University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Spinner v. City of New York JC-NY-0030
Docket / Court 1:01-cv-2715 ( E.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Special Collection Strip Search Cases
Case Summary
In 2001, private attorneys representing individual plaintiffs filed several civil rights lawsuits pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. The cases challenged allegedly improper strip searches and unsanitary and inhumane conditions of ... read more >
In 2001, private attorneys representing individual plaintiffs filed several civil rights lawsuits pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. The cases challenged allegedly improper strip searches and unsanitary and inhumane conditions of confinement at the Brooklyn Central Booking facility. Plaintiffs alleged that police had a blanket policy of strip searching all individuals who entered the Brooklyn Central Booking facility, regardless of the crime for which they were charged and without reasonable suspicion to believe that the individuals were concealing weapons or contraband. After being strip searched, detainees were allegedly placed in filthy, disease-ridden, and overcrowded jail cells. Plaintiffs asserted that the policy and conditions violated the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. They sought declaratory and injunctive relief, compensatory and punitive damages, and class certification for the thousands of individuals that suffered the same alleged indignities. Defendants answered by generally denying the allegations.

The lawsuits, which involved over 20 plaintiffs, were consolidated under the lead case, Spinner v. City of New York.

On October 6, 2003, the District Court (Senior District Judge Charles P. Sifton) certified the case as a class action, with the class defined as all persons since 1998 who (1) were charged with misdemeanor or non-criminal offenses in Kings County, (2) then were detained at the Brooklyn Central Booking, and (3) while detained, were subjected to strip searches without regard to the existence of probable cause or reasonable suspicion that the detainees possessed weapons or contraband. Plaintiffs' request for a preliminary injunction was denied. Plaintiffs subsequently withdrew their claims for injunctive relief and the Court issued an order decertifying the class on the injunctive relief claims.

Discovery and motion practice ensued, until the parties eventually reached a settlement of the case. Under the settlement, the City agreed to pay approximately $654,000 to settle claims of the 20 remaining plaintiffs. Approximately $323,000 of the total amount would be divided among the 20 plaintiffs (in varying amounts, ranging from approximately $12,250 to $21,500) and the remaining $331,000 would be award to plaintiffs' attorneys as fees. The District Court (Magistrate Judge Cheryl L. Pollak) approved the settlement on June 4, 2004.

We have no information showing post-settlement activity in the case.

Dan Dalton - 03/05/2008


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Male
General
Sanitation / living conditions
Search policies
Strip search policy
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Booklyn Central Booking Center
City of New York
Plaintiff Description All persons who since 1998 were charged with misdemeanors in Kings County, were detained in Brooklyn Central Booking and were subject to strip searching without reasonable suspicion and/or in the presence of onlookers of the opposite sex.
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
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2004
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)
1:01-cv-02715-CPS-CLP (E.D.N.Y.) 06/13/2005
JC-NY-0030-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Memorandum and Order 08/27/2003 (E.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0030-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum and Order 10/10/2003 (E.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0030-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Consolidated Complaint 12/22/2003
JC-NY-0030-0009.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Consolidation Letter 02/03/2004
JC-NY-0030-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Report and Recommendation 02/03/2004
JC-NY-0030-0010.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Report and Recommendation 03/16/2004
JC-NY-0030-0004.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Civil Cause for Status Conference 04/22/2004
JC-NY-0030-0007.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Stipulation and Order Decertifying the Injunctive Class 05/18/2004 (E.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0030-0005.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Correspondence 05/27/2004
JC-NY-0030-0008.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Stipulation and Order of Settlement and Discontinuance 06/09/2004 (E.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0030-0006.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Pollak, Cheryl L. (E.D.N.Y.) [Magistrate]
JC-NY-0030-0004 | JC-NY-0030-0006 | JC-NY-0030-0008 | JC-NY-0030-0010 | JC-NY-0030-9000
Sifton, Charles Proctor (E.D.N.Y.)
JC-NY-0030-0001 | JC-NY-0030-0002 | JC-NY-0030-0005 | JC-NY-0030-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Cardinale, Richard J. (New York)
JC-NY-0030-0003 | JC-NY-0030-0005 | JC-NY-0030-0006 | JC-NY-0030-0007 | JC-NY-0030-0008 | JC-NY-0030-0009 | JC-NY-0030-9000
Flamm, Matthew S. (New York)
JC-NY-0030-9000
Isseks, Robert Nathan (New York)
JC-NY-0030-0009 | JC-NY-0030-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Box, Ingrid Ursula (New York)
JC-NY-0030-9000
Scheiner, Alan H. (New York)
JC-NY-0030-0005 | JC-NY-0030-0006 | JC-NY-0030-0007 | JC-NY-0030-0008 | JC-NY-0030-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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