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Fonder v. Sheriff of Kankakee County

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

October 15, 2013

DARNELL FONDER, Plaintiff,
v.
SHERIFF OF KANKAKEE COUNTY and KANKAKEE COUNTY, Defendants.

OPINION

MICHAEL P. McCUSKEY, District Judge.

This case is before the court for ruling on the Motion for Class Certification (#43) filed by Plaintiff, Darnell Fonder. This court has carefully considered Plaintiff's Motion, the Response (#48)[1] filed by Defendants Sheriff of Kankakee County and Kankakee County, Plaintiff's Reply Memorandum (#46), and the documents provided by the parties. Following this careful and thorough review, Plaintiff's Motion for Class Certification (#43) is GRANTED.

FACTS[2]

The Jerome Combs Detention Center (JCDC) is the centralized booking facility for municipal and county police departments in Kankakee County, Illinois. The jail houses detainees who are arrested with and without a warrant. Detainees who are being held for more than a day, including those who are awaiting a judicial determination of probable cause, may be moved into a housing unit within the jail. Police departments in Kankakee County do not have detention facilities. Therefore, persons arrested in Kankakee County who must appear before a judge before being permitted to post bond are held at the JCDC. The Sheriff's written policies mandate the strip search of all persons assigned to the general jail population, without regard to whether or not a judicial official had found that there was probable cause to detain them. The Sheriff's written policies provide that a strip search begins with the complete removal of clothing, followed by a visual examination of all areas of the detainee's body.

Plaintiff was arrested on April 24, 2010. The arresting officers, who did not have a warrant, believed Plaintiff had committed a domestic battery. Domestic battery is one of the offenses for which Illinois law requires an appearance before a judge for the setting of bond. Plaintiff was taken to JCDC and was processed into the general population at the JCDC. A correctional officer ordered Plaintiff to remove his clothes. Plaintiff complied with this order and was then told to open his mouth, ears and tongue, lift his testicles, spread his butt cheeks and move his feet around. Plaintiff was given a jump suit after the search and directed to a housing unit. Plaintiff remained at the JCDC for nearly two days until he was released without the filing of any charges "pending further investigation."

Defendants have conceded that the Sheriff's written policies for the JCDC require each incoming detainee to be strip searched. Defendants contend, however, that the general practice of the Sheriff's office and among correctional officers is not to conduct a strip search except when a detainee refuses to change into the facility's uniform, when contraband is detected during the initial pat down search, or when the arresting officer requests a strip search in writing.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On April 22, 2012, Plaintiff filed a Complaint (#1) against Defendants. Plaintiff also sued the City of Kankakee, Officer Trudeau and Officer Wagner. On July 9, 2012, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint (#23). On September 18, 2012, this court entered an Order (#29). This court accepted the Report and Recommendation (#27) filed by Magistrate Judge David G. Bernthal. This court granted the Motion to Dismiss filed by the City of Kankakee and dismissed the City as a Defendant in this case. This court denied the Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings filed by Officers Trudeau and Wagner and denied the Motion to Dismiss filed by Defendants. On February 6, 2013, Judge Bernthal entered an Order (#39) and granted the Motion to Sever filed by Officers Trudeau and Wagner. Judge Bernthal stated that Plaintiff "shall file a new case against Defendants Trudeau and Wagner within 14 days of the entry of this order."[3]

On February 20, 2013, Plaintiff filed a Second Amended Complaint (#40) in this case. Plaintiff stated that he "challenges the Sheriff's policy that requires the strip search of all arrestees being detained by the Sheriff before their initial appearance before a judge[.]" Plaintiff alleged, in pertinent part:

12. Plaintiff was subjected to a strip search, as described above, following his arrival at the Jerome Combs Detention Center on April 24, 2010.
13. Plaintiff contends that the Sheriff's policy of requiring the strip search of arrestees in advance of a judicial determination of probable cause is unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment. Plaintiff brings this claim individually and for all detainees held in the custody of the Sheriff of Kankakee County from April 20, 2010 to the date of entry of judgment in this case who were strip searched at the Jerome Combs Detention Center in advance of a judicial determination of probable cause to detain.
14. From April 22, 2010 through December 31, 2012, 12564 persons entered the Jerome Combs Detention Center in advance of a judicial determination of probable cause. Each of these persons is a member of the proposed class, which is so numerous as to render joinder impracticable.
15. The proposed class presents common questions of fact and law, i.e., whether defendant Sheriff actually applies his written strip search policies described above and, if so, whether these policies are unconstitutional.
16. Plaintiff's claim is typical of that asserted for the proposed class and plaintiff and his attorney will adequately represent the proposed class.
17. Class certification is appropriate under Rule 23(b)(3) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure because the common questions of law and fact predominate over individual issues of damages.

Defendants filed their Answer (#41) on March 5, 2013.

On June 10, 2013, Plaintiff filed a Motion to re-set pre-trial schedule (#42). On June 11, 2013, Judge Bernthal entered a text order and granted Plaintiff's unopposed Motion. Judge Bernthal also set a ...


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