Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Young v. County of Cook

April 25, 2007

KIM YOUNG, RONALD JOHNSON, AND WILLIAM JONES, ON BEHALF OF THEMSELVES AND A CLASS OF OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
COUNTY OF COOK, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Matthew F. Kennelly, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Kim Young, Ronald Johnson, and William Jones have sued the Sheriff of Cook County, certain high ranking Sheriff's employees, Cook County, and certain Cook County employees. Plaintiffs allege that the defendants violated plaintiffs' Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights while they were confined as pretrial detainees at the Cook County Jail (CCJ). Plaintiffs have moved to certify two classes pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(3). For the reasons stated below, the Court grants plaintiffs' motion.

Facts

In their second amended complaint, plaintiffs allege that the Sheriff and certain Sheriff's Department personnel "implemented, enforced, and/or condoned" a policy of strip searching every detainee that enters the CCJ, irrespective of the nature of the charge against the detainee. 2d Am. Compl. ¶¶ 16-17. They contend that suspicionless strip searches of detainees accused of misdemeanors and other minor offenses are unconstitutional. Plaintiffs also allege that the searches of male detainees were conducted in a degrading manner that was significantly different than the manner in which females were searched.

Young alleges that on January 13, 2005, she was arrested on an outstanding traffic warrant and taken to the CCJ. Shortly after arriving there, a female guard made her stand behind a partition, take her clothes off, squat down, and cough. Young put her clothes back on, and the guard led her, along with thirty other women, to a hallway lined with chairs, where the women waited while they took turns going into a small room for STD testing. Young claims that she did not consent to the strip search or the STD testing. Briefing on plaintiffs' request to certify a class on their claims relating to the STD testing is being handled separately.

Johnson alleges that on April 18, 2005, he was arrested for felony possession of a controlled substance. Shortly after he was booked in the CCJ, guards ordered him and one-hundred other men to strip naked in a hallway. The guards then instructed them to face a wall, bend over, and spread their buttocks with their hands, as the guards proceeded to visually inspect them. The men remained naked in each other's presence for more than thirty minutes, during which, Johnson contends, the guards made comments that the men were unbathed and stank. He alleges that the hallway was poorly ventilated and that the air reeked of body odor.

Jones alleges that on December 30, 2005, he was arrested on an outstanding traffic warrant. He says that shortly after he was booked in the CCJ, he was strip searched in a hallway along with one hundred other men. According to Jones, there was no heat in the hallway, the temperature felt like it was less than fifty degrees Fahrenheit, and the men were shivering during the approximately forty minute period they remained in the hallway. The hallway was poorly ventilated, and the air reeked of body odor. Jones alleges that the guards repeatedly poked fun at the men.

Plaintiffs contend that the strip searches performed on Johnson and Jones were conducted in a manner violative of the Fourth Amendment and the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. They also allege that because jail officials strip searched Johnson and Jones in a group setting but did not perform strip searches on similarly situated females in a group setting, the searches of the men violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Plaintiffs also contend that in view of the nature of the charges against Jones and Young, it violated the Fourth Amendment and the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to strip search them. Plaintiffs have also made state law respondeat superior and indemnification claims against Cook County.

The plaintiffs have moved the Court to certify two classes. The first proposed class consists of all males who were, on or after January 30, 2004, subjected as new CCJ detainees to a strip search (a term the Court will use to cover both strip searches and visual body cavity searches). The second proposed class consists of all males and females detained for misdemeanor or lesser offenses not involving drugs or weapons who were subjected to a strip search as new CCJ detainees on or after January 30, 2004.

Discussion

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 authorizes a court to certify a case as a class action if the party seeking certification meets all of the requirements of Rule 23(a) and one of the requirements of Rule 23(b). Under Rule 23(a)(1)-(4), a plaintiff seeking certification of a class bears the burden of proving that the class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable; there are common questions of law or fact; the representatives' claims are typical of those of the class; and the representatives fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class. FED. R. CIV. P. 23(a).

Once a party satisfies the requirements of Rule 23(a), she must meet one of the requirements delineated in Rule 23(b). In this case, plaintiffs seek certification under Rule 23(b)(3). As a result, they must show that "questions of law or fact common to the members of the class predominate over any questions affecting individual members, and [that] a class action is superior to other available methods for the fair and efficient adjudication of the controversy." FED. R. CIV. P. 23(b)(3). Plaintiffs "assume[] the burden of demonstrating that [class] certification is appropriate." Retired Chicago Police Ass'n v. City of Chicago, 7 F.3d 584, 596 (7th Cir. 1993).

1. Rule 23(a) Requirements

Rule 23(a)(1) requires that a class be so numerous that joinder of all its members is impracticable. Courts may rely on common sense assumptions or reasonable inferences as to the size of a class. Marcial v. Coronet Ins. Co., 880 F.2d 954, 957 (7th Cir. 1989). The plaintiff is not required to show the exact number of class members so long as impracticability is apparent from good faith estimates. Lopez v. City of Chicago, No. 01 C 1823, 2002 WL 31415767, at *4 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 25, 2002). Mere speculation, however, is insufficient to prove numerosity. Roe v. Town of Highland, 909 F.2d 1097, 1100 n.4 (7th Cir. 1990) (citations omitted).

Rule 23(a)(2) requires the existence of questions of law or fact common to the class, and Rule 23(a)(3) requires that the class representatives' claims be typical of those of the class. These requirements are closely related. See General Telephone Co. v. Falcon, 457 U.S. 147, 156 (1982). "A common nucleus of operative fact is usually enough to satisfy the commonality requirement of Rule 23(a)(2)." Keele v. Wexler, 149 F.3d 589, 594 (7th Cir. 1998) (quoting Rosario v. Livaditis, 963 F.2d 1013, 1018 (7th Cir. 1992)). A common set of operative facts is ordinarily present when the defendants are claimed to have engaged in "standardized conduct toward the members of the proposed class." Id.

The typicality requirement of Rule 23(a)(3) focuses on "whether the named representatives' claims have the same essential characteristics as the claims of the class at large." Retired Chicago Police Ass'n, 7 F.3d at 596-97. "A plaintiff's claim is typical if it arises from the same event or course of conduct that gives rise to the claims of other class members and his or her claims are based on the same legal theory." De La Fuente v. Stokely-Van Camp, Inc., 713 F.2d 225, 232 (7th Cir. 1983) (citations and internal quotation omitted). Factual distinctions between the claims of the named and represented plaintiffs do not defeat typicality. See Retired Chicago Police Ass'n, 7 F.3d at 596-97. The claims of the named plaintiffs must, however, have "the same essential characteristics" as those of the proposed class. See id. at 597.

Rule 23(a)(4) requires that the named plaintiffs fairly and adequately represent the class as a whole. To fulfill this requirement, both class counsel and the class representatives must be adequate. See id. at 598. A named plaintiff is generally considered to be adequate so long as his or her claims neither conflict with nor ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.