On March 28, 2005, attorneys from several law firms in Kentucky filed a class action civil rights lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, challenging the strip search policy of the Franklin County Correctional Complex in Kentucky. Plaintiffs, who were females arrested for minor offenses, alleged that they were strip searched pursuant to a blank policy which required all female pretrial detainees entering the Complex to be strip searched, without any reasonable suspicion to believe the detainees were concealing weapons or contraband. Plaintiffs alleged that the policy violated the Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and sought monetary damages, injunctive relief and class certification.
Note that this case, Black v. Franklin County, followed a 1997 class action lawsuit styled Wilson v. Franklin County, KY (JC-KY-13), which also challenged the strip search policy of Franklin County Correctional Complex. The Wilson case settled in 1999.
On April 6, 2005, plaintiffs in the Black case filed a motion to certify the case as a class action. Plaintiffs later withdrew the motion pending further discovery, with consent of the defendants, and filed an amended complaint adding 24 new plaintiffs. Defendants then moved to dismiss the case on various grounds, including (1) plaintiffs' claims were barred by the one-year statute of limitations, (2) under the Prison Litigation Reform Act ("PLRA") for failure to exhaust administrative remedies prior to filing suit, (3) individual defendants were entitled to qualified immunity, and (4) failure to state a claim. The District Court (District Judge Joseph M. Hood) granted the motion in part and dismissed the claims of 11 of the Plaintiffs on statute of limitations and PLRA exhaustion grounds. The Court also dismissed the Ninth Amendment and equal protection claims of the remaining 16 plaintiffs, except for plaintiff Black's equal protection claim. Black v. Franklin County, Kentucky, 2005 WL 1993445 (E.D. Ky. Aug 16, 2005).
Discovery ensued. The case was reassigned on January 6, 2006, to District Judge Karen K. Caldwell for all further proceedings. On February 22, 2006, the defendants moved to strike the class action allegations from plaintiffs' amended complaint. Judge Caldwell denied the motion, but set a deadline for filing plaintiffs' motion for class certification. Black v. Franklin County, Ky., 2006 WL 2849863 (E.D. Ky. Sep 28, 2006).
Plaintiffs filed a second amended complaint on December 29, 2006 and then moved for class certification. Defendants opposed certification and, in turn, moved for summary judgment. Prior to ruling on those motions, the plaintiffs attended a settlement conference on May 22, 2007, with Magistrate Judge J. Gregory Wehrman and settled the case. Judge Caldwell had dismissed several plaintiffs from the case for failing to comply with discovery orders. The remaining plaintiffs and the defendants, who settled, filed an agreed order of dismissal which was approved on August 20, 2007. The parties agreed to pay their own costs and attorney fees. Further details of the settlement were not disclosed.Dan Dalton - 03/01/2008