University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
new search
page permalink
Case Name Bull v. County of Sacramento JC-CA-0043
Docket / Court 01AS01545 ( State Court )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Special Collection Strip Search Cases
Case Summary
Plaintiff filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. §1983 in California state court challenging the Sacramento County Jail's policy of strip-searching all detainees, regardless of charges. Plaintiff was arrested on misdemeanor charges for protesting at a hearing where the Forestry Department was discussing ... read more >
Plaintiff filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. §1983 in California state court challenging the Sacramento County Jail's policy of strip-searching all detainees, regardless of charges. Plaintiff was arrested on misdemeanor charges for protesting at a hearing where the Forestry Department was discussing cutting down trees on private property. She was taken to jail and subjected to a strip search, including a videotaped body cavity search. She subsequently filed a state court class action suit against the sheriff and county, alleging privacy and other civil rights violations.

On March 14, 2000, the Sacramento County Superior Court (Judge Thomas Cecil), certified the class. The court granted summary judgment to the plaintiffs on the privacy rights issue in January 2003, awarding each class member was awarded the greater amount between actual damages or $1,000. (The court ruled for defendant on the §1983 claim, finding that the sheriff had immunity from suit.)

Defendants appealed, seeking to have the class action decertified and reversal on the summary judgment decision. While that appeal was pending, Sacramento County changed its search policy.

The private attorney for the plaintiff then brought a similar §1983 class action in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, but the court refused to allow any plaintiffs who were included in the state court class.

The parties then reached a settlement, which they submitted to the superior court in June 2004. The court (Judge Richard Park) approved it preliminarily that same month, setting a fairness hearing for October 2004. Judge Park gave final approval to the settlement on October 22, 2004. According to news reports, eventually over 4300 claims were submitted. Attorney Mark Merin received a $3 million dollar fee; $500,000 was allocated to claim administration. The 7 named plaintiffs split $410,000. Most other plaintiffs received between $1000 and $3500; about 1000 claimed more because of psychological injury they suffered. In the end, defendants' total payout was about $15 million.

Margo Schlanger - 07/14/2007


compress summary

- click to show/hide ALL -
Issues and Causes of Action
click to show/hide detail
Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Male
General
Search policies
Strip search policy
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) County of Sacramento
Plaintiff Description People booked at the Sacramento County Main Jail between March 14, 2000, and June 6, 2003, on an infraction or misdemeanor offense or felony offense not involving violence, drugs or weapons and subjected to a strip search before arraignment.
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
click to show/hide detail
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)
C043944 (State Court of Appeals) 05/29/2003
JC-CA-0043-9003 PDF | Detail
C043989 (State Court of Appeals) 08/26/2003
JC-CA-0043-9002 PDF | Detail
2:03-cv-01795-FCD-PAN (E.D. Cal.) 01/29/2004
JC-CA-0043-9001 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
2:03-cv-00458-FCD-PAN (E.D. Cal.) 01/13/2005
JC-CA-0043-9000 PDF | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Memorandum and Order [Re: Motion to Dismiss] 07/23/2003 (E.D. Cal.)
JC-CA-0043-0007 PDF | Detail
Stipulated Motion for Preliminary Approval of Provisional Settlement Class and Settlement of Class Action 06/04/2004
JC-CA-0043-0002 PDF | Detail
Order for Preliminary Approval of Settlement of Class Action 06/09/2004
JC-CA-0043-0005 PDF | Detail
Class Action Notice and Claim Form 09/30/2004
JC-CA-0043-0001 PDF | Detail
Order for Dismissal with Prejudice 01/12/2005 (E.D. Cal.)
JC-CA-0043-0008 PDF | Detail
Judges Cecil, Thomas (State Trial Court)
JC-CA-0043-0002
Damrell, Frank C. Jr. (E.D. Cal.)
JC-CA-0043-0007 | JC-CA-0043-0008 | JC-CA-0043-9000 | JC-CA-0043-9001
Nowinski, Peter A. (E.D. Cal.) [Magistrate]
JC-CA-0043-9000
Park, Richard K. (State Trial Court)
JC-CA-0043-0005
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Cable, Keith Daniel (California)
JC-CA-0043-9001
Merin, Mark E. (California)
JC-CA-0043-0001 | JC-CA-0043-0002 | JC-CA-0043-0005 | JC-CA-0043-0007 | JC-CA-0043-0008 | JC-CA-0043-9000
Schwarzschild, Jeffrey I. (California)
JC-CA-0043-0002 | JC-CA-0043-0005 | JC-CA-0043-0008
Defendant's Lawyers Cassidy, Terence J (California)
JC-CA-0043-0001 | JC-CA-0043-0002 | JC-CA-0043-0007 | JC-CA-0043-0008 | JC-CA-0043-9000 | JC-CA-0043-9001
Dority, Avery Emil (California)
JC-CA-0043-0007 | JC-CA-0043-9000
Nourot, Keith E. (California)
JC-CA-0043-0002 | JC-CA-0043-0008 | JC-CA-0043-9001
Other Lawyers None on record

- click to show/hide ALL -

new search
page permalink

- top of page -