United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
November 19, 2004.
QUENTIN BULLOCK and JACK REID, individually and on behalf of a class of all those similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
MICHAEL F. SHEAHAN, Sheriff of Cook County in his official capacity, and COOK COUNTY, Defendants.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: ELAINE E. BUCKLO, District Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiffs Quentin Bullock (also known as Robert Bullock) and
Jack Reid allege that defendants Michael Sheahan, Cook County
Sheriff, and Cook County have a policy and/or practice under
which Mr. Bullock and Mr. Reid were subjected to strip-searches
upon returning to the Cook County Department of Corrections
(CCDC) for out-processing. On July 17, 2002, Mr. Bullock was
arrested for armed robbery and committed to the custody of the
CCDC. Following a bench trial on December 17, 2003, Mr. Bullock
was found not guilty and was returned to the CCDC for
out-processing pending release. On May 1, 2003, Mr. Reid was
arrested on a felony charge and also committed to the custody of
the CCDC. Following a bench trial on September 23, 2003, Mr. Reid
was also found not guilty and returned to the CCDC for
out-processing. After their respective trials and return to the CCDC, both
plaintiffs allege that they were subjected to a strip search
prior to their release, in accordance with the defendants' policy
and/or practice. Plaintiffs further allege that while male
inmates are subjected to such searches, female inmates are not.
In contrast, women returned to the CCDC for out-processing are
placed in a holding cell while CCDC staff checks for additional
cases or holds involving the individual. Once the staff confirms
that no other reason exists to hold the individual, women have
their civilian belongings returned, have their identity
confirmed, and are released. Plaintiffs allege that this
differential treatment violates their rights under the Fourth and
Fourteenth Amendments. Plaintiffs move for class certification
pursuant to Rule 23(b) (3) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. I GRANT that motion.
In order to certify a class, I must determine that the four
prerequisites of Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(a) are met, and that the
action is maintainable under Fed.R.Civ.P. 23(b) (1), (2), or
(3). The four prerequisites of Rule 23(a) are that (1) the
proposed class is so numerous that joinder of all members is
impracticable, (2) there are questions of law or fact common to
the class, (3) the claims of the representative parties are
typical of the claims of the class, and (4) the representative
parties will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class. With respect to Rule 23(b),
plaintiffs here proceed under 23(b) (3), which requires that the
questions of law or fact common to the members of the class
predominate over any questions affecting only individual members
and that a class action is superior to other available methods
for the fair and efficient adjudication of the controversy.
Plaintiffs bear the burden of showing that the proposed class
satisfies all the requirements of Rule 23. Trotter v. Klincar,
748 F.2d 1177, 1184 (7th Cir. 1984). As an initial matter,
plaintiffs must show that they have presented a definable class.
Harris v. Gen. Dev. Corp., 127 F.R.D. 655, 658 (N.D. Ill.
1989). Defendants argue that plaintiffs have not done so.
Plaintiffs' proposed class consists of inmates who have returned
to the jail following a court order for their release, and who
were strip searched upon that return. Defendants contend that
this class is too vague and overbroad, arguing that judges do not
determine whether an individual should continue to be held,
simply whether they should be held on a particular charge. I
disagree. Defendants can determine, prior to any need for a strip
search of an inmate returning from court, whether a given inmate
will be released pursuant to the court order or will be
reentering the jail population. In fact, defendants are operating
under a court order prohibiting them from strip searching female
inmates who in every other way match this proposed class of male inmates. Plaintiffs
have proposed a sufficiently well-defined class.
For a class to be certified, plaintiffs first must show that
the affected class is so numerous that joinder is impractical.
FED. R. CIV. P. 23(a)(1). While defendants contest whether
plaintiffs have satisfied the numerosity requirement, their
arguments are based on the issues of vagueness and overbreadth
addressed above. Plaintiffs estimate the number of affected
individuals is over 20,000, based on a similar class of female
inmates which numbered well over 10,000. This is sufficient to
satisfy the numerosity requirement. See Daniels v. Blount
Parrish & Co., Inc., 211 F.R.D. 352, 353 (N.D. Ill. 2002).
