University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Delandro v. County of Allegheny JC-PA-0024
Docket / Court 2:06-cv-00927-TFM-RCM ( W.D. Pa. )
State/Territory Pennsylvania
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Special Collection Strip Search Cases
Case Summary
On July 13, 2006, two individuals, individually and on behalf of others similarly situated, filed a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 class action lawsuit against Defendants Allegheny County in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, challenging the Allegheny County Bureau of Corrections' ... read more >
On July 13, 2006, two individuals, individually and on behalf of others similarly situated, filed a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 class action lawsuit against Defendants Allegheny County in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, challenging the Allegheny County Bureau of Corrections' policy and practice of strip-searching all individuals entering Allegheny County Jail (ACJ) who were placed in jail clothing, regardless of their criminal charge and without reasonable suspicion to believe they were concealing a weapon or contraband. Plaintiffs, through private counsel, filed their complaint on behalf of themselves and a purported class of thousands of others who were strip searched at ACJ after having been charged with minor criminal offenses.

Plaintiffs sought compensatory and punitive damages for themselves and all class members, as well as a declaratory judgment that Allegheny County's former policy and practice on strip searches was unconstitutional. Defendants answered the plaintiffs' complaint by requesting that the court either dismiss the case or grant the defendants summary judgment. The case was assigned to District Judge Terrence F. McVerry, who referred it to Magistrate Judge Robert C. Mitchell. Magistrate Mitchell recommended that the defendants' motion to dismiss be denied. District Judge McVerry adopted the recommendation and denied Defendants' motion to dismiss. Delandro v. County of Allegheny, 2007 WL 81061 (W.D.Pa. Jan 08, 2007).

On November 30, 2007, the plaintiffs moved for a preliminary injunction and class certification. In their motion for a preliminary injunction, the plaintiffs sought to enjoin the defendants from illegally strip-searching all pretrial detainees entering custody at ACJ in the absence of individualized reasonable suspicion. And in an Order dated March 18, 2008, the Court granted the plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction.

Upon the completion of discovery, the plaintiffs filed a motion for partial summary judgment on the issue of the constitutionality of the strip-search policy. The defendants responded to the plaintiffs' motion and filed their own motion for summary judgment, arguing in part that the search policy was justified by ACJ's need for security and safety. Defendants further sought summary judgment for those claims directed at the individually named defendants brought in their official capacity. On December 2, 2009, the Court granted the plaintiffs' partial motion for summary judgment of liability as to the County, and granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment as to the individual defendants. Following that order, the parties engaged in settlement negotiations, which ultimately resulted in a settlement agreement.

The settlement agreement recognized that the County had changed its policy to stop strip-searching all pretrial detainees on a blanket basis and to stop strip-searching misdemeanor detainees in the absence of reasonable suspicion of a weapon or contraband. The settlement agreement required all correction officers to have access to the policy and be trained on proper search policy. The settlement agreement also created a fund of three million dollars ($3,000,000.00) to compensate class members, and dictated that $18,000.00 will be requested for each of the two (2) class representatives. The Settlement Agreement provides that each class member who submits a timely claim form will be granted a pro rata share of the settlement fund in an amount not to exceed $3,000.00 per class member. Any undistributed funds will be donated to Neighborhood Legal Services Association of Allegheny County, PA.

Caitlin Howitt - 08/11/2011
Daniel Fryer - 02/15/2016


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Male
Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
Unreasonable search and seizure
General
Search policies
Strip search policy
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) County of Allegheny
Plaintiff Description All persons who have been/will be placed into the custody of the Allegheny Co. Jail after being charged with minor crimes and were/will be strip searched upon entry into the jail pursuant to the policy, custom and practice of County of Allegheny.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year n/a
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)
2:06-cv-00927-TFM-RCM (W.D. Pa.) 03/29/2013
JC-PA-0024-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint in Class Action 07/13/2006
JC-PA-0024-0002.pdf | Detail
First Amended Class Action Complaint 10/03/2006
JC-PA-0024-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Adopting Report and Recommendation [Regarding Defendants' Motion to Dismiss] 01/08/2007 (2007 WL 81061 / 2007 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 798) (W.D. Pa.)
JC-PA-0024-0016.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Second Amended Class Action Complaint 11/08/2007
JC-PA-0024-0007.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order of Court [Partially Granting Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment] 12/02/2009 (2009 WL 4723206) (W.D. Pa.)
JC-PA-0024-0012.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Notice of Settlement and Settlement Agreement 09/10/2010
JC-PA-0024-0014.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Order Granting Final Approval of Class Action Settlement and Judgment 05/24/2011 (2011 WL 2039099) (W.D. Pa.)
JC-PA-0024-0017.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Order 02/22/2013
JC-PA-0024-0015.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Fisher, D. Michael (Third Circuit)
JC-PA-0024-0015
McVerry, Terrence F. (W.D. Pa.)
JC-PA-0024-0012 | JC-PA-0024-0016 | JC-PA-0024-0017 | JC-PA-0024-9000
Mitchell, Robert C. (W.D. Pa.) [Magistrate]
JC-PA-0024-0016
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Barnett, Alexander E. (New York)
JC-PA-0024-0001 | JC-PA-0024-0002 | JC-PA-0024-0007 | JC-PA-0024-9000
Cuneo, Jonathan W. (District of Columbia)
JC-PA-0024-0001 | JC-PA-0024-0002 | JC-PA-0024-0007 | JC-PA-0024-0014
Keach, Elmer Robert III (New York)
JC-PA-0024-0001 | JC-PA-0024-0002 | JC-PA-0024-0007 | JC-PA-0024-0014 | JC-PA-0024-9000
LaDuca, Charles Joseph (District of Columbia)
JC-PA-0024-0007 | JC-PA-0024-0014 | JC-PA-0024-9000
Levin, Daniel C. (Pennsylvania)
JC-PA-0024-0001 | JC-PA-0024-0002 | JC-PA-0024-0007 | JC-PA-0024-0014 | JC-PA-0024-0016 | JC-PA-0024-9000
Mason, Gary E. (District of Columbia)
JC-PA-0024-0001 | JC-PA-0024-0002 | JC-PA-0024-0007 | JC-PA-0024-0014 | JC-PA-0024-9000
Migliaccio, Nicholas A. (District of Columbia)
JC-PA-0024-9000
Rihn, D. Aaron (Pennsylvania)
JC-PA-0024-0001 | JC-PA-0024-0002 | JC-PA-0024-0007 | JC-PA-0024-0014 | JC-PA-0024-0016 | JC-PA-0024-9000
Warren, Alexandra C. (Virginia)
JC-PA-0024-0007 | JC-PA-0024-9000
Weeber, Scott C (Pennsylvania)
JC-PA-0024-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Gabriel, J. Deron (Pennsylvania)
JC-PA-0024-9000
Maravich, Craig E. (Pennsylvania)
JC-PA-0024-0014 | JC-PA-0024-9000
Wojcik, Michael H. (Pennsylvania)
JC-PA-0024-0014 | JC-PA-0024-9000
Zacharia, Carl B. (Pennsylvania)
JC-PA-0024-0016 | JC-PA-0024-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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