - 03/02/2009
Jessica Kincaid - 04/07/2016


compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Issues
Affected Gender
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) Cook County Department of Corrections
Cook County Sheriff
Plaintiff Description All male inmates who, on or after 2/12/02, have been subjected a strip search, without reasonable suspicion that the inmate is concealing a weapon or other contraband, at the Cook County Department of Corrections after return from Court
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 Attorneys fees
Damages
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2012
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing JC-IL-0009 : Young v. County of Cook (N.D. Ill.)
Additional Resources
click to show/hide detail
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-01051 (N.D. Ill.) 04/20/2012
JC-IL-0039-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Amended Complaint 02/23/2004
JC-IL-0039-0001.pdf | Detail
Plaintiff's Memorandum in support of the Motion for Class Certification 05/19/2004
JC-IL-0039-0002.pdf | Detail
Opinion 11/22/2004 (225 F.R.D. 227) (N.D. Ill.)
JC-IL-0039-0009.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Opinion 08/28/2007 (519 F.Supp.2d 760) (N.D. Ill.)
JC-IL-0039-0007.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Memorandum Opinion and Order 11/05/2007 (519 F.Supp.2d 763) (N.D. Ill.)
JC-IL-0039-0008.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Memorandum Opinion and Order 07/30/2008 (568 F.Supp.2d 965) (N.D. Ill.)
JC-IL-0039-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Order 02/27/2009 (599 F.Supp.2d 947) (N.D. Ill.)
JC-IL-0039-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Class Settlement Agreement 11/16/2010
JC-IL-0039-0010.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order 03/18/2011 (N.D. Ill.)
JC-IL-0039-0006.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion 05/23/2011 (N.D. Ill.)
JC-IL-0039-0005.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Bucklo, Elaine E. (N.D. Ill.) [Magistrate]
JC-IL-0039-0001 | JC-IL-0039-0002 | JC-IL-0039-0003 | JC-IL-0039-0004 | JC-IL-0039-0005 | JC-IL-0039-0006 | JC-IL-0039-0007 | JC-IL-0039-0008 | JC-IL-0039-0009 | JC-IL-0039-9000
Schenkier, Sidney I. (N.D. Ind.) [Magistrate]
JC-IL-0039-0001 | JC-IL-0039-0002 | JC-IL-0039-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Farley, Robert Hugh Jr. (Illinois)
JC-IL-0039-0001 | JC-IL-0039-0002 | JC-IL-0039-0007 | JC-IL-0039-0008 | JC-IL-0039-0010 | JC-IL-0039-9000
Morrissey, Thomas Gerard (Illinois)
JC-IL-0039-0001 | JC-IL-0039-0002 | JC-IL-0039-0007 | JC-IL-0039-0008 | JC-IL-0039-0009 | JC-IL-0039-0010 | JC-IL-0039-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Blanchard, Patrick Malone (Illinois)
JC-IL-0039-0007 | JC-IL-0039-0008 | JC-IL-0039-0009 | JC-IL-0039-9000
Catania, Francis J. (Illinois)
JC-IL-0039-0010 | JC-IL-0039-9000
Driscoll, Patrick T. Jr. (Illinois)
JC-IL-0039-0001 | JC-IL-0039-0007 | JC-IL-0039-0008 | JC-IL-0039-0009 | JC-IL-0039-9000
Kelly, E. Michael (Illinois)
JC-IL-0039-0007 | JC-IL-0039-0008 | JC-IL-0039-0009 | JC-IL-0039-9000
Lyons, Thomas Vincent (Illinois)
JC-IL-0039-0009 | JC-IL-0039-9000
Marisco, Frank Joseph (Illinois)
JC-IL-0039-0007 | JC-IL-0039-0008 | JC-IL-0039-9000
Markey, Christopher J. (Illinois)
JC-IL-0039-0009 | JC-IL-0039-9000
Puiszis, Steven M. (Illinois)
JC-IL-0039-0002 | JC-IL-0039-0010
Quinn, Bernard E.J. (Illinois)
JC-IL-0039-0007 | JC-IL-0039-0008 | JC-IL-0039-0010 | JC-IL-0039-9000
Sandberg, Craig Michael (Illinois)
JC-IL-0039-9000
Shannon, Robert (Illinois)
JC-IL-0039-0002
Other Lawyers None on record

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -