University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Barnett v. County of Contra Costa JC-CA-0042
Docket / Court 3:04-cv-04437-TEH ( N.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Special Collection Strip Search Cases
Case Summary
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 ... read more >
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


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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
Defendant-type
Corrections
General
Search policies
Strip search policy
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action State law
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) County of Contra Costa
Plaintiff Description Those who were subjected by defendants to pre-arraignment strip and/or visual body cavity searches without defendants having, and recording in writing, a reasonable suspicion that the searches would be productive of contraband or weapons.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief 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 2011
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)
3:04-cv-05365-TEH (N.D. Cal.) 06/18/2007
JC-CA-0042-9001 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
3:04-cv-04437-TEH (N.D. Cal.) 03/18/2011
JC-CA-0042-9000 PDF | Detail
Non-PACER U.S. District Court Website
General Documents
Class Action Complaint 10/20/2004
JC-CA-0042-0001 PDF | Detail
First Amended Class Action Complaint 08/11/2005
JC-CA-0042-0002 PDF | Detail
Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part Plaintiffs Motion to Compel Discovery Responses [Docket No. 21] and Denying Plaintiff's Motion for Sanctions [Docket No. 23] 09/09/2005 (N.D. Cal.)
JC-CA-0042-0003 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff Morganelli's Claims 10/31/2005 (2005 WL 5095264 / 2005 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 44421) (N.D. Cal.)
JC-CA-0042-0011 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Order Granting Defendants' Motions to Strike and for Partial Summary Judgment, Denying Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification Without Prejudice, and Setting Further Case Management Conference 01/24/2007 (2007 WL 196678 / 2007 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 8131) (N.D. Cal.)
JC-CA-0042-0010 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANTS’ MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT 09/11/2009 (2009 WL 2969473) (N.D. Cal.)
JC-CA-0042-0004 PDF | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFFS’ MOTION FOR CLASS CERTIFICATION 11/03/2009 (N.D. Cal.)
JC-CA-0042-0005 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
THIRD AMENDED CLASS ACTION COMPLAINT AND DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL 06/21/2010
JC-CA-0042-0006 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
STIPULATION AND ORDER DISMISSING PLAINTIFF ADELINE CHAN’S CLAIMS AND SUCH PART OF THE CLASS THAT SHE REPRESENTS 06/24/2010 (N.D. Cal.)
JC-CA-0042-0009 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
JOINT APPLICATION FOR APPROVAL OF SETTLEMENT AND DISMISSAL OF COMPLAINT 03/15/2011
JC-CA-0042-0008 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
ORDER GRANTING SETTLEMENT AND DISMISSAL OF ACTION 03/18/2011 (N.D. Cal.)
JC-CA-0042-0007 PDF | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Henderson, Thelton Eugene (N.D. Cal.)
JC-CA-0042-0004 | JC-CA-0042-0005 | JC-CA-0042-0007 | JC-CA-0042-0009 | JC-CA-0042-0010 | JC-CA-0042-0011 | JC-CA-0042-9000 | JC-CA-0042-9001
Spero, Joseph C. (N.D. Cal.) [Magistrate]
JC-CA-0042-0003 | JC-CA-0042-9000
Zimmerman, Bernard S. Court not on record
JC-CA-0042-9001
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Merin, Mark E. (California)
JC-CA-0042-0001 | JC-CA-0042-0002 | JC-CA-0042-0006 | JC-CA-0042-0008 | JC-CA-0042-0009 | JC-CA-0042-0011 | JC-CA-0042-9000 | JC-CA-0042-9001
Schwartz, Andrew Charles (California)
JC-CA-0042-0001 | JC-CA-0042-0002 | JC-CA-0042-0006 | JC-CA-0042-0008 | JC-CA-0042-0009 | JC-CA-0042-0011 | JC-CA-0042-9000 | JC-CA-0042-9001
Schwarzschild, Jeffrey I. (California)
JC-CA-0042-0001 | JC-CA-0042-0002 | JC-CA-0042-9000
Seaton, Thomas Andrew (California)
JC-CA-0042-0011 | JC-CA-0042-9000 | JC-CA-0042-9001
Williams, Cathleen A. (California)
JC-CA-0042-0011 | JC-CA-0042-9000 | JC-CA-0042-9001
Defendant's Lawyers Belaga, Debra S. (California)
JC-CA-0042-0011 | JC-CA-0042-9000
Blechman, Noah G. (California)
JC-CA-0042-0011 | JC-CA-0042-9000
Fitzgerald, James V. III. (California)
JC-CA-0042-0011 | JC-CA-0042-9000 | JC-CA-0042-9001
Obstler, Peter (California)
JC-CA-0042-0008 | JC-CA-0042-0009 | JC-CA-0042-0011 | JC-CA-0042-9000
You, Jee Young (California)
JC-CA-0042-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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