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Class-Action Status Granted in Erie County, New York, Strip Search Lawsuit

On June 6, 2010, a New York federal court granted class-action status to the plaintiffs in a 42 U.S.C. § 1983 civil rights lawsuit challenging the blanket strip search policy in place in Erie County, New York, jails between July 22, 2001 and May 1, 2004. After finding that the class met Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(3) requirements for numerosity, commonality, typicality and adequacy of representation for both the class attorney and class representatives, the court defined the class as “[a]ll persons who have been placed into custody of the Erie County Correctional Facility and/or Erie County Holding Center after being charged with misdemeanors, violations, violations of probation or parole, traffic infractions, civil commitments or other minor crimes and were strip searched upon their entry into the Erie County Correctional Facility and/or the Erie County Holding center pursuant to the policy, custom and practice of the Erie County Sheriff’s Department and the County of Erie. The class period commences on July 22, 2001, and extends until May 1, 2001…”

The lawsuit alleges that the Sheriff’s Department has a policy in place within the class period of conducting an invasive strip search of every detainee at the time that they changed from street clothes into jail uniforms without regard to the severity of the alleged offense and without reasonable suspicion of possession of contraband or weapons, in violation of the Fourth Amendment. See: Pritchard v. County of Erie, U.S.D.C.-W.D.NY, No. 1:04-cv-00534.

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Related legal case

Pritchard v. County of Erie