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Case Name Joan W. v. City of Chicago JC-IL-0021
Docket / Court 83 C 327 ( N.D. Ill. )
State/Territory Illinois
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Special Collection Strip Search Cases
Case Summary
In 1983, Plaintiff filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the City of Chicago in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Plaintiff, represented by private counsel, asked for compensatory damages. Plaintiff alleged her constitutional rights were violated ... read more >
In 1983, Plaintiff filed a lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the City of Chicago in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Plaintiff, represented by private counsel, asked for compensatory damages. Plaintiff alleged her constitutional rights were violated when she was strip-searched.

According to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, 771 F.2d 1020 (7th Cir. 1985), Plaintiff was arrested for a traffic violation on January 28, 1978. Five female police employees ("the matrons") strip-searched Plaintiff according to a City of Chicago policy. Plaintiff was forced to expose her vaginal and anal areas and the matrons threatened her when she initially refused to comply, used vulgar language, and laughed at her. Plaintiff alleged that she suffered resulting psychic trauma and emotional distress.

Defendant conceded liability because the strip-search policy had been found unconstitutional in Mary Beth G. v. City of Chicago, 723 F.2d 1263 (7th Cir. 1983). The jury awarded Plaintiff $112,000 in compensatory damages. The Court (Judge Susan Getzendanner) denied Defendant's motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict or remittitur. Defendant appealed.

On August 26, 1985, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals (Judges Luther M. Swygert, Jesse E. Eschbach, and Richard Posner) found that the Court did not commit reversible error by allowing Plaintiff's closing argument. The Court found that $112,000 in damages was excessive and directed a remittitur reducing the award to $75,000. Each party was directed to bear its own costs. 771 F.2d 1020 (7th Cir. 1985).

On March 19, 1986, the District Court (Judge Getzendanner) awarded Plaintiff $49,860.52 in attorney fees and costs. The District Court found that Plaintiff remained a substantial victor after appeal, justifying award of her attorney's fees. Joan W. v. City of Chicago, No. 83-327, 1986 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 27954 (N.D. Ill. March 19, 1986).

Docket: 83-C-327.

Shira Gordon - 03/17/2012


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
General
Strip search policy
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) City of Chicago
Plaintiff Description A female physician who was arrested for a traffic violation and then brought to jail and strip searched.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Damages
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 1986
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)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
Opinion 10/07/1985 (771 F.2d 1020)
JC-IL-0021-0001 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Memorandum Opinion and Order 03/19/1986 (1986 WL 4113 / 1986 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 27954) (N.D. Ill.)
JC-IL-0021-0002 PDF | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Judges Eschbach, Jesse Ernest (Seventh Circuit, N.D. Ind.)
JC-IL-0021-0001
Getzendanner, Susan Christine O'Meara (N.D. Ill.)
JC-IL-0021-0002
Posner, Richard Allen (Seventh Circuit)
JC-IL-0021-0001
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Carey, R. Peter (Illinois)
JC-IL-0021-0001
Swygert, Luther Merritt (Illinois)
JC-IL-0021-0001
Defendant's Lawyers Mitchell, Lynn K. (Illinois)
JC-IL-0021-0001
Other Lawyers None on record

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