On November 1, 2000, a juvenile who had been arrested for violating curfew filed a civil rights class action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of South Dakota, challenging the Minnehaha County Juvenile Detention Center policy of strip-searching all juveniles admitted to the Detention Center, without any reasonable suspicion that the juveniles were concealing weapons or contraband. Plaintiff sought damages and injunctive relief. The County and individual County officials denied the allegations and argued that the individual officials were entitled to qualified immunity.
On March 20, 2002, the District Court (Judge Lawrence L. Piersol) certified the case as a class action, establishing a damages class and an injunctive relief class, consisting of: "All persons ... who, when they were under the age of eighteen years, were charged with minor offenses at any time on or after November 1, 1997 and up to a date in the future to be set by the Court, or who were charged with non-felony offenses at any time on or after April 16, 1999 and up to a date in the future to be set by the Court, and were strip searched at the Minnehaha County Juvenile Detention Center."
After discovery, the parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment on the Fourth Amendment claim. The District Court (Judge Piersol) entered summary judgment in favor of plaintiffs on the Fourth Amendment claim and denied the individual officials' motion for summary judgment on qualified immunity grounds. Smook v. Minnehaha County, 340 F. Supp. 2d 1037 (D.S.D. 2004). Reconsideration was denied. Smook v. Minnehaha County, S.D., 353 F.Supp. 2d 1059 (D.S.D. 2005), and the defendants appealed.
On appeal, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed and remanded, holding that (1) the search of the named plaintiff, requiring her to strip to her undergarments, was not a full strip search and did not violate the Fourth Amendment; (2) county officials were immune from suit even if the search was deemed illegal, because it did not vindicate a clearly established right; and (3) the plaintiff class lacked standing to seek injunctive relief. Since the claim of the named plaintiff was dismissed, the case was remanded to the District Court to determine whether the class should be redefined or decertified and whether there was an adequate class representative to replace the named plaintiff. Smook v. Minnehaha County, 457 F.3d 806 (8th Cir.(S.D.) Aug 09, 2006), rehearing and rehearing en banc denied (Sep 27, 2006). Plaintiff's petition for certiorari was denied. Smook v. Minnehaha County, S.D., 127 S.Ct. 1885 (2007).
On remand, the plaintiffs added three additional individuals as named plaintiffs for the class. In an effort to avoid having to litigate the case again, the two sides agreed to a monetary settlement. The agreement included a payment of $450,000 by the defendants, including $182,500 in attorneys' fees and $182,500 to be divided among members of the class.Dan Dalton - 03/03/2008
Jonathan Forman - 06/30/2013