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$205,000 Settlement in Massachusetts Strip Search Suit

On December 27, 2006, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts agreed to pay $205,000 to settle a class action lawsuit alleging hundreds of arrestees were illegally strip searched at the Hampshire Jail and House of Corrections between January 18, 2002 and November 7, 2002.

Lead plaintiff Charles Ryan IV was arrested in January 2002 for allegedly violating a protective order by driving by his ex wife?s house. Upon being booked into the Hampshire Jail Ryan was subjected to a strip search even though no allegation of violence or the threat of violence had been made. Ryan was released from the jail several days later and the charges against him were eventually dropped.

Ryan sued Hampshire County Sheriff Robert J. Garvey and Patrick J. Cahillane, the Deputy Superintendent responsible for jail operations, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The lawsuit contended the jail maintained a policy of strip searching every arrestee admitted to the jail, regardless of the circumstances, and that the defendants knew or should have known this policy was unconstitutional. Ryan sought declatory, injunctive, and monetary damages for the emotional distress he suffered as a result of the illegal strip search.

The Commonwealth prudently chose to settle rather than defend the jail?s policy. Attorneys? fees will be paid from the $205,000 settlement, and Ryan will receive $10,000 in addition to his portion of the class settlement as compensation for his time and lack of privacy in bringing the suit. The remainder of the settlement will be divided equally among the eligible class members.

Ryan was represented by Howard Friedman and Myong J. Joun of the Law Offices off Howard Friedman in Boston, Massachusetts. See: Ryan v. Garvey, USDC D MA, Case No. 05-30017-MAP.

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Related legal case

Ryan v. Garvey