On October 31, 2003, a young man (twice strip searched, at ages 16 and 17, after separate misdemeanor and minor violation arrests), represented by private attorneys from several New York firms, filed a class action civil rights lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for ...
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On October 31, 2003, a young man (twice strip searched, at ages 16 and 17, after separate misdemeanor and minor violation arrests), represented by private attorneys from several New York firms, filed a class action civil rights lawsuit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York. He alleged that the Rensselaer County Sheriff's Department had an unconstitutional blanket policy and/or practice of strip searching all individuals who entered the Rensselaer County Jail, including those charged with misdemeanors or petty violations, regardless of the charge and without reasonable suspicion to believe that the individuals were concealing weapons or contraband. Plaintiffs alleged that the policy violated the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. They sought declaratory and injunctive relief, compensatory and punitive damages, and class certification. Defendants, the County and the Sheriff, answered by generally denying all allegations.
Shortly after suit was filed, the parties settled the case and a related case, Bruce vs. County of Rensselaer (1:02-CV-847). Following passage of the periods for notice and claims, Judge Thomas J. McAvoy granted plaintiff's motion for class certification and for final approval of the Agreement. He entered judgment on September 24, 2004.
Under the settlement, Rensselaer County agreed to pay up to $2.7 million to settle all class claims, with each class member receiving $1,000. Claimants would receive the same amount, regardless of gender or the number of strip searches. The court awarded $442,701.74 for attorney's fees, litigation costs and claims administration expenses. The class representative received an incentive bonus of $5,000. The eventual participation rate was 27% -- 733 claims having been made (639 class members were paid; 94 disputed claims were being investigated). Based on the actual payout of $1,175,701.74, the fees, costs and expenses awarded in this case represented 37.65% of the settlement.
After the settlement was approved and claims were paid, approximately forty individuals whose claims had been denied by the County as untimely moved to have their claims paid. The District Court (Magistrate Judge David R. Homer) determined that some claims notices had been re-mailed to updated address and, thus, ruled that any claims received within 90 days of the latest re-mailing date would be paid. Kahler v. County of Rensselaer, 2005 WL 1981300 (N.D. N.Y. Aug 17, 2005).
On June 27, 2007, Judge Homer entered an order terminating the case at plaintiffs' request and without defense objection. We have no information that subsequent activity occurred in the case.Dan Dalton - 03/05/2008