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$2 Million Settlement in Montgomery County, NY Strip Search Suit

On September 22, 2006, a federal judge entered an order approving the preliminary settlement of a suit against Montgomery County, New York, over its county jail strip search policy, for $2 million.

This is a class-action civil rights lawsuit brought in federal district court pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiff class consists of ?persons in the United States who have been or will be placed into the custody of the Montgomery County jail after being charged with misdemeanors, violations, violations of probation or parole, traffic infractions or other minor crimes, or held on civil matters, and were strip searched upon entry into the Montgomery County Jail pursuant to the policy, custom and practice of the Montgomery County Sheriffs Department and the County of Montgomery. The class period commenced on April 29, 2000, and extended until March 25, 2005.?

The claim is that the Jail had a policy of strip searching such persons without reasonable suspicion that they were secreting contraband and that such strip searches were unconstitutional pursuant to clearly established law. The plan of distribution of the funds included around $1.3 million going to the plaintiff class distributed to individual plaintiffs on a pro rata basis. The class size is estimated at 3,650 people, so each class member should receive between $2,000 and $3,000. The remaining approximately $700,000 would go to pay administrative expenses (estimated at $65,000), attorney fees, costs and incentive awards to class representative of $12,500 for Paul Marriott, $15,000 to Barbara Davis, and $7,500 to Andy Rivera, who assisted lead class counsel Elmer Robert Keach, III, of Amsterdam, New York. This suit also resulted in an overhaul of the Jail?s strip search policies. Attorneys Bruce F. Nenken and Jason J. Rozger of New York City and Gary Mason of Washington, D.C., also represented the plaintiff class. See: Marriott v. County of Montgomery, USDC NDNY, Case No. 03-CV--0531 (DNH)(DEP).

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Related legal case

Marriott v. County of Montgomery