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CALVIN v. SHERIFF OF WILL COUNTY

May 12, 2004.

JAVAR CALVIN, WILLIAM VIRBLE MOORE, and CHARLES DAVIS, Plaintiffs,
v.
SHERIFF OF WILL COUNTY and WILL COUNTY, ILLINOIS, Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: ROBERT GETTLEMAN, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiffs Javar Calvin, William Moore and Charles Davis, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, filed this putative class action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that they were unlawfully arrested and then strip searched while in the custody of defendant, the Sheriff of Will County. Plaintiffs seek monetary damages for the deprivation of rights secured by the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States.

Plaintiffs have moved pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 23 for certification of three subclasses defined any person "who, from May 8, 2001 (two years before filing this action) to the date of entry of judgment have been, is [sic], or will be:
I. Arrested on an erroneous computer indication that a warrant has been issued for his (or her) arrest for failure to appear in court in a misdemeanor or traffic case and is held overnight at the Will County Jail;
II. Arrested on a warrant issued for failure to appear in a misdemeanor or traffic case and, following arrival at the Will County Jail, is or was strip searched without any individualized finding of reasonable suspicion or probable cause that he was concealing contraband or weapons.
III. In the custody of the Sheriff of Will County of a traffic or misdemeanor charge (or on a warrant issued for failure to appear on a traffic or misdemeanor charge), taken to court from the Will County Jail, ordered released by the Court or became entitled to release because the charge on which he (or she) was being held was no longer pending or was dismissed at the hearing, was ordered released on his (or her) own recognizance, or had posted bail, was sentenced to time served, was acquitted or was otherwise entitled to release, was not the subject of any other pending case or cases which imposed any condition of release other than personal recognizance, was not the subject of any detainer or warrant, was returned in shackles to the Will County Jail to be processed out of the custody of the Sheriff of Will County, and Was [sic] strip searched without any individualized finding of reasonable suspicion that he (or she) was concealing contraband or weapons."
  Defendants oppose certification, arguing that: (1) subclass I does not satisfy the numerosity requirements of Rule 23(a); (2) subclass II does not satisfy the typicality requirement of Rule 23(a); and subclasses II and III do not have a question of law or fact common to the class that predominates over individual questions of law or fact, thus failing to satisfy Rule 23(b)(3).

  FACTS

  According to plaintiffs' second amended complaint, each plaintiff was arrested because defendants maintained records that mistakenly indicated an outstanding arrest warrant when no such warrant actually existed. Upon arrival at the Will County Adult Detention Facility ("WCADF")*fn1, each member was allegedly strip searched pursuant to the Sheriff's policy.

  Plaintiffs Calvin and Moore repeatedly protested their arrests, insisting that they had no outstanding warrants. Within two days of each plaintiff's arrest, a judge concluded that each detention was in error and ordered each plaintiff released. After the release orders issued, WCADF personnel allegedly maintained each plaintiff in handcuffs and shackles and returned him to WCADF. At the WCADF, personnel allegedly strip searched each plaintiff, returning him to a detention cell for several hours until his eventual release that day.

  Plaintiffs contend that defendants' failure to use a more accurate system caused incorrect warrants to issue unchecked, thus amounting to deliberate indifference and the unreasonable detention of subclass I plaintiffs. Plaintiffs also maintain that the Sheriff's policy that allowed strip searches without reasonable suspicion that the arrestee possessed concealed contraband or weapons deprived each subclass II plaintiff of his Fourth Amendment rights. Last, plaintiffs contend that the Sheriff's policy of shackling and strip searching persons who were entitled to immediate release deprived each subclass III plaintiff of his Fourth Amendment rights.

  DISCUSSION

  Fed.R.Civ.P. 23 requires a two step analysis to determine whether a class should be certified. First, Rule 23(a) requires plaintiffs to demonstrate: (1) numerosity; (2) commonality; (3) typicality; and (4) adequacy of representation. Harriston v. Chicago Tribune Co., 992 F.2d 697, 703 (7th Cir. 1993). Second, one of Rule 23(b)'s conditions must be satisfied. Cwiak v. Flint Ink Corp., 186 F.R.D. 494, 496 (N.D. Ill. 1999). In the instant case, Rule 23(b)(3) requires plaintiffs to demonstrate that: "1) common questions must predominate over any questions affecting only individual members; and 2) class resolution must be superior to other methods for the fair and effective adjudication of the controversy." Portis v. City of Chicago, 2003 WL 22078279, *3 (N.D. Ill. Sept. 8, 2003) (quoting Joncek v. Local 714 International of Teamsters Health and Welfare Fund, 1999 WL 755051, *7 (N.D. Ill. Sept. 3, 1999)). Plaintiffs have the burden of showing compliance with Rule 23. Cwiak, 186 F.R.D. at 496. Defendants challenge certification of each subclass on different grounds. 1. Subclass I — The "Bad Warrant" Subclass

