On April 25, 2000, three named plaintiffs represented by attorneys from several law firms in Louisiana and Kentucky filed this class action civil rights lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the United States District Court the Eastern District of Louisiana, challenging the strip and visual body cavity search policy of the Orleans Parish Jail in Louisiana. The plaintiffs, who were arrested for minor offenses, alleged that they were strip searched pursuant to a blanket policy of the Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff's Office. The policy required all pretrial detainees entering the jail to be strip searched, without reasonable suspicion to believe the detainees were concealing weapons or contraband. The plaintiffs alleged that the policy violated the Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and sought monetary damages, injunctive relief, and attorneys' fees. The plaintiffs moved for class certification on the injunctive and damages claims.
The parties consented to Magistrate Judge Alma Chasez hearing the case.
Initial discovery proceeded and, on January 14, 2002, the District Court (Judge Chasez) entered a Consent Decree agreed upon by the parties as to the injunctive claims. Under the Decree, the Sheriff agreed to end the challenged blanket strip search policy and issued a new policy, which allowed for the strip search of new arrestees charged with minor offenses only when reasonable suspicion existed to believe the arrestee possessed weapons or contraband. Prior to initiating the strip search under the new policy, deputies were required to fill out an agreed-upon form (Arrestee Strip Search Log) and obtain a supervisor's approval. An injunctive class was certified pursuant to the Consent Decree. A Supplemental Consent Decree was entered on May 16, 2002, under which the Sheriff agreed to install "changing booths" for men and women so that they could change their clothes in privacy when ordered to do so.
Litigation of the case continued on the damage claims. Per the agreement of the parties, Magistrate Judge Chasez certified the case as a class action for liability purposes only, by order dated January 3, 2003. While trial preparation continued, the parties began settlement discussions, which continued in an on-again/off-again fashion for years until a proposed Settlement Agreement was reached. Under the Agreement, the Sheriff agreed to pay $9.375 million, plus interest earned since June 2, 2004, to settle all class damage claims. The settlement class members included every person arrested only on "minor offenses" who entered
the Intake and Processing Center operated by the Sheriff and who fit into one of 3 subclasses:
Sub-Class A: Those subjected to strip and visual body cavity searches in the presence of deputies and/or other prisoners from April 25, 1999 through February 14, 2002.
Sub-Class B: Those subjected to strip searches when being ordered to change into jail clothes in the presence of deputies and/or other prisoners from February 15, 2002 through May 31, 2002.
Sub-Class C: Those subjected to strip searches when ordered to take off jail garments, in the presence of deputies and/or other prisoners, while being admitted to Templeman III from the Intake Center from June 1, 2002 through May 31, 2003.
Payments to individual class members would be calculated on a point system: 3 points for Sub-Class A, 1 point for Sub-Class B, and 1.5 points for Sub-Class C. Class representatives received incentive awards ranging from $5,000 to $20,000, based on their involvement and participation. Class counsel were to request an award of attorneys' fees in the amount of 35% of the settlement fund, plus expenses.
Judge Chasez preliminarily approved the settlement on January 11, 2007 and held a fairness hearing on September 13, 2007. The final judgment approving the settlement was filed on July 17, 2008.
On February 3, 2010, one of the plaintiffs filed a motion to dismiss "the appeal" but did not explain what appeal they wanted dismissed. On February 19, 2010, the court denied the plaintiff's motion because there was no appeal to be dismissed. The plaintiff appealed this decision on March 1, 2010. Again, the appeal was denied. The plaintiff filed a motion to reconsider on June 29, 2015, which was also denied. Dan Dalton - 02/29/2008
Katherine Reineck - 02/14/2016