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Class Status Granted to Illinois Prisoners for Nonconsensual STD Tests

A federal judge in Illinois has granted class action status to a group of Cook County prisoners who were subjected to painful medical tests without their explicit consent.

Plaintiffs Robert Jackson, Joseph McGrath and Derrell Smith claimed that during the intake process at the Cook County Jail they were forced to undergo screening for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). As part of the screening process, a medical technician with Cermak Health Services shoved a cotton swab into the prisoners' penises to collect a sample.

The prisoners acknowledge they signed a consent form during the hectic intake process. But they contended that "the totality of circumstances at the receiving unit makes it impossible for anyone to give valid consent to the insertion of the urethral swab."

The plaintiffs moved for class action certification in the U.S. District for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. In support of their motion the plaintiffs submitted affidavits from 14 other prisoners who swore they were subjected to similar procedures at the jail. The plaintiffs further alleged that the "invasive procedure has been applied to more than one thousand persons from January 27, 2004 to the present."

On December 14, 2006, Judge David H. Coar granted the plaintiffs' motion, holding that their allegations sufficiently met the four elements required for class action certification ? numerosity,
commonality/typicality, representativeness, and predominance of common questions ?as outlined in Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See: Jackson v. Sheriff of Cook County, USDC ND IL, Case No. 06 C 0493 (Dec. 14, 2006); 2006 WL 3718041.

In a subsequent ruling, the District Court denied the Defendants' motion for summary judgment and granted in part and denied in part Defendants' motions to dismiss (dismissing the Director of Cermak, a division of the Cook Co. Bureau of Health Services, since the County itself was responsible for the policies of the Director's position). See: Jackson v. Sheriff of Cook County, USDC ND IL, Case No. 06 C 0493 (March 23, 2007); 2007 WL 917388.

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Jackson v. Sheriff of Cook County

Jackson v. Sheriff of Cook County