On May 1, 2000, a female plaintiff represented by attorney Howard Friedman of Boston, along with other counsel, filed a civil rights class action lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. The lawsuit challenged the strip search ...
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On May 1, 2000, a female plaintiff represented by attorney Howard Friedman of Boston, along with other counsel, filed a civil rights class action lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. The lawsuit challenged the strip search policy of the Plymouth County Regional Lockup Facility at the Marshfield Police Department. Plaintiffs alleged that the Plymouth County Sheriff had a blanket strip search policy whereby all women detained as "safe-keeps" (pre-arraignment detainees, those held on warrants and those in protective custody) in the Lockup Facility were subjected to strip and/or visual body cavity searches, without any reasonable suspicion that the women possessed contraband or weapons. In addition to Plymouth County and its Sheriff, plaintiffs named as defendants the town of Marshfield, which leased jail space to the County, and the towns of Hanover and Rockland, which sent detainees to the Lockup Facility. Plaintiffs sought compensatory and punitive monetary damages and class certification. All defendants denied the allegations.
The parties consented to having the case tried by Magistrate Judge Robert B. Collings. An amended complaint was filed on July 2, 2001, which added claims for women who were strip searched before special arraignment sessions at the Plymouth County Correctional Facility ("PCCF"). Judge Collings certified the case as a class action on October 1, 2001, establishing two sub-classes: the Marshfield sub-class consisting of women who were strip searched at a Lockup Facility, and the Plymouth County Correctional Facility sub-class consisting of women who were strip searched before special arraignment sessions at a count jail. It was estimated that there were approximately 700 female class members.
Shortly thereafter, plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed their claims against the Town of Hanover and Town of Rockland.
On November 14, 2003, Judge Collings preliminarily approved a settlement and set the matter for a fairness hearing. Final approval was granted on March 11, 2004. Under the terms of the settlement, Plymouth County and the Town of Marshfield agreed to pay $1.35 million into a settlement fund to resolve all class claims. From the fund, the Court awarded class counsel $429,000 for attorney's fees (33%), $8,359 for litigation costs (.64%), and $25,632 for claims administration expenses (1.97%), representing 35.61% of the total settlement fund. The Court also approved $7,500 to each of the four class representatives and $3,500 to one class member who assisted class counsel for a total of $33,500 in incentive awards. A total of 105 claim forms, representing 133 total claims, were approved (28 class members were in both sub-classes), with a participation rate of 15%. Marshfield class members received $5,859 and PCCF class members received $7,705. Claimants received an award for just one strip search. Settlement administration continued through 2005.Dan Dalton - 02/26/2008