Name of Assigned Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman Sitting Judge if Other or Magistrate Judge than Assigned Judge
Plaintiff has brought a motion for class certification [#41]. For the reasons contained in this order, the motion is denied.
O [For further details see text below.] Docketing to mail notices.
Plaintiff, Lawrence Latham, has brought this pro se civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that he was subjected to a blanket strip search policy on intake at the Cook County Jail in violation of his constitutional rights.
Plaintiff has filed a motion for class certification that the Court denies. Pro se prisoners are generally not allowed to represent a class. The Court finds that maintaining this suit as a class action is not appropriate under the circumstances of this case. One of the prerequisites for class action certification is a finding that the representative parties can "fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class." Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(a)(4). A factor the Court must consider in determining the adequacy of representation is the qualifications and experience of the person actually conducting the litigation. Secretary of Labor v. Fitzsimmons, 805 F.2d 682, 697 (7th Cir. 1986); see also Jackson v. National Action Financial Services, Inc., 227 F.R.D. 284, 289 n. 6 (N.D. Ill. 2005) (Castillo, J.); Mendez v. M.R.S. Associates, No. 03 C 6753, 2004 WL 1745779, at *5 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 3, 2004) (Pallmeyer, J.) Competent representation is crucial because a judgment rendered in a class action suit for injunctive relief is binding on all members of the class. See, e.g., Pavone v. Aegis Lending Corp., No. 05 C 5129, 2006 WL 2536632, at *3 (N.D. Ill Aug. 31, 2006) (Aspen, J.).
Because a layman does not ordinarily possess the legal training and expertise necessary to protect the interests of a proposed class, courts are reluctant to certify a class represented by a pro se litigant. See, e.g., Turner-EL v. Illinois Bd. of Educ., No. 93 C 4918, 1995 WL 506011, at *5 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 22, 1995) (Moran, J.); Lasley v. Godinez, 833 F. Supp. 714, 715 n. 1 (N.D. Ill. 1993) (Aspen J.) (pro se prisoners could not adequately represent class of inmates); Caputo v. Fauver, 800 F. Supp. 168, 700 (D.N.J 1992) ("Every court that has considered the issue has held that a prisoner proceeding pro se is inadequate to represent the interests of his fellow inmates in a class action."). Given Plaintiff's pro se status, the Court concludes that it would be improper for this case to proceed as a class action.
Additionally, the Court has ordered Plaintiff to show cause why this case should not be dismissed in light of the U. S. Supreme Court's recent opinion in Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders of County of Burlington, et al. ___ U.S. ___ , 2012 U.S. LEXIS 2712, (April 2, 2012). It would be inappropriate for the Court to consider certifying a class in a case in which it is unclear that Plaintiff continues to have a valid claim to pursue. Accordingly, Plaintiff's motion for class certification is denied.
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