University of Michigan Law School
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Case Name Boisselle v. County of Mercer JC-NJ-0011
Docket / Court 3:06-cv-02065-GEB-TJB ( D.N.J. )
State/Territory New Jersey
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Special Collection Strip Search Cases
Case Summary
On May 5, 2006, an individual who had been arrested on a minor criminal charge filed a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, alleging that the Mercer County Sheriff's Department had an unconstitutional blanket policy and/or practice of ... read more >
On May 5, 2006, an individual who had been arrested on a minor criminal charge filed a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, alleging that the Mercer County Sheriff's Department had an unconstitutional blanket policy and/or practice of strip searching all individuals who entered the Mercer County Jail, regardless of the criminal charge or absence of reasonable suspicion. Plaintiffs claimed that the practice violated the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and sought declaratory and injunctive relief, monetary and punitive damages, and class certification on behalf of thousands of similarly situated individuals. The County and the Sheriff answered by generally denying the allegations.

The case was assigned to Chief Judge Garrett E. Brown, Jr., who referred the case to Magistrate Judge Tonianne J. Bongiovanni to oversee discovery. On August 2, 2007, Magistrate Judge Bongiovanni referred the case to mediation and stayed all proceedings.

In November 2008, a settlement agreement was finalized between the parties and given preliminary approval by Judge Bongiovanni. On April 20, 2009, Judge Bongiovanni released an order granting final approval of the class action settlement. The settlement provided that the case be dismissed with prejudice and the claims against the defendants be dropped in exchange for a settlement amount of $1.8 million for plaintiff and those of his class. Plaintiff himself was to receive $20,000 for the trouble he took to bring the lawsuit; the rest of his class was to receive a pro rata share of the settlement fund; plaintiff attorneys received $540,000 in attorney fees.

Additionally, Mercer County asserted that it changed its policy on strip searches on August 17, 2006, as a result of this litigation. The new policy ended the practice of strip searching detainees on a blanket basis, as well as the practice of strip searching non-indictable detainees in the absence of reasonable suspicion. Mercer County further asserted that beginning on August 17, 2006, all corrections officers had been trained in the new policy.

Dan Dalton - 01/29/2008
Kat Brausch - 03/20/2016


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Male
General
Search policies
Strip search policy
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Mercer County
Mercer County Sheriff Department
Plaintiff Description All persons who have been or will be placed in the custody of Mercer County Jail after being charged with non indictable offenses and were or will be strip searched upon their entry.
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Damages
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Case Closing Year 2009
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  Bravo v. Board of Commissioners of Dona Ana County
http://www.bazelon.org/
Date: 2017
By: The Bazelon Center (The Bazelon Center)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Jail Strip-Search Cases: Patterns and Participants
http://law.duke.edu/journals/lcp
Date: Spring 2008
By: Margo Schlanger (Washington University in St. Louis)
Citation: 71 Law & Contemp. Problems 65 (2008)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
3:06-cv-02065-GEB-TJB (D.N.J.)
JC-NJ-0011-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/09/2010
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint [ECF# 4]
JC-NJ-0011-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/05/2006
Settlement Agreement [ECF# 39-2]
JC-NJ-0011-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/29/2008
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting Final Approval of Class Action Settlement and Judgment [ECF# 44] (D.N.J.)
JC-NJ-0011-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/20/2009
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Bongiovanni, Tonianne J. (D.N.J.)
JC-NJ-0011-0002 | JC-NJ-0011-9000
Brown, Garrett E. Jr. Court not on record
JC-NJ-0011-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Cuneo, Jonathan W. (District of Columbia)
JC-NJ-0011-0001
Keach, Elmer Robert III (New York)
JC-NJ-0011-0001 | JC-NJ-0011-0003 | JC-NJ-0011-9000
LaDuca, Charles Joseph (District of Columbia)
JC-NJ-0011-0001 | JC-NJ-0011-0003
Lesser, Seth R. (New York)
JC-NJ-0011-0001 | JC-NJ-0011-0003 | JC-NJ-0011-9000
Mason, Gary E. (District of Columbia)
JC-NJ-0011-0001
Riback, William A. (New Jersey)
JC-NJ-0011-0001 | JC-NJ-0011-0003 | JC-NJ-0011-9000
Rudich, Fran L. (New York)
JC-NJ-0011-0001 | JC-NJ-0011-0003
Defendant's Lawyers Crowley, Sarah G. (New Jersey)
JC-NJ-0011-0003 | JC-NJ-0011-9000
Giordano, Gregory J. (New Jersey)
JC-NJ-0011-0003 | JC-NJ-0011-9000

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