On April 4, 2012, a pre-trial detainee in the Cook County Jail filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The plaintiff sued the Sheriff of Cook County and Cook County under 42 U.S.C. §1983. The plaintiff, represented by private counsel, asked the court ...
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On April 4, 2012, a pre-trial detainee in the Cook County Jail filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The plaintiff sued the Sheriff of Cook County and Cook County under 42 U.S.C. §1983. The plaintiff, represented by private counsel, asked the court for injunctive and monetary relief, claiming violations the Fourth Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process Clause. The plaintiff claimed that Cook County had a practice of “holding in custody or imprisoning free citizens following a trial” at which the citizen is found not guilty or acquitted. Such individuals were often returned to the general jail population and the plaintiff Otero alleged he was beaten up by other inmates who learned he would soon be released.
The plaintiff made a motion for class certification of those who had similarly been unlawfully detained. This motion was denied on December 20, 2013. The plaintiff amended his complaint to add a count for violation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. The plaintiff argued that female inmates were treated differently, as they were not returned to the general jail population after acquittal. After class certification discovery into the policies and practices of Cook County Jail, the plaintiff was granted class certification on September 2, 2014.
On October 30, 2015 both parties made motions for summary judgment. On January 7, 2016, Judge St. Eve denied defendants’ motion for summary judgment on plaintiffs' Fourth Amendment claim, Fourteenth Amendment substantive due process claim and Equal Protection claim. Judge St. Eve granted Cook County’s motion for summary judgment with respect to plaintiffs' Fourteenth Amendment procedural due process claim. The court denied plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment.
Discovery lasted several years, and the parties reached a settlement on February 18, 2016—the eve of trial. The settlement involved comprehensive injunctive relief and monetary damages to class members. Cook County agreed to implement a new policy that provides mechanisms for identifying potential discharges and ensures they are not returned to the general jail population. Within 90 days, the defendants had to implement these changes and file a status report to the court. The court retained jurisdiction over the implementation and enforcement of these procedures for 9 months. The class members were each awarded $100, the original plaintiff received $15,000 in a service award, and the attorneys were awarded $2,000,000.
This settlement was approved and ordered on August 11, 2016 and the 9-month injunction period is ongoing.Abigail DeHart - 09/29/2016