University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Chatoian v. Marin County, California JC-CA-0020
Docket / Court C-04-2790-MJJ ( N.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Special Collection Strip Search Cases
Case Summary
On July 12, 2004, four female arrestees filed a 42 U.S.C. §1983 class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, challenging the Marin County Sheriff's policies, practices, and customs concerning the use of pre-arraignment strip and visual body cavity ... read more >
On July 12, 2004, four female arrestees filed a 42 U.S.C. §1983 class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, challenging the Marin County Sheriff's policies, practices, and customs concerning the use of pre-arraignment strip and visual body cavity searches in Marin County Jails. Plaintiffs, who had been arrested for minor criminal infractions, alleged that officers routinely subjected detainees to strip and visual body cavity searches prior to arraignment and in the absence of any reasonable suspicion that the detainees possessed contraband. Plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, claimed that such practice violated the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution as well as provisions of California state law. To remedy the alleged violations, Plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief, monetary damages, and class certification.

Later in 2004, Defendants moved to dismiss the suit on grounds that (a) Plaintiffs' claims were time barred and (b) Defendants were immune from liability. The District Court (Judge Mark J. Jenkins), by order dated December 14, 2004, granted Defendants' motion in part and denied it in part. Although the Court dismissed some of Plaintiffs' state law claims for failure to comply with the California Tort Claims Act, all of their federal law claims as well as several of their state law claims survived the motion to dismiss. Discovery ensued.

On January 1, 2006, the named defendants moved for summary judgment. Plaintiffs filed opposition papers, and the Court thereafter issued an order requesting supplemental briefing on the issues. Chatoian v. County of Marin, 2006 WL 568312 (N.D.Cal. Mar 03, 2006). After further briefing, the District Court granted summary judgment in favor of all named Defendants on all counts. The Court, however, did not enter summary judgment as to the unnamed individual defendants, who were identified as "Deputies for Does 1 through 25."

On June 5, 2007, Plaintiffs moved to amend the complaint to substitute the names of individual deputies for the unnamed Doe defendants. The Doe defendants objected to the proposed amendment, arguing that it was barred by the statute of limitations. On December 21, 2007, the District Court found that, because Plaintiffs had failed to comply with California law requiring that they serve the individual defendants with the lawsuit within three years of its initial filing, Plaintiffs' claims against the Doe defendants were time barred. As such, the Court denied Plaintiffs' request to amend its complaint and entered final judgment in favor of the Doe defendants. Chatoian v. County of Marin, 2007 WL 4557792, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 95438 (N.D.Cal. Dec 21, 2007).

On January 18, 2008, Plaintiffs appealed the Court's final judgment. On September 2, 2008, the Ninth Circuit was informed that the parties had reached a tentative settlement, and ordered the appellant to submit a motion or stipulation to dismiss. On September 18, 2008, the Ninth Circuit deemed the appeal voluntarily dismissed because the appellant failed to obey that order.

Timothy Shoffner - 06/07/2012


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Constitutional Clause
Unreasonable search and seizure
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
General
Disciplinary procedures
Search policies
Strip search policy
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action State law
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) County of Merin
Marin County Sheriff's Department
Plaintiff Description Those who since July 12, 2002 were subjected by defendants to pre-arraignment strip and/or visual body cavity searches without defendants having a reasonable suspicion that the searches would be productive of contraband or weapons.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Moot
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Form of Settlement Voluntary Dismissal
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2008
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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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)
3:04-cv-02790-MJJ (N.D. Cal.) 10/14/2008
JC-CA-0020-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint 07/12/2004
JC-CA-0020-0002 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part Defendant's Motion to Dismiss 12/12/2004 (N.D. Cal.)
JC-CA-0020-0003 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Amended Class Action Complaint 02/01/2005
JC-CA-0020-0004 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Notice of Motion and Motion for Summary Judgment 01/11/2006
JC-CA-0020-0001 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Re Supplemental Briefing on Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment 03/03/2006 (2006 WL 568312) (N.D. Cal.)
JC-CA-0020-0005 PDF | WESTLAW | Detail
Order Denying Plaintiffs' Motion to Amend and Granting Defendant's Motion to Strike/Dismiss 12/21/2007 (2007 WL 4557792 / 2007 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 95438) (N.D. Cal.)
JC-CA-0020-0006 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Judges Jenkins, Martin J. (N.D. Cal.)
JC-CA-0020-0003 | JC-CA-0020-0005 | JC-CA-0020-0006 | JC-CA-0020-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Merin, Mark E. (California)
JC-CA-0020-0002 | JC-CA-0020-0004 | JC-CA-0020-0005 | JC-CA-0020-0006 | JC-CA-0020-9000
Schwartz, Andrew Charles (California)
JC-CA-0020-0002 | JC-CA-0020-0004 | JC-CA-0020-0005 | JC-CA-0020-0006 | JC-CA-0020-9000
Schwarzschild, Jeffrey I. (California)
JC-CA-0020-0002 | JC-CA-0020-0004 | JC-CA-0020-0005 | JC-CA-0020-9000
Seaton, Thomas Andrew (California)
JC-CA-0020-0004 | JC-CA-0020-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Cassidy, Terence J (California)
JC-CA-0020-0001 | JC-CA-0020-0005 | JC-CA-0020-0006 | JC-CA-0020-9000
Nourot, Keith E. (California)
JC-CA-0020-0001
Other Lawyers None on record

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