On October 20, 2004, a woman who had been subjected to a strip search after being charged with resisting arrest filed a class action civil rights lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, challenging the Contra Costa County Sheriff's policies, practices, and customs concerning the use of strip searches and visual body cavity searches in the Contra Costa County Jail. The plaintiff, represented by private counsel, alleged that she was arrested on March 1, 2004 for resisting arrest (misdemeanor) and was taken to Contra Costa County Jail in Martinez, California, where she subjected to a strip search and body cavity search. Plaintiff also alleged that she was compelled to produce a urine sample while being directly observed by male deputies. Plaintiff alleged that her search was conducted pursuant to the Contra Costa County Sheriff's blanket policy of subjecting all detainees in their custody to strip and visual body cavity searches before they were arraigned, regardless of whether any reasonable suspicion existed that the detainees possessed contraband or weapons. This policy, plaintiff alleged, violated the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments and California state law. Plaintiff sought declaratory and injunctive relief, monetary damages and class certification.
Plaintiff moved to certify a class consisting of "[a]ll persons, since October 20, 2002, and continuing until Defendants' prior custom and policy was brought into compliance with the law on June 1, 2003, or such other more recent date when the policy was implemented, who were arrested on any charge (including felonies) not involving weapons, controlled substances, or felony violence, and who were subjected to a uniform and indiscriminate (blanket) strip/visual body cavity search(es) by defendants before arraignment at the Contra Costa County Jails without any individualized reasonable suspicion that they were concealing contraband. This class may include arrestees who were subjected to subsequent blanket strip searches before arraignment after the initial strip search, without any reasonable individualized suspicion that they had subsequently acquired and hidden contraband on their persons."
Plaintiffs' amended complaint was filed on August 11, 2005, adding an additional representative plaintiff who was arrested on December 3, 2002 (prior to the June 1, 2003 policy change) for a felony DUI charge and then strip searched. Defendants moved to dismiss his claims as time barred. The District Court (District Judge Thelton E. Henderson) granted defendants' motion to dismiss, with respect to the individual's state law claim for monetary relief, but denied the motion as to his § 1983 claim for monetary, declaratory, and injunctive relief. Barnett v. County of Contra Costa, 2005 WL 5095264 (N.D. Cal. Oct 31, 2005).
On April 10, 2007, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, denied plaintiffs' request for an interlocutory appeal of the District Court's order. In June 2007, the district court held joint case management discussions concerning both individuals' cases.
On November 27, 2007, the plaintiffs were granted leave to file a second amended complaint, adding an additional individual as a representative plaintiff.
On September 11, 2009, the Court granted defendants' motion for summary judgment on plaintiff's state law claims, but denied summary judgment on the §1983 claim. On November 3, 2009, the Court granted plaintiff's motion for class certification.
On June 21, 2010, Plaintiffs filed a Third Amended Class Action Complaint. Three days later, the parties stipulated to dismissing the case with prejudice. The dismissal was agreed to pursuant to the Ninth Circuit's en banc decision in Bull v. City and County of San Francisco, 565 F.3d 964.
The parties eventually reached a settlement agreement that was approved by the Court on March 18, 2011. In this agreement, defendants agreed to pay $19,999 to one individual in return for her agreement to dismiss her claim with prejudice.Timothy Shoffner - 06/18/2012