On November 7, 1996, on behalf of two named plaintiffs, Chicago attorney Thomas G. Morrissey filed a civil rights lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, challenging the Cook County Sheriff's policy of strip searching female pretrial detainees upon returning to the Cook County Jail 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. Plaintiffs alleged that the searches violated their rights under the Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and Illinois state law. They sought monetary damages, injunctive relief and class certification.
On March 17, 1997, the District Court (District Judge David H. Coar) entered a preliminary injunction, prohibiting the Sheriff's alleged strip search practice. The case was certified as a class action on April 10, 1997, with the class defined as: "All female inmates who have been or will be subjected to a strip search at the Cook County Department of Corrections (Jail) upon returning to the Jail from court after there is a judicial determination that there is no longer a basis for their detention, other than to be processed for release."
Litigation in the case continued over the next 5 years, with the District Court issuing a number of mostly electronically-published opinions. These include Gary v. Sheahan, 1997 WL 201590 (N.D. Ill. Apr 18, 1997) (granting the Sheriff's motion to dismiss in part as to plaintiffs' claims under the Fifth, Eighth, and Ninth Amendment); Gary v. Sheahan, 1998 WL 245875 (N.D. Ill. May 04, 1998) (NO. 96 C 7294) (denying plaintiffs' motion to show cause to hold the Sheriff in contempt for violating the preliminary injunction); Gary v. Sheahan, 1998 WL 249225 (N.D. Ill. May 04, 1998) (denying motion to bar plaintiffs from taking Sheriff Sheahan's deposition); Gary v. Sheahan, 1998 WL 547116 (N.D. Ill. Aug 20, 1998) (granting summary judgment in favor of plaintiffs on their Fourteenth Amendment Equal Protection claim and Fourth Amendment search and seizure claim); Gary v. Sheahan, 1999 WL 703628 (N.D. Ill. Aug 26, 1999) (awarding plaintiffs interim attorneys' fees in the amount of $367,539.08 and costs of $56,434.80); Gary v. Sheahan, 1999 WL 281347 (N.D. Ill. Mar 31, 1999) (denying the Sheriff's motion to decertify the class) (the Sheriff's appeal of this denial was dismissed as untimely in Gary v. Sheahan, 188 F.3d 891 (7th Cir. 1999) (Circuit Judge Frank H. Easterbrook)); Gary v. Sheahan, 1999 WL 1021040 (N.D. Ill. Nov 03, 1999) (entering permanent injunction prohibiting the Sheriff from strip searching female inmate court returnees who have been judicially discharged from the Cook County Department of Corrections); Gary v. Sheahan, 2000 WL 889785 (N.D. Ill. Jun 26, 2000) (granting plaintiffs interim attorneys' fees in the amount of $257,786 .60 and costs of $26,412.05); Gary v. Sheahan, 2001 WL 1155087 (N.D. Ill. Sep 27, 2001) (award of $183,372.43 in interim fees and $64,462.97 in interim costs); and Gary v. Sheahan, 2001 WL 1543514 (N.D. Ill. Nov 30, 2001) (awarding plaintiffs' attorneys fees in the amount of three million dollars and an award of costs in the amount of $45,398.81 for work in the cases Gary v. Sheahan, 96 C 7294; Wilkes v. Sheahan, 01 C 1592; Wells v. Sheahan, 95 C 5918; and Quarrels v. Sheahan, 96 C 1215, less the credit due defendant of $875,337.35 for prior payments of interim attorneys' fees)
The case was ultimately settled in 2001 for $6.8825 million. Of that amount, 6 class representative were to receive incentive payments of $25,000 each. Cook County agreed to pay plaintiffs' attorneys fees as ordered by the Court, in addition to the $6.8825 million.
The Court preliminarily approved the settlement on July 18, 2001 and issued an order of final judgment after a fairness hearing on September 18, 2001. Settlement disbursement continued through the end of 2002. We have no information about further activity in the case.Dan Dalton - 03/03/2008