  Defendants oppose certification of subclass I, the "bad warrant" subclass, arguing that plaintiffs fail to demonstrate numerosity. A class may be certified only if the class is so numerous as to make joinder of all members impracticable. Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(a)(1); Cwiak, at 496. Defendants contend that discovery shows only a handful of potential class members, namely the specific plaintiffs and a few other possible, yet unnamed, members. Defendants point to Sergeant Vitek's deposition testimony that, in his opinion, over the past four years, the Sheriff's records probably show less than five instances of a quashed warrant arrest.

  Plaintiffs contend that at least 75 people compose the first subclass, emphasizing the deposition testimony of Sergeant Brian Fink, who acknowledged that, perhaps as often as once a week, "a person [is] brought into the jail on a warrant and says that, `That warrant was quashed; I shouldn't be here.'" Sergeant Fink added, however, that "everybody says that the warrant isn't any good." Plaintiffs also direct the court's attention to plaintiff Davis' deposition, in which he testified that the judge who ordered his release said he was "about the 201st person coming in here getting falsely arrested."

  The Fink and Davis deposition excerpts do not persuade the court that the first subclass is sufficiently numerous to merit class treatment. The Fink deposition testimony addresses only how many people complain that they have been brought in invalid warrants; his testimony does not address the number of warrants that actually were quashed. The only evidence before the court regarding the number of actual quashed warrant arrests, which was provided by defendant, indicates that there have been only five incidents. Plaintiffs concede that five incidents alone do not satisfy the numerosity requirement of Rule 23(a). Although plaintiffs are not required to show the exact number of people included in the proposed class, Cwiak, 186 F.R.D. at 494, the impracticability of joinder must be established by more than mere speculation. See id. at 496 (" [I]mpracticability of joinder must be positively shown, and cannot be speculative.") (citations omitted). The court thus denies plaintiffs' motion to certify subclass I. If further discovery reveals a greater number of actual quashed warrant arrests that would satisfy the numerosity requirement, however, plaintiffs may renew their motion to certify subclass I,
2. Subclass II — The "Post-Arrest Strip Search" Subclass
  Defendants oppose certification of subclass n, the "post-arrest strip search" subclass, arguing that plaintiffs fail to demonstrate, (1) typicality, and (2) a common question of law or fact that predominates over individual issues. The court addresses each of these arguments in turn below.

  A class may be certified only if the claims of the representative parties are typical of the claims of the class. Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(a)(3); De La Fuente v. Stokely-Van Camp, Inc., 713 F.2d 225, 232 (7th Cir. 1983). Defendants argue that the class definition is overbroad and indefinite, thus making it too difficult for the court to "determine whether a particular individual is a member of the proposed class." See Clay v. American Tobacco Co., 188 F.R.D. 483, 490 (S.D.Ill. 1999). In arguing that the class is indefinite, defendants hypothesize a split in the class between those members who were strip searched and released on bond and those members who were strip searched and admitted as WCADF inmates.

  The court fails to see how the interests of the named plaintiffs, who were strip searched prior to being admitted as inmates, are not aligned with the interests of those class members who were strip searched prior to posting bail. Plaintiffs are challenging the policy of strip searching each person arrested on a warrant for failure to appear in a misdemeanor or traffic case without first making an individualized finding of reasonable suspicion or probable cause that he or she was concealing contraband or weapons. According to plaintiffs, the strip searches allegedly occurred "upon arrival," and the challenged policy applied to every arrestee regardless of whether he was later released on bond or admitted as a WCADF inmate. As plaintiffs point out, every member of the "post-arrest strip search" subclass advances the same claim that the Sheriff's uniform strip search policy (specifically, to strip search all ...


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