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Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Semelbauer v. Muskegon County JC-MI-0010
Docket / Court 1:14-cv-01245 ( W.D. Mich. )
State/Territory Michigan
Case Type(s) Jail Conditions
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU of Michigan
Case Summary
On December 4, 2014, eight female inmates of Muskegon County Jail (MCJ) filed this class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Muskegon County, ... read more >
On December 4, 2014, eight female inmates of Muskegon County Jail (MCJ) filed this class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Muskegon County, Michigan. The plaintiffs, represented by the ACLU of Michigan and private counsel, sought declaratory relief, injunctive relief, and damages, claiming that the conditions of confinement at the MCJ are inhumane and unconstitutional.

Specifically, the plaintiffs alleged that, in addition to being exposed to unsafe physical conditions, male guards at the prison are permitted to watch female inmates while they change clothes, shower, and use the lavatory. The plaintiffs said they also are targeted with slurs and are often denied access to clean underwear and basic sanitary items such as toilet paper and feminine hygiene products. These conditions, the plaintiffs contended, violate the prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures under the Fourth Amendment, the prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment, and the prohibition against punishment of pretrial detainees under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Together with their complaint, the plaintiffs filed motions for a preliminary injunction and class certification. On February 6, 2015, the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint, adding three additional named plaintiffs. As of June 17, 2015, the District Court (Judge Janet T. Neff) has yet to rule on these motions, and the case is ongoing.

Robert Lake - 06/17/2015

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Affected Gender
Constitutional Clause
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Due Process
Unreasonable search and seizure
Crowding / caseload
Assault/abuse by staff
Bathing and hygiene
Conditions of confinement
Grievance Procedures
Over/Unlawful Detention
Recreation / Exercise
Sanitation / living conditions
Totality of conditions
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Muskegon County
Plaintiff Description Eleven women who are current and former inmates of Muskegon County Jail, individually and on behalf of a putative class.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU of Michigan
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Pending
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Case Ongoing Yes
1:14-cv-01245-JTN (W.D. Mich.)
JC-MI-0010-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/20/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
JC-MI-0010-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 12/04/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Amended Complaint [ECF# 18]
JC-MI-0010-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/06/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Neff, Janet T. (W.D. Mich.)
Plaintiff's Lawyers Allen, Marc S. (Michigan)
JC-MI-0010-0001 | JC-MI-0010-0002 | JC-MI-0010-9000
Aukerman, Miriam (Michigan)
JC-MI-0010-0001 | JC-MI-0010-0002 | JC-MI-0010-9000
Carlson, Kevin M. (Michigan)
JC-MI-0010-0001 | JC-MI-0010-0002 | JC-MI-0010-9000
Johnson, Andrea J. (Michigan)
JC-MI-0010-0001 | JC-MI-0010-0002
Korobkin, Daniel S. (Michigan)
JC-MI-0010-0001 | JC-MI-0010-0002 | JC-MI-0010-9000
Moss, Kary L. (Michigan)
JC-MI-0010-0001 | JC-MI-0010-0002
Nelson, Sofia V (Michigan)
Pitt, Michael L. (Michigan)
JC-MI-0010-0001 | JC-MI-0010-0002
Rivers, Beth M. (Michigan)
JC-MI-0010-0001 | JC-MI-0010-0002 | JC-MI-0010-9000
Steinberg, Michael J. (Michigan)
JC-MI-0010-0001 | JC-MI-0010-0002 | JC-MI-0010-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Brege, Andrew James (Michigan)
Hughes, Douglas M. (Michigan)
Neagos, Horia Razvan (Michigan)
Vander Laan, Allan C. (Michigan)

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