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$2.5 Million Settlement in Schenectady County Strip Search Suit

On July 31, 2006, Schenectady County, New York, agreed to settle a suit over its county jail strip search policy for $2.5 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 who were placed into the custody of the Schenectady County jail during the period June 29, 2001, through and including June 29, 2005, after being- charged with misdemeanors, violations of probation or parole, or held on civil matters, and were strip searched upon entry into the jail.?

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 $1.75 million going to the plaintiff class distributed to individual plaintiffs on a pro rata basis. The remaining approximately $750,000 would go to pay administrative expenses (estimated at $85,000), attorney fees, costs and incentive awards of $32,000 to class representative Lessie Davies and $1,500 to proposed intervener William Smith who assisted class counsel. Elmer Robert Keach, III, of Amsterdam, New York.
No incentive was given former class representative Nichols Marie McDaniel. The class size is estimated to be around 6,000 people so that each class member should receive between $750 and $1,250. This suit also resulted in an overhaul of the strip search policies. See: McDaniel v. County of Schenectady, USDC, NDNY, Case No. 04-CV-0757(GLS)(PFT).

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Related legal case

McDaniel v. County of Schenectady