On June 9, 2005, seven plaintiffs, represented by attorneys with the Florida Justice Institute, filed a 42 U.S.C. §1983 class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, challenging the allegedly unconstitutional practice of subjecting all non-felony arrestees ...
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On June 9, 2005, seven plaintiffs, represented by attorneys with the Florida Justice Institute, filed a 42 U.S.C. §1983 class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, challenging the allegedly unconstitutional practice of subjecting all non-felony arrestees booked into the John E. Polk Correctional Facility (a/k/a "the Seminole County Jail") to strip and visual body cavity searches prior to their first appearance before a judge. All but one of the named plaintiffs had been arrested for failure to appear at court appointments for non-violent crimes and all named plaintiffs were strip searched pursuant to the County's blanket strip search policy. Plaintiffs initially alleged that the blanket strip search policy violated the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, as well as Florida state law. On August, 2, 2005, Plaintiffs amended the complaint in order to further challenge, under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, the defendants' practice of allegedly over-detaining persons who had been ordered to be immediately released by a judge. On August 2, 2005, an eighth named plaintiff was added to the complaint and, on April 20, 2006 the complaint was again amended to add a ninth named plaintiff. Plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief, monetary and punitive damages, and class certification.
The County and Sheriff answered the complaint by denying all allegations. They also maintained that, shortly after the December 3, 2004 incident involving the majority of the named Plaintiffs, the Sheriff revised its strip search policy. The new policy became effective on August 30, 2005.
The County and the Sheriff moved to dismiss the case. The Court denied the defendants' motion to dismiss as to the Fourth Amendment strip search claim, but dismissed Plaintiffs' state law strip search claim and their over-detention claim. Parilla v. Eslinger, 2005 WL 3288760 (M.D.Fla. Dec 05, 2005).
Following discovery, the case was submitted to mediation. Shortly after mediation, the case was settled. Under the terms of the settlement, which was approved by Judge Gregory A. Presnell on May 24, 2007, the 9 representative plaintiffs received a total of $360,000. Defendants also agreed to pay each verified Settlement Class Member (SCM) up to $1800. The parties estimated that there were between 6 and 19 potential SCMs. In addition, $206,000 was paid as attorneys' fees, costs and expenses.Dan Dalton - 01/31/2008