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Connecticut Strip Search Suit Settles For $2.5 Million

The State of Connecticut will pay $2.5 million to settle a class action lawsuit that alleged the state maintained an unconstitutional practice of strip searching all incoming prisoners at the New Haven Community Correction Center (NHCCC).

Plaintiff Charles Campbell claimed that he was strip searched at the jail on December 13, 2000, after a judge ordered him held on a civil charge of not paying family support. Plaintiffs Horace Dodd, Sr. and Lorenzo Foreman made similar claims regarding illegal strip searches conducted at NHCCC following their arrests in 1988 and 1989 on civil charges of not paying child support.

In their lawsuit, filed in the U. S. District Court for the District of Connecticut on January 12, 2001, the named plaintiffs alleged their was no justification for strip searching them since they were arrested on civil rather than criminal charges and there was no individualized, reasonable suspicion that they possessed weapons or contraband.

Following discovery the state agreed to settle. Under the agreement, the Court will certify a class of all males who were strip-searched at the jail between January 12, 1998 and January 12, 2001, following an arrest on civil contempt charges or for any qualifying non-violent, non-drug related misdemeanor offense.

The three named plaintiffs will receive $20,000 each from the $2.5 million settlement fund. The remainder of the fund will be distributed among eligible class members after deducting attorneys? fees and costs.

The Court was expected to finalize the agreement in August 2007. The settlement will still require approval by the state legislature, however.

Attorneys Gregory A. Belzley of the Louisville, Kentucky law firm Dinsmore & Shohl, and Anthony A. Wallace of the New Haven, Connecticut, firm Wallace & O?Neil represented the plaintiffs. See: Foreman v. State of Connecticut, USDC D CT, Case No. 3:01CV0061 (WIG).

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Related legal case

Foreman v. State of Connecticut

The complaint and settlement are available in the brief bank.