Defendants also argue that Mr. Bullock and Mr. Reid do not meet
the Rule 23 commonality, typicality, or adequate representation
The issues of commonality, typicality, and adequacy of the
named plaintiffs to represent the proposed class often
overlap.*fn1 Gen. Telephone Co. v. Falcon, 457 U.S. 147,
158 n. 13 (1982). To show commonality, plaintiffs must show that
the proposed class shares common questions of law or fact.
Krislov v. Rednour, 946 F. Supp. 563, 568 (N.D. Ill. 1996).
Where, as here, "a question of law refers to standardized conduct by defendants toward members
of the proposed class, a common nucleus of operative facts is
typically presented, and the commonality requirement is usually
met." Patrykus v. Gomilla, 121 F.R.D. 357, 361 (N.D. Ill.
1988). Defendants again argue that commonality does not exist
because the class is undefined and overbroad; this argument fails
for the reasons discussed above. Plaintiffs allege that
defendants' policy of strip searching male inmates under the
stated conditions violates their Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment
rights. That issue is central to the claims of the proposed
class; the commonality requirement is met.
Typicality is shown when the named plaintiffs' claims arise
from the same event or practice as the claims of the proposed
class and are based on the same legal theory. Patrykus,
121 F.R.D. at 362. If the claims are based on the same legal theory,
even factual differences among class claims need not defeat
typicality. Id. The named plaintiffs' claims and the claims of
the class arise from defendants' practice of strip searching male
inmates under the stated conditions. The claims proceed on the
legal theory that this practice violates the inmates' Fourth and
Fourteenth Amendment rights. Defendants argue that typicality is
defeated because the named plaintiffs allege that they were
closely supervised while away from the jail and other potential
class members may not have been so closely supervised. Potential
factual differences concerning the level of supervision of inmates are not sufficient
to defeat typicality.
Finally, adequacy of representation with respect to the named
plaintiffs requires that the named plaintiffs not have a conflict
of interest that would prevent them from adequately protecting
the claims of other class members. Patrykus, 121 F.R.D. at 362.
Defendants again raise the issue of differing levels of
supervision to argue that the named plaintiffs cannot adequately
represent the proposed class. The proposed class is challenging
the constitutionality of the defendants' policy on strip
searches, regardless of the level of scrutiny for each individual
inmate. Plaintiffs can adequately represent the class.
The proposed class must also fit under least one section of
Rule 23(b). Plaintiffs move for certification of the proposed
class under Rule 23(b) (3), which requires that common questions
of law or fact predominate over individual issues among the
class, and that a class action be the superior option for
resolving those questions. FED. R. CIV. P. 23(b) (3). Defendants
argue that individual issues relating to damages will predominate
over the question of whether the male inmates' constitutional
rights have been violated. Plaintiffs seek only monetary damages
and the amount of damages each plaintiff is entitled to will
rely, in part, on the level of emotional distress experienced by
that plaintiff. However, the fact that damages may vary among plaintiffs is not a
sufficient reason to deny certification. See, e.g., Calvin v.
Sheriff of will Cty., no. 03-C-3086, 2004 WL 1125922, at *5
(N.D. Ill. May 17, 2004).
Defendants also argue that because of the large number of
potential class members, the proposed class is not
manageable.*fn2 However, the central issue is whether
defendants have violated the constitutional rights of male
inmates by subjecting them to a strip search after a judicial
release from custody. Assuming defendants are found liable on
this central issue, I may choose to certify subclasses, hold
individual hearings, or otherwise divide the class for the
purpose of determining damages. See, e.g., Calvin, 2004 WL
1125922 at *5.
Plaintiffs' motion for class certification is granted. A class
is certified consisting of those persons described in plaintiffs'
All male inmates who, on or after February 12, 2002,
have been subjected to defendants' policy, practice
and custom of strip searching, without reasonable
suspicion that the inmate is concealing a weapon or
other contraband, at the Cook County Department of
Corrections following their return from court after
there is a judicial determination that there is no longer a basis for their detention, other than to be
processed for release.