On February 8, 2005, private attorney Mark E. Merin filed a class action civil rights lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, challenging the policies, practices, and customs concerning the use of strip searches and visual body ...
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On February 8, 2005, private attorney Mark E. Merin filed a class action civil rights lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, challenging the policies, practices, and customs concerning the use of strip searches and visual body cavity searches in the Humboldt County Jail. The named plaintiff, who was a female citizen arrested for a DWI, alleged that she was forced to strip naked, such that she was nude from the waist up in the presence of male officers not involved in her search. The search was videotaped. Plaintiff alleged that her treatment was the result of the official Humboldt County Jail policy, in which officers routinely subjected detainees in their custody to strip and visual body cavity searches before they were arraigned and without having any reasonable suspicion that the detainees possessed contraband or weapons, in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments and California state law. Plaintiff sought declaratory and injunctive relief, monetary damages and class certification.
After the parties engaged in discovery, defendants moved for summary judgment. The District Court (Saundra Brown Armstrong) found that plaintiff failed to present any evidence of similar complaints, which negated that a custom or practice of improper searches existed at the Jail. As such, the Court granted summary judgment in favor of the County of Humboldt and its Sheriff on plaintiff's municipal liability claim. Spellman v. Humboldt County, 2006 WL 1626922 (N.D.Cal. Jun 09, 2006) Plaintiff appealed.
While the case was on appeal, plaintiff refiled the case, individually naming the deputy sheriff that conducted the strip search as a defendant. That new case, which was filed on June 27, 2006, had the new case number 3:06-cv-03956-MHP and was assigned to District Judge Marilyn H. Patel.
About three months later, the parties settled the matter. They filed a joint memorandum of voluntarily dismissal dated October 16, 2006, advising the Court that the parties mutually resolved their differences. Plaintiff also voluntarily dismissed the appeal of the 2005 case. The terms of the settlement were not made part of the Court record.Dan Dalton - 01/15/